...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



On Dec. 21, 10 soldiers and three officers of the Sayeret Matkal unit signed a remarkable letter to Sharon, in which they declared, "We shall no longer lend a hand in the occupation of the territories."

Accusing Sharon of using their unit and other Israeli military forces to promote the development of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the signers of the letter wrote, "We shall no long serve as a shield in the crusade of the settlements."

The letter sent shock waves through the Israeli political establishment that were even more intense that those felt in September, when 27 Israeli Air Force pilots and navigators said that they would refuse to participate in missions involving the territories. And it ought to be read closely by policy-makers in the United States, where the Bush administration and too many members of Congress continue to believe, wrongly, that support for Israel requires support for, or at the least acceptance of, the occupation.

In fact, the opposite is true, as the members of the Sayeret Matkal unit made clear in their letter to Sharon.

"Out of concern for the future of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist, Democratic state, and out of fear for its moral character," they wrote, "we declare that: We shall no longer lend a hand in the occupation of the territories. We shall no longer take part in the deprivation of basic human rights from millions of Palestinians. We shall no long serve as a shield in the crusade of the settlements. We shall no longer corrupt our moral character in missions of oppression. We shall no longer deny our responsibility as soldiers of the Israeli DEFENSE force.

"We fear for the fate of the children of this country, who are constantly subjected to an evil that is unnecessary, an evil in which we have participated. We have long ago crossed the line of those who fight for their own protection; we stand facing the border of those who fight to conquer another people.

"We shall not cross this border!"


a small black box near the radiator

Surveillance technologies are easy to buy and even easier to abuse, privacy experts say. Paul A. Seidler was arrested last year in Kenosha, Wis., after he installed a tracking device in an ex-girlfriend's car. According to the police report, the ex-girlfriend, Connie Adams, complained that "she could not understand how the defendant always knew where she was in her vehicle at all times."
Police inspected her 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier and found a small black box near the radiator that beamed the car's position to Mr. Seidler's computer. In June, Mr. Seidler was sentenced to nine months in jail for stalking Ms. Adams.

Ω{Maybe you'd expect me to be all huffed up about this issue but I'm not. We're all the way past that. The idea that 100 million vehicles are on the road is it, the crux, whether they have surveillance technology in them or not. Number one it's who has access to the tracking, number two it's the road and the car, the architecture and impact of that, hybrid or hydrocarbon, the sheer mass of roadway and vehicle is failure on a gargantuan scale. So what if there's cameras at every intersection? There already were at a lot that you didn't even know about.
The horses have been living in the bunk house for the last decade and a half and you want to have some kind of debate about whether or not we should close the barn doors.
It doesn't matter about that anymore. We're past it. What matters now is the shape of the thing that rises from the ashes of this slowly building conflagration, if anything does.
It's not a moral issue so much as strategic, the guys in position already knew that, that's why they're there, but they got there out of cowardice and desperation. They're weak and they won't last. What takes their place is what's up for grabs now.
Freedom is great. But soldiers aren't free. Not at Valley Forge, not in Basra. Not on the highway. The illusion of being able to adjust a little here and there and having a comfortable world is poisonous. You got used to the world the way it was when you were young, and then it changed. You want that back. But for almost all of us alive today it was pretty much too late to pull out by the time we started tracking the downward change. It's not the black box it's the reader, the human intelligence that monitors the output of all the sensors and cameras and microphones.
The problem isn't the information, it's who's processing it.}

Devils On Mars


Palestine: Information with Provenance
Quotation #5:

[T]here is no single fixed method for murder and not even for genocide. The author Y. L. Peretz wrote about "the righteous cat" who does not spill blood, but only suffocates. The government of Israel, using the military and its instruments of destruction, is not only spilling blood, but it is also suffocating. ... Of course with our self-righteousness, with our self-adoration in our "Jewish ethics" we make sure to advertise how beautifully the doctors take care of Palestinian victims in the hospitals. We do not advertise how many of those are executed in cold blood in their own homes. So it's not yet genocide of the terrible and unique style of which we were past victims. And as one of the smart Generals told me, we do not have crematoria and gas chambers. Is anything less than that consistent with Jewish ethics? Did he ever hear how an entire people said that it did not know what was done in its name?

Palestine: Information with Provenance
UCC Palestine Solidarity Campaign

"Hitchens has every right to change his mind about the issues of the day. What some of us find unsettling is the ease with which he is today able to denounce as lacking in moral intelligence people who agree with positions he himself spouted as recently as the spring of 2002."
-Chris Bertram Crooked Timber Dec.29.03

"Hitchens mother is Jewish. That technically makes him Jewish but he is no friend of the Jewish people. "
-Israpundit (dedicated to pro-Israel advocacy through the presentation of news and views.)
This is a my second post to the comments section of Crooked Timber for the article cited above:
One of the reasons what I�m saying is so opaque is the subject itself is opaque to me. Something�s going on there, I don�t have the poli-sci background or the geo-political connections to get any deeper or wider views about what it is than the bits and pieces of Internet news.
But what I hope may show through to someone who reads what I wrote without the automatic reflexes of political correctness is I am not being �anti-semitic�.
Hitchens does seem to think of Sharon and Co. as thuggish, and he professes admiration for Yitzhak Rabin as do I, as I discovered when I actually sought out and read some of his recent stuff.
So that was a serious error, and I retract that statement, or whatever one does here besides just subside in cringeing shame.
I don�t fully understand why American media is so universally pro-Israeli. I believe still that the American presence in Iraq has more to do with Israel than it does oil.
But I now see Hitchens as a more complex individual, and regret very much having shot myself in the foot there.

Flames are hollow
{but ever since I was little I've really enjoyed a good sneeze. I mean really enjoyed it. Loved it, even.}

B.C. legislature raid

{Drugs. And it doesn't matter one bit what kind of drugs. Shut up. Shut up, you.}

Deepening Despair

Suicide bombers continued to target Israeli civilians, leading to retaliatory assaults on Palestinians - while, on the edge of the conflict, a few worked for peace.
in Parade
America's Sunday Supplement, December 28, 2003

next to a photograph, twice the size of the text, of a young girl with blood streaming down her face.

Mad Cow USA Free Online
Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's 1997 hardcover book Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? predicted that mad cow disease would come to the U.S. because of the failed and dangerous policies of the USDA, FDA and the meat industry.

pdf download free
Spin of The Day

DeHaven and Canadian officials have stressed that this still hasn't been confirmed because U.S. records outlining the animal's history do not match those in Canada. DNA tests will help resolve the matter.
Canadian documents show the cow had two calves in Canada, contrary to U.S. records that said it had never produced calves before it was shipped.
Also, Canadian documents said the diseased cow was 6 1/2 years old, but U.S. records said it was younger, around 4 to 4 1/2.
The cow's age is significant because it may have been born before the United States and Canada in 1997 banned certain feed that is considered the most likely source of infection.
-Emily Gersema/AP Dec. 29.03


@dangling partisan

For we should love the human kind,
As Jesus taught us to,
And those who don't should be struck blind
And beaten black and blue;
I'd like to roast them in a grill
And listen to them shriek,
Then break them on the wheel until
They turned the other cheek.

-- Roger Woddis(Hammer Into Anvil)
Culture Shock, edited by Michael Rosen, Penguin, 1991
quoted at Laputan Logic
link barista

"So, it is evident that it isn't simply the islamic fanatics that are involved in this practice - a fact which should give some, rather shallow, analysts some pause.
I found this Al-Ahram article on the subject, observing that:
The fact that martyrdom operations have been carried out by Marxists and followers of secular movements, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Fatah, as well as Hamas, strongly refute Israeli disinformation. In fact, suicide bombers represent a broad cross-section of Palestinian society.
See also a Washington Institute article on the return of Palestinian Nationalist terrorism.
One could then assume that it's not simply those crazy fundamentalists; that utter, hopeless desperation might have something to do with it.
Although successive Israeli governments can be celebrated as the most compelling recruiters for the most extreme of fundamentalists indeed."

Histologion Dec.26.09


Now, more than two years later, over the weekend, Homeland Security raised the terrorism alert to condition orange. By Saturday night, the streets of midtown looked like a parking lot at a police precinct. Vans were all along the curbs. Patrol cars were up on the sidewalks. All had lights, yellow and white, flashing in the night air.
Cops took over the sidewalks and lined them with metal barricades. On Seventh Avenue, 44th Street was blocked and traffic waved on. A friend was in a cab on Seventh Avenue trying to get to the Algonquin Hotel on 44th and Sixth, but as the cab couldn't turn on 44th, he said he would get out.
The driver stopped and said, "Get out now. Hurry up!" They were too slow. A cop was at the door when it opened and he shouted that he was giving the cabbie a summons. Nobody was to stop. This was a civil defense emergency.
This great big city now belonged to the nearest badge.

Roadkill Bill
link Social Design Notes

Some of Canada is south of some of Nevada.




Goodbye, Horatio Alger
According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez--confirmed by data from the Congressional Budget Office--between 1973 and 2000 the average real income of the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers actually fell by 7 percent. Meanwhile, the income of the top 1 percent rose by 148 percent, the income of the top 0.1 percent rose by 343 percent and the income of the top 0.01 percent rose 599 percent. (Those numbers exclude capital gains, so they're not an artifact of the stock-market bubble.)

mad cow records

The United States Department of Agriculture insisted the U.S. beef supply is safe Tuesday after announcing the first documented case of mad cow disease in the United States, but for six months the agency repeatedly refused to release its tests for mad cow to United Press International.
The USDA claims to have tested approximately 20,000 cows for the disease in 2002 and 2003, but has been unable to provide any documentation in support of this to UPI, which first requested the information in July.
In addition, former USDA veterinarians tell UPI they have long suspected the disease was in U.S herds and there are probably additional infected animals.

Steve Mitchell/UPI/ Dec.24.03

I was terrified someone would recognize me. I'd rather be caught at a peep show than shopping at Wal-Mart. The Times' recent series by Abigail Goldman and Nancy Cleeland validated all my worst suspicions, detailing the world's biggest retailer's full-throated race to the bottom � bottom dollar and bottom line, the corporate nation that runs at the front of the pack in pushing jobs offshore, pushing prices low and wages lower. It's the Wal-Mart limbo dance: Whether it's price or public responsibility, how low can you go?
Sam Walton's autobiography is subtitled "Made in America." Sam's been dead about a dozen years, but I'd still like to take him shopping with me to find out just what there is in Wal-Mart, besides Mr. Sam, that's made in America. The grail of free trade � Greenbacks Sans Frontieres � has made it not only old-fashioned to "Buy American," but damned near impossible.

I didn't talk to the shoppers. They were busy, and what's the point? Just as the bus strikes pitted the working class against the working poor, Wal-Mart sucks them all up: foreign workers desperate for jobs, American workers whose real wages have dropped and left them desperate for cheap goods, and Americans who would rather work at Wal-Mart's non-union jobs, with poor benefits and lower wages, than have no work at all. It's a circle of falling dominoes: Because decent-paying working- and middle-class American jobs are harder to come by, shoppers can't afford to go elsewhere, so they buy goods made overseas for pennies an hour, which encourages manufacturers to shut factories here to send work overseas, which means that more decent-paying jobs � you see where this goes.

rerun at Village News, Bakersfield, Kern County, California, USA, and The World

"I started screaming in pain," Laurel says. "He had held the canister so close to my face that my hair and face were dripping with pepper spray."

In the melee, she said she badly twisted her ankle. She was taken to a makeshift jail in Earlington Heights for processing and decontamination.

"Because I couldn't walk, they dragged me," she recalls. "They had a shower set up in the parking lot. Two officers held me up as I was drenched for a few seconds with water. I was then dragged into this tent. It was dark. There were four men in white biohazard suits. I'm still coughing and crying from the pepper spray. I can't really tell what is happening."

With her hands still bound behind her back, she said she felt her T-shirt coming apart. "That's when I realized they had scissors and they were cutting my clothes off of me," she says.

Sgt. Pete Andreu, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department, said he could neither confirm nor deny Laurel was pepper-sprayed by police. The ''chemical agent'' could have been released by one of the protesters, he said. He also doubted she ever asked for medical help. The decontamination, he added, was done by the Miami-Dade Fire Department.

...whatever intellectual patina and semiotic gloss is placed upon it can not hide the madness. We are trapped in a war of religious extremists - Muslim, Christian and Jewish - and a rhetoric of competing Armageddons. The way out is clearly through some form of secular sanity but its voice can not be heard amidst the crazed chanting of those who have usurped their own God for their own ends...
Sam Smith/Undernews Dec.24.03

The whole situation powerfully illustrates the truth: God�s commandments are being pushed aside in our society.
Ω{I don't have a problem with laws or divine commandments per se, but it should be obvious to anyone who's paying attention that these codes have become a kind of filter, selecting out those individuals and groups clever enough to obey each documented rule while running their scams and games between the lines. It has made "If it's not specifically against the law(or the ten commandments), then it's alright" the moral precept of this time.}


Some cities even sponsor a �dance-along Nutcracker� where children (and a handful of brave adults) can learn a few ballet steps and dance to some of the music.
Tchaikovsky�s homosexuality is well-documented in his letters and the memoirs of friends.

Remember: The goal of the religious right is that if it cannot entirely extirpate homosexuality from the human race, at least homosexuality should be rendered legally, socially and culturally utterly invisible. They want to be able to enjoy what gays have produced without having to face the fact that they have any reason to be grateful to someone gay. They want to have all the pleasures of their bigotry without any discomforting cost or cognitive dissonance.
For that very reason, it is incumbent upon us to press the fact that
these are gay composers upon those very people - to mention it at every possible opportunity. And the more homophobic they are, the more important it is to press it especially insistently - in a loving way, of course.
Paul Varnell/PGN
link Agenda Bender


People began to link their arms on the ground. The Gardai moved in and began to arrest people - they ultimately arrested ten people. Including a number of those that they identified as 'ring leaders.' Five of the people that were arrested were from Cork, including myself.
Essentially, I was arrested when I refused to leave. I was given a number of warnings I explained what we were engaged in was an act of conscience to protect the lives of people in Iraq. We were opposed to the facilitation of the U.S. war machine and that we believed that Civil Disobedience was acceptable and justified in that context.
We were arrested and brought to the Shannon Garda station, subsequently charged and brought to court and found guilty of trespass.
My personal penalty was a fine of 750 euros plus I was banned from County Claire for two years. I couldn't in my own conscience pay the fine. For me, it would be the equivalent of paying an entrance fee to protest. I will not pay 750 euros for the right to protest against the use of a civilian airport to kill people.
Shannon airport is a civilian airport but it has been effectively integrated into the US war machine. It is not hyperbole to say that it is a US Air Base at this stage. A hundred thousand US troops went through Shannon airport in 2003. In September 100s of flights went through and 10,000 soldiers.
At the time, we were protesting in Oct 2002 it had already been used extensively to support the invasion of Afghanistan. But it was also being used, according to documents that were released in Ed Horgan's case, to ferry through Patriot Missiles. In fact, Patriot Missiles had already passed through Shannon at that stage.
There is no question that Shannon is part of the US war machine. And I am absolutely incapable of paying for the right to protest against the misuse of an Irish civilian airport. It is being used to kill people and people should bare that in mind when they consider whether or not to support people like myself who are going to jail.
Finton Lane/indymedia Nov.23.03
link Wildfire
Finton Lane homepage

Christmas Eve demand for energy will rise by 40 percent as the world population increases and economies grow, said Randy Broiles, global planning manager for Exxon's oil and gas production unit.
"Between now and 2020 we estimate increases of some 3.5 billion tonnes per year of additional carbon emissions, so it's definitely increasing," Broiles said at an energy conference sponsored by accounting and consulting firm Deloitte.
He said about 7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, go into the earth's atmosphere each year from power plants, cars and other sources.
Experts say the United States, which has the world's largest economy and 4 percent of its population, is responsible for about 25 percent of so-called "greenhouse" gases now produced, but Broiles said most future growth in output will come from developing countries.
"Eighty percent of that number, 80 percent of 3.5 billion tonnes, is going to be driven by those developing countries, those economies that are growing at the 4 to 5 percent range, so that's where it's coming from," he said.
A huge increase in the number of cars will cause part of the pollution growth.
Broiles said there are now 15 cars for every 1,000 people in the world, but ExxonMobil expects that number to rise to 50 cars per 1,000 by 2020.
He said ExxonMobil foresees a 40 percent increase in energy demand even though humans are boosting their energy efficiency by about 1 percent a year. Despite advances in technology most energy will still come from fossil fuels, and in particular oil and gas, of which there remain very large reserves, he said.
"The oil resource base is huge - it's huge - and we expect it to satisfy world demand growth well beyond 2020," he said.

Jeff Franks/Planet Ark/Reuters Nov.21.03


"Nick told me that in Chernobyl there were a lot of unknown phenomena that modern science could hardly explain without careful study. Day after day these young and talented scientists entered the collapsed reactor�s premises trying to curb the unleashed demons. They entered the nuke hell like martyrs, stripped of their everyday clothes and clad in immaculately white cotton robes. This clothing had to be burned after each shift, since it was covered with radioactive particles. Nick " and the other guys as well " saw a lot of strange things and experienced odd sensations there, in the Zone. He had never expanded on the subject, saying with his usual quiet smile �Hey, student, you�d better not ask, who needs your bad dreams afterward'.� But once he mentioned some weird growth they had discovered just under the reactor�s hall..."

Vladimir Dubisskiy/Antigonish Review #122


Section 44 searches

The officer searching you should explain that it is being done under terrorism laws. (Officers do not have to give you a reason why they suspected you personally.) If they cannot tell you what statutory power they are using and you don�t consent, they cannot search you

You do not have to give your name or address

You do not have to explain why you are in the area

Allow the officer to search you. Obstructing an officer in the exercise of these powers is an offence punishable with a fine, a six-month prison sentence or both. You are allowed to �go limp� as passive resistance during the search if you do not wish to comply

In public, the police can only give you a pat down, remove outer clothes (eg, jacket, hat), search your bags, and have you empty your pockets

There is no permission to collect DNA data during the search

You do not have to comply with any attempt to photograph or record you

Women cannot be touched by male police during these searches

Red Pepper


December 8, 2003


To amend section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, to provide for the punishment of certain profane broadcasts, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 1464 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--

(1) by inserting `(a)' before `Whoever'; and

(2) by adding at the end the following:

`(b) As used in this section, the term `profane', used with respect to language, includes the words `shit', `piss', `fuck', `cunt', `asshole', and the phrases `cock sucker', `mother fucker', and `ass hole', compound use (including hyphenated compounds) of such words and phrases with each other or with other words or phrases, and other grammatical forms of such words and phrases (including verb, adjective, gerund, participle, and infinitive forms).'

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

Concord Hymn

American farmers in the English colonies were expected to produce for the colonizers. They endured low prices, inadequate credit, high taxes, large debts, and the dumping of excess English foodstuffs on their local market.
Agrarian insurrections began in 1676 and culminated in the "Great Rebellion" in New York in 1766. British troops routed the insurgent farmers. Landlords evicted them and destroyed their property.
By April 1775 many colonial farmers were furious that while they lived on American soil, planted it and built on it, the wealth produced was going to enrich England � particularly the aristocracy and mercantile speculators.
Two centuries later, a handful of agriculture conglomerates work to drive small farmers off their land by paying them less for their produce than it costs to grow, moving them into a cycle of loans, mortgages, foreclosures, repossessions and the sale of land to corporate-controlled agribusiness.
In 1962, a committee of the most powerful corporate executives in the United States issued "An Adaptive Program for Agriculture," a plan to eliminate farmers and farms. Called the Committee for Economic Development, this group represented oil and gas, insurance, investment and retail concerns as well as the food industry. Industry giants such as Campbell Soup, General Foods, Pillsbury and Swift lobbied Congress with the message that the biggest problem in agriculture was too many farmers. The U.S. government encouraged farmers to move off their farms and retrain, allowing their land to be consolidated in the ownership of fewer and fewer corporations.
Jodie Aliesan/PCC Resources Newsletter November 2003
link Common Dreams

The third figure is more difficult to interpret. It stands 2.5 cm high and has undoubted human features such as shoulders, short arms and a delicately carved ear - but the face is like a lion.

Ω{The damage caused by drunk driving. That sentence seems to mean something, but what? It's the accidents. But the brainwashing capability of modern social propaganda has so permanently linked drunk driving with car crashes, in a lot of people's minds they're the same thing.
Driving under the influence doesn't cause any damage by itself, it increases the likelihood of damage due to 'accidents' or car crashes.
The driving is never questioned. Never. Because there's something sacred about cars, something personal and holy. Maybe it's the glamorous armor of the metal and paint and chrome. The little womb of the passenger compartment. People feel safe in there. And powerful.
Humans have been drinking alcohol since before historical records were kept, and driving for about the last 75 years, as a whole. Three generations behind the wheel, three thousand under the influence.
The gut feeling of most, especially the young, is the carnage of the automobile is the result of drunk drivers driving. But the statistics show more than half of road fatalities as not caused by drunk drivers.
It's a diversion, to keep people from facing the toll in random lives merely using the car as transportation has taken and continues to take. Cars exact a tax in maimed and broken bodies that everyone is quite willingly blind to, as they've been trained to be.
The drama and exciting catharsis of the Washington Sniper trials puts that in an interesting contrast. In Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware alone, over 1,750 people died in 'crashes' in 2002. Around 35 people killed weekly, and something like 3,000 injured. Statistically more than 20 of those fatalities likely had no alcohol involvement.
The difference is, that's every week, year in, year out. The Sniper and his companion paralyzed a much wider area for three grim weeks by killing 10 people. The most frightening thing, beside the randomness of their attacks, was they seemed to be intending to continue until they were caught.
10 people died, randomly.
100 people died, randomly. 60 of them with no alcohol involvement.
The only difference was intention on the part of the Sniper. The car crashes are 'accidents'.
Since those October attacks over 2,000 people have died on the roads of that one area, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Washington DC. Around 160,000 people have been injured in traffic in the same area during that time.

There's a confusion here that's only being resolved by the steadily advancing phalanx of Puritan moralists who control so much current public discourse and moral legislation.
Don't drink. Drive all you want.}

riff engendered by an article in Toronto Star Dec.20.03

There are other instructive documents offered this weekend by the [National Security A]rchives. Don't miss the confidential cable from the US ambassador to Baghdad from 1988, a year in which the Senate rose up to pass economic sanctions against Iraq for using chemical weapons against the Kurds. The ambassador reports in an aside that the US construction company Bechtel has no intention of obeying the will of Congress -- and instead would use "non-US suppliers of technology and continue to do business in Iraq." This is the same Bechtel once again chowing down on millions of Iraq-related American dollars; the same Bechtel that counts among its directors George Shultz; the same George Shultz who as Secretary of State wrote Rumsfeld's suck-up instructions. Small world.
Matt Bivens/Daily Outrage/The Nation Dec.19.03


"We are not moved by the gloomy smile of a worthless king, but by the ardent glow of generous patriotism. We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in. In such a case we are sure that we are right; and we leave to you the despairing reflection of being the tool of a miserable tyrant."

The American Crisis No. IV
The American Crisis
Thomas Paine
at Liberty Online

Ω{Belle du Jour has been awarded the British blogging whatever, with a nihil obstat from grand old digit B. Sterling.

But there was another site, two years back.
Honey. She disappeared the day after Valentine's Day, 2002.}

Ω{I don't know much about Moonism, the Moonies, that whole Washington Times thing. The little I do know is enough.
The problem with large organized groups of fanatical believers of course is that most of them, the successful cults and religions, quickly develop and implement security protocols, scripture and dogma and squads, whose function is to, like phagocytes, identify and consume threats to the greater body. The immune systems of self-designated spiritual groups are highly virulent themselves.
So it's not a light-hearted thing to speak to the issue of religious conflict, whatever its form, wherever its field of battle. Moonies, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, a long list of zealots and moderates, dialogue professionals and uneducated demagogues. There is a still greater majority whose beliefs if any are subordinate to their sense of human commonality, or their self-interest, but who have no unifying banner or book.
Believers insist they be called by what they're not, a-theist or a-gnostic or in-fidel, because these categories have already been shaped and firmly attached to the machine of faith.
There was a time when I was young when it seemed to me any human progress had to come out of the soil of religious belief. For practical reasons, because there was so much of it, and because the rest was immobilized under the thick scum of hedonism and violent self-interest.
Then there was a time later on, but while I was still in my 20's when the question of God and belief became paramount and pretty much drove me mad. That I was constantly being confronted by believers and zealots didn't help much.
Still later the accumulating maps and diagrams of logical process began to show, in clearer and clearer form, the logical absurdity of all but the most vague religious teaching, but at the same time the implacable biological logic behind the existence of those groups and systems of belief.
So much of the Bible and the other so-called Great Books that seems illogical and nonsensical becomes sensible and practical when seen as part of a grand scheme for the survival of the institutions involved.
But it was equally obvious that those systems and groups had long since developed perfectly fitted categories for dissent and what they termed heresy and blasphemy.
There is no middle ground, or if there is it's us, and we are vastly outnumbered. And nameless, because there isn't really a 'we' in that sense. It's as though the conflict is between large organized and proselytizing groups of clenched, immovable believers, and unorganized, un-unified, non-believers with nothing in common but their humanity.}

Your nagging attention/A short blasphemous comparison
against my will/between the earthly mission
and in defiance of my heart/ of Jesus of Nazareth
as I warned you it would/and the last political act of a Palestinian
has destroyed my love for you/suicide bomber.

A potentially large number of innocent people's lives are destroyed.
In the name of a higher cause the life of the individual is sacrificed knowingly, willingly, with no measure of risk, only the certainty of death.
The bleak finality of the act is tempered, if not transformed utterly, by the conviction of the individual and his or her fellow believers of the existence of an after-life where the act will be rewarded for its redemptive outcome, the liberation of many more lives than are damaged by the act, and the more justly distributed benefits of its larger effects.
It is a desperate act, calmly accepted as necessary, requiring the fullest commitment.
Undertaken out of love, its results have been at least as much a polarization of both love and hate on the part of survivors, and an intensifying of debate on the part of more distant observers.
Unbelievers are often greatly inconvenienced, and consequently highly resentful.

Shivering Timbers
Ninety-five per cent of the world's cargo travels by sea. Without the merchant marine, the free market would collapse and take Wall Street's dream of a global economy with it. Yet no one, apart from ship owners, their crews and insurers, appears to notice that pirates are assaulting ships at a rate unprecedented since the glorious days when pirates were 'privateers' protected by their national governments. The 18th and 19th-century sponsors of piracy included England, Holland, France, Spain and the United States. In comparison, the famed Barbary corsairs of North Africa were an irritant. Raiding rivals' merchant vessels went out of fashion after the Napoleonic Wars, and piracy was outlawed in the 1856 Declaration of Paris (never signed by the US). Since the end of the Cold War, it has been making a comeback. Various estimates are given of its cost to international trade. The figure quoted most often is the Asia Foundation's $16 billion per annum lost in cargo, ships and rising insurance premiums.

Charles Glass/London Review of Books Dec.18.03

ΩTwo Items from The Local Paper
Teenagers are a lucrative retail market
...But make no mistake, many teens boast more discretionary income than their parents.
More importantly, he who makes friends with adolescents now can enjoy their business for life.

Meanwhile, teen status centers around money and possessions. For boys, macho is in�a guy that's not buff can be sidelined. Conversely, girls are less feminist than their mothers were at their age.
...for now, peer acceptance is adolescents' primary purchasing factor. The group dictates behavior, fashion, music, recreation, and food.
Business columnist, local.

Green River killer to be sentenced today
Officially, it's a formality: A King County Superior Court judge will sentence the Green River serial killer, Gary Ridgway, to life in prison without parole, a punishment that prosecutors and defense attorneys have already agreed to.
But to the families of the 48 women Ridgway confessed to killing over the past two decades, today will mean so much more. It's their only chance to memorialize their loved ones in court or to speak to the murderer directly.
Tribune Syndicate

Conversely less feminist. To memorialize their loved ones in court.
There's a sense of the grief being so profound it's untouchably sacred, and then these people parade their wounded souls up and down like little cannons. You sacrifice your right to the natural dignity of sorrow when you do that.
Closure, they want closure.
They want what they've been told to want.

18.12.03 finessed by
though contemplation leads to the almost certain fact of Parker's consulting and/or being directed by lawyer phalanx, rather than having the wit and panache his own self. Still.
The Yes Men, valor aforethought
link ipecac
link path thru UFO Breakfast Recipients

In Dallas, Oswald denied the charges. "I'm just a patsy," he shouted to reporters at the Dallas City Jail.

Gerald Posner, Norman Mailer and Don DeLillo back lawsuit to open secret files on CIA mystery man tied to Lee Harvey Oswald.
Jefferson Morley/Salon Dec.17.03
link Maud Newton

Rhubarb cost three times as much as opium in the Europe of 400 years ago. And opium wasn't cheap. People got the notion that rhubarb was a health food beyond compare, and its price suddenly galloped up the trail of the tulip bulbs.
LMBoyd Dec.18.03


Heavily-edited letter, 3


Ω{One time in callower days I wrote a thing riffing on somebody's metaphor, with marine applications, and worked it in that late night way you do when you're still inside the decade after adolescence. Also even from this distance and without documentation a pretty astonishing peice of controlled alienation that was a sensory record of riding the NY subway as a surf cowboy just in from Galaxy Coltrane. And posted it. To a famous poet. And waited a good month and nothing came. Bitterly disheartened but still poetically inclined I picked up a local vessel of contemporary and current belles lettres at the store. Wherein a poem and another poem was printed from that self-same poet. Which if you squinted your eyes and held that pose for long enough and let your mind run free across the swooping plain of space and time between the letters and lines you might could see the one as a form of encouraging disreply. Or not. Because the one did say "here" not "there". It did say that. And the other seemed an echo did echo the clang and fire of the Coltrane one. What I took away from that conjecturally saturated hypothetical possibility of recognition was the sense of there was a muse of that kind of activity and she was more interested in the task at hand than how her devotees felt about themselves and their little contributions to it.}


mnftiu #28

Ω{For people who believe in the sanctity of life the word 'fuck', which means the act which at its most common is the necessary activity for the natural creation of a human life, is the most obscene word in the language.
For those same people, who believe in eternity and a final judgement, the word 'hell' and the word 'damn' meaning condemn to hell, are mild obscenities. And that's that.}

During the small hours of this morning, Saddam Hussein was captured in his hiding hole (we have so far heard it referred to a spider hole, a squirrel hole, and a rat hole, by the way: the media have yet to standardize on a specific vermin metaphor). Ambassador Bremer decided on resolutely informal style for the opening of his speech announcing the event: his first paragraph was, in full, "We got 'im!" He gave it that American English flapping and voicing of [t] between vowels that makes "got 'im" sound like what could be written phonetically as ['gadm]. But within minutes the BBC were reporting what he had said as "We got him", in their educated southern British dialect and rather formal style, with the "t" of got sounding like [t], and the [h] of him clearly audible. There is a real question about whether this (largely involuntary) style and dialect switch reported the content of Bremmer's utterance correctly. Beside the phonetic point, there is a syntactic and semantic one: "We got 'im" in American English can be present tense -- the equivalent in British of "We have got him." But in British English, "We got him" can only be preterite tense, the equivalent of "We did get him."
Geoff Pullum/Language Log Dec.14.03

Ω{Probably at the apocalypse moment, or the lead up, you know, when the edges of the dream world start to curl back from the heat, like now, only later, when it's pretty obviously coming down, but while there's still radio and TV, while the 'net's still working, all that infrastructure shaking but intact, I'd be checking voices like Pullum's; the steady insistence on reason as more than an option, wit born of a glimpsed and still possible future composed of detailed accuracy and kept faith. The apposite delight of complex semiotic tinkering, even at that late date.}

Israel: Ghosts of a Dream

Jews are afraid these days. I'm Jewish, so I'm afraid too. I'm afraid for my mother and father in their Russian Jewish youth 90 years ago, their high spirits and dangerous bravery. I'm afraid for my grandmother because she will have to find a wagon to bring her murdered son home. I am afraid for him. He falls down. He's been shot. It's pogrom time. My grandmother finds him among other dead boys. With all her strength, she lifts him, tips him into the wagon. He's 17. His name is Rusya. A photograph about 2 by 3 feet stands on the windowsill of my front room. When I walk into the room I see his intelligent Russian Jewish face and I am afraid for him. It will not be able to save him. I am afraid for my grandmother's sadness. It will never end. It is almost 100 years old.

I am afraid for my grandchildren. Two of them are the great-great-great-grandchildren of imported African immigrants (slaves). My grandchildren are called African American. I am afraid for those two little children. I am afraid of America.

Grace Paley/LATimes/Common Dreams Dec.14.03

a dance at Belsen and other improvisations

Belsen was in strange, beautiful country of great melancholy: an expanse of heath, with silver birches, large regular ponds, and giant rocks covered with lichen; it fostered a whole German sensibility. The camp itself had initially been conceived of in distant peacetime as a place where, in the victorious war to come, young heroes, returning from the front for a few days, might be pampered, their courage rewarded, and their worst nightmares soothed in the arms of young girls; from this original conception there remained a number of small thatched cottages standing on sandy islands in the ponds...

Ten days later, I arrived with my trucks, while, back in Bevensen, a group of citizens chosen by the burgomaster were putting the final touches to the place of entertainment. The Belsen survivors who were pronounced fit were put into clean clothes, and lined up, though for exactly what they had no idea. However, as soon as they saw my convoy, they knew. All talk of the war being over was nonsense, and here were the trucks to take them on the first lap of their journey to death. They panicked, they would not get into the trucks.

They bared the left arm up to the elbow, and exposed a row of numbers tattooed in capillary violet, which were to have been their one-way tickets for the transports. The soldiers, who had no idea what they were looking at, stared meaninglessly, the women redoubled their explanations until one soldier or perhaps more, thinking that this was ill-disguised flirtation, pulled the woman he was talking to onto the dance floor. I do not know what happened next, but within moments a fight had broken out. One woman was hitting a soldier on the head with her handbag, and I saw one of the soldiers, who was not to be baulked of his dance, pulled down onto the floor, as he held the tattooed wrist of the woman he still saw as his partner. The musicians played louder and faster, but it fell to me to call the whole thing off, to get the soldiers into the trucks, and to drive back as fast as we could, but whether we drove through the dark, or whether it was still light as I believe to be the case, I cannot exactly remember....

Richard Wollheim/London Review of Books Dec.04.03


The Earth, Religion and Stewardship

North Coast Cafe Dec.12.03

Recent theorizing in cognitive neuroscience suggests that humans have an evolved theory of mind module. An fMRI study by Gallagher et al. even suggests where it is in the brain:

Brain activation during the theory of mind condition of a story
task and a cartoon task showed considerable overlap, specifically in the
medial prefrontal cortex (paracingulate cortex).

So here's my hypothesis. When you're sitting in a restaurant or a railroad car, hearing one side of a cell phone conversation, you can't help yourself from trying to fill in the blanks. And after a few seconds of this, your paracingulate medial prefrontal cortex is throbbing like a stubbed toe. Or at least, it's interfering with your ability to think about other things.
Mark Liberman/Language Log November 08, 2003
link Sociable Dec.12.03

2 to the 20,996,011th power minus 1

Waterloo Teeth
After 23 years of war in Europe, Napoleon faced the combined might of England, Holland and Prussia at Waterloo. By 10 pm, the battle was over. The French were defeated and 50,000 men lay dead or wounded on the battlefield. The casualties were high but for one group of people that was reason to celebrate. They were the dentists who were about to benefit from the great tooth bonanza. In the early part of the 19th century, patients with plenty of money but very few teeth were prepared to pay enormous sums for a good set of dentures. The best were made with real human teeth at the front. Most of the time demand for second-hand incisors far outstripped supply, but wars helped make up the shortfall. The windfall from Waterloo provided enough to ship supplies all round Europe and even across the Atlantic.
�reprint from New Scientist Jun.16.01 at The Age of George III
concept link E.S Turner/London Review of Books
link path TMFTML

Mozilla Add-ons: "A more complete list of add-ons can be found at the Extension Room on"

two letters, heavily edited





side-by-side food-for-thought in the bookmarked-these-tabs every-day-essential check-these-out
Ken Babbs(Dec. 12) on his tour of duty in Viet Nam
Ted Rall on comparisons with the present conflict


I am a voyager and a seaman; that is a liar and a stupid fellow, in the eyes of that class of indolent haughty writers, who in their closets reason in infinitum on the world and its inhabitants, and with an air of superiority, confine nature within the limits of their own invention

In 1774, the first Polynesian to visit London travelled to England with the crew of Captain Cook's second Pacific voyage and became an overnight sensation. Seen as a living example of the 'Noble Savage', Omai as he was known, was discussed by scientists and philosophers, celebrated in all the best circles and written about in everything from poetry to pornography. He proved a lightning rod for European anxieties regarding imperialism, civilisation and the true nature of mankind.

Cook & Omai: The Cult of the South Seas Nov. .03
National Library of Australia

Know your enemy
Unknown knowns are quite common. Imagine discovering an old friend, with whom you'd lost touch, at a masquerade. Imagine Reagan's Bind with respect to Iran-Contra, he didn't know what was known in the White House. The discoveries of unknown knowns (certain opportunities that were missed, certain leads that were not followed, certain names that were not cross-checked, etc.) by the commission investigating the 9-11 attacks were quite obviously the most painful to the public, and the most embarrassing for the government and intelligence agencies, and their armies of analysts. Yet no one was fired, it is assumed, for having failed to prevent the attacks. Instead, the government was reorganized and expanded. From the latter, one may conclude that the Bush administration believes that the attacks were rendered unpreventable by a structural feature of the government, inefficiency. Yet everyone already knew that government is often inefficient, and that inefficiency has national security implications. Few people, however, questioned whether expanding government was a prudent way of improving its efficiency. The move admits causality, but affirms non-responsibility. The existence of movies and books containing events like those portrayed in, for instance, Judgment Day further supports the claim that the attacks were unknown knowns. We knew such attacks were possible, we just fantasized, for instance, that only aliens would be capable of accomplishing them. Yet it was precisely "aliens" who carried out the attacks, and "aliens" who were arrested in the wake of the attacks.
Ipecac Dec.13.03


Ω{An email conversation I'm currently engaged in has caused me to examine the strength, and more importantly the breadth, of my social criticism. I'm a little soft lately I think.
So in correction, here and there throughout the vast winking galaxy of blogs, comments and posts:

at Electrolite

at Parablemania

Crooked Timber


1830 (October 20) -- While stonemason Donald Macleod was off
working in Wick, his wife and children were surprised in their home:
...a party of eight men...entered my dwelling (at) about 3 o'clock, just as
the family were rising from dinner. The party allowed no time for parley,
but having put out the family with violence, proceeded to fling out the furniture,
bedding and other effects in quick time, and after extinguishing the fire, proceeded
to nail up the doors and windows in the face of the helpless woman....

Messengers had (previously) been dispatched--warning all the surrounding
inhabitants, at the peril of similar treatment, against affording shelter, or assistance,
to wife, child, or animal belonging to Donald Macleod.

...After spending most part of the night in fruitless attempts to
obtain the shelter of a roof or hovel, my wife at last returned to
collect some of her scattered furniture, and (built) with her
own hands a temporary shelter against the walls of her late
comfortable residence...(but) the wind dispersed (the) materials
as fast as she could collect them. Buckling up her the best
manner she could, she left them in charge of the eldest (who was only
seven years old), giving them such victuals as she could collect, and prepared
to take the road for Caithness (in search of her husband). She had not proceeded
many miles when she met with a good Samaritan and acquaintance...Donald
Macdonald, who, disregarding the danger incurred, opened his door to her,
refreshed and consoled her, and still under cover of night, accompanied
her to the dwelling of (a friend), William Innes...of Sandside.
The Highland Clearances
A site dedicated to the remembrance of the massive eviction of residents in Scotland's highlands and islands in the 18th and 19th centuries

Samantha Power
I graduated from college in 1992, and that was the year that there were these dreadful images coming out of Europe of emaciated Muslim men behind bars. In Europe, fifty years after the Holocaust. Those images were haunting to me. Out of college, I went to work in Washington as an intern for a man named Mort Abromowitz, who was president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was completely consumed with what was going on in Bosnia. Working for him, I learned much more about what was happening there. And the more I saw, and the more of those images I encountered, the more helpless and hapless I felt. We just weren't doing anything about it. I had no skills, but I could string sentences together�I had been a sports reporter in college. So I moved over to Bosnia in 1993 and became a freelance journalist, a year into the war.
interview in The Atlantic Unbound Dec.03.03


Ω{Has anybody ever figured out WHY the naked female breast is obscene?

I mean in a non-academic context? Out here where regular folks could see and understand it?
Why is it the closer you get to the source of life the more obscene the images become?
It's like pictures of eggs and sperm should be capital offenses; but reality stops at the labia, evidently. The most obscene and offensive image available is the door to the womb. Then that poky thing that shoots the wigglies in the penis. Then the food source for the eventual baby. Male breasts having recently crossed the line from obscene to risque and on into casual.
In another category entirely is elimination, with its own hierarchy. It's now ok to say 'piss' in the mass media, as in 'pissed off'. Probably still not ok to say 'have to piss' though. And 'shit'? Forget 'shit'.

I don't like that. It's really offensive.
Female breasts are not obscene. Not obscene. The mentality that says they are is what's obscene. There's where the problem is.}

JenniCam shuts down for the sin of exposure
link LaPorte

Potus op
Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on.

Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks.
Blackfive Dec.04.03

intelligent articulate eminently readable


Joe photolog

I chose to flow with the tides of life, making every effort to focus on the light house on the shore rather than the waves of trouble, guiding me towards my envisioned journey�s destination. I focus on what might be rather than what is not, choosing to see life as a wonderful ride towards the light house of my dreams.
I am proud to serve my country, because I do believe that all men are created equal with certain God given rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. I firmly believe that I can make a difference one person at a time. I can, so I do.
I am in my early 50�s, but so young at heart, full of excitement and amazement.
I have served in the Army National Guard for over 30 years, been to two wars and have been part of many great and magical things in places all over the world.
I am an interrogator/debriefer here at a palace in Baghdad, Iraq.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon and very proud of my ancestors, the pioneers who paid the ultimate price to exercise their right to the freedom of worship.
Chief Wiggles

Major Pain at frontlinevoices
Major Pain's Magic at The Baghdad Cafe

Mudville Gazette links to military blogs

an alley's worth of cellar windows

My horror took the form of a flood of simultaneous perceptions: an indelible vision of the raw cruelty of my kind; a paralyzing sense of my own utterly naked helplessness, magnified by the certainty that there was no one to whom I could turn for help; waves of acute, inarticulate shame; and a profound admiration for the Giant. I had then what I realized, much later as an adult, was the first independent thought of my life: "The Giant is very brave."

It may surprise you when I say that I've since considered this my first experience of soul -- that is, it was the first time I remember feeling viscerally, mentally, emotionally, and inescapably connected to everything and everyone around me, while feeling, at the same time, a sense of privacy so deep and unassailable that "loneliness" does not begin to describe it.

Michael Ventura/Austin Chronicle Dec.09.03


This has links to soldier blogs in Iraq, and Iraqi blogs as well

A five-year-old Kwun Tong boy has contracted the rare H9N2 form of bird flu - only the third infection in the world - raising the spectre that Hong Kong could be hosting a potential pandemic flu strain.
South China Morning Post 12.10.03 (sub. $ req.)

National Bureau of Statistics, China

Penalizing humanity�The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra,
Washington DC, December 9 2003

Mr President, as you sit in the front row of the auditorium with Laura, you will no doubt notice that Conductor of the Iraq Symphony Orchestra, Mohammed Amin Ezzet, has very disfigured hands. His neck and chest, too, are disfigured appallingly. For nearly thirteen years, all spare parts for electricity were also vetoed, which led to a burns epidemic as the poor resorted to candles, even a wick in a bottle of kerosene - which routinely exploded. The better off bought cheaply made lamps in the market, which also exploded on an ongoing basis. People resorted to inventive ways of cooking, which also routinely led to tragedy.
The thoroughly democratic embargo left few unscathed. Mohammed Amin Ezzet is the gentlest of men, to whom his music and family is all. Three years ago he had had just celebrated winning a pan-Arab award for composition, orchestration and conducting of an original piece of music. Returning home, he went to his study to compose, his wife, Jenan prepared the next day's rice, placing it to cook slowly overnight, on top of the gas heater - the electricity was off. Her nightdress touched the flame. Mohammed, hearing her screams ran and threw himself over her.

Last year, Mr President, a Chicago based campaigning group called Voices in the Wilderness took with them to Baghdad, spare parts, strings and music scores to this orchestra. Your government is threatening them with either ten years in jail or a fine exceeding one million dollars. Your troops allowed the orchestra's precious theatre to be looted and ruined after your 'liberation' and members of the orchestra, friends of the founder of Voices, Kathy Kelly - who was in Baghdad, not safely in Washington, during the war - went to her hotel and broke down in tears.

Felicity Arbuthnot/Common Dreams Dec.09.03

"After this, I met a group of children who told me that a ten-year-old friend of mine, Muhammad Bilalo, had been killed and three children had been wounded by tank fire, one of whom sustained brain damage. So I went to where the children were gathered, and the tanks were firing on them erratically. I implored them not to shoot live ammunition at unarmed children. A soldier raised his upper body and his gun out of the hatch of the second vehicle and began shooting. I was shot in the thigh. When I fell they continued shooting in my direction. No ambulances were allowed into the camp, so I was carried on a makeshift stretcher to where a Red Crescent ambulance could reach me. While I was in the Emergency Room of Jenin Hospital, Iain Hook of UNRWA was brought in. He died a few minutes later."

Caoimhe Butterly at Ira Chernus
The Invisible Death of Iain Hook
Israel Palestine and The Middle east

�it�s technically not assassination�it�s normal combat operations.�

In October, the Los Angeles Times reported that Boykin, while giving Sunday-morning talks in uniform to church groups, had repeatedly equated the Muslim world with Satan. Last June, according to the paper, he told a congregation in Oregon that �Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army.� Boykin praised President Bush as a �man who prays in the Oval Office,� and declared that Bush was �not elected� President but �appointed by God.� The Muslim world hates America, he said, �because we are a nation of believers.�

There were calls in the press and from Congress for Boykin�s dismissal, but Rumsfeld made it clear that he wanted to keep his man in the job. Initially, he responded to the Times report by praising the General�s �outstanding record� and telling journalists that he had neither seen the text of Boykin�s statements nor watched the videotape that had been made of one of his presentations. �There are a lot of things that are said by people in the military, or in civilian life, or in the Congress, or in the executive branch that are their views,� he said. �We�re a free people. And that�s the wonderful thing about our country.� He added, with regard to the tape, �I just simply can�t comment on what he said, because I haven�t seen it.� Four days later, Rumsfeld said that he had viewed the tape. �It had a lot of very difficult-to-understand words with subtitles which I was not able to verify,� he said at a news conference, according to the official transcript. �So I remain inexpert��the transcript notes that he �chuckles� at that moment��on precisely what he said.� Boykin�s comments are now under official review.

One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America�s closest ally in the Middle East. According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers�again, in secret�when full-field operations begin. (Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. �No one wants to talk about this,� an Israeli official told me. �It�s incendiary. Both governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their interests to keep a low profile on U.S.-Israeli co�peration� on Iraq.)
Seymour Hersh/New Yorker Dec.08.03


"...our utmost, with utmost sincerity..."
US President George W. Bush said Tuesday that the United States opposes the efforts made by the leader of Taiwan to seek independence.
"Let me tell you what I just told the premier on this issue. The United States government's policy is one China," President Bush told reporters in a joint appearance with visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in the Oval Office of the White House.
"We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo, and the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose."
Xinhua (CH) Dec.09.03

Ω{Wilderness and wildlife are the women and children of this time. The response to that statement, the vicious retaliatory comeback is what keeps anything from happening, the momentum of this juggernaut of inept and heedless sacrifice to no purpose. I want to address that more completely soon. The total lack of dialog beyond the selfishness and myopia of both sides in the pointless argument between heartless industrialism/capitalism/social darwinism and thoughtless religionism/anthropocentrism/anti-darwinism.
Both camps being fed by the same sutlery.
More later.}


Government Meat

The Passing of the Great Race

This was not some marginal cause. American eugenicists persuaded the Harriman, Carnegie, and Rockefeller families to fund a vast eugenic campus at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island. Researchers were dispatched to asylums, prisons, hospitals, and poor towns to collect family histories of the supposedly unfit -- which included the mentally ill, the disabled, epileptics, alcoholics, criminals, the immoral, and pretty much anyone else they wanted to throw in. These reports were then collected at the Eugenics Record Office.

Throughout the '20s, eugenicists pushed draconian immigration restrictions through Congress and persuaded most states to pass laws permitting the sterilization of the unfit. The Supreme Court laid the capstone on these laws with the notorious 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell affirming the sterilization of an unwed teenage mother. Drawing on statements of pro-eugenics medical personnel, the court decided not only that Carrie Buck was feebleminded (she wasn't), but that her daughter was clearly doomed to abnormality (she wasn't). The supposed incapacity of Carrie Buck, her mother, and her infant daughter inspired Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous conclusion: "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.... Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
David Plotz review of War Against the Weak by Edwin Black
Mother Jones September/October 2003

Free breakfasts for all primary school children
Every primary school pupil in Wales will have the chance to start their school day with a flying start after having a free healthy breakfast, the Minister for Education and Lifelong, Jane Davidson, told the Assembly...

"It may take some considerable time to educate pupils about the benefits of making a healthy choice at school meal times. My proposals for breakfasts will seek to reinforce this educative process. With the co-operation of LEAs and school caterers and through increased pupil awareness and a whole school approach to healthy eating I believe we will see a marked improvement in the number of pupils accessing free school meals, whether lunch or breakfast. It will enable children to derive greater benefit from school and give children a healthier start in life."
Local Food Works Nov.11.03

Local Food Works (UK) exists to foster sustainable local food systems through the development of local food networks

Soil Association (UK)

links red pepper

Christmas at the Jolly household
...teacher, Geneta Codner, was reading a story about the Tooth Fairy on Monday and the class started discussing what was real and what was not, said district spokesman Joe Donzelli. The subject of Santa then came up, and the teacher started questioning parts of his story -- How could a fit down a chimney? How could reindeer fly around the world in one night? -- and told the children that wasn't possible.
"It's all been blown out of proportion," Codner said Tuesday. "I'm sorry [parents] think I meant it that way. We were just having a discussion. I don't know where all this hurt came from." She said none of the children acted upset or sad during class. But Jolly and others beg to differ.
"How do you destroy a 6-year-old like that?" demanded Pam Sturt, whose son Bradley is in D.J.'s class and said the teacher also made it clear the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are not real. "Kids don't believe in enough things already."
Ft. LAuderdale Sun-Sentinel Dec.03.03

photo link: Sandra Jolly cradles her son Daniel Jolly, 6, who came home upset Monday after his teacher at A.C. Perry Elementary in Miramar told the class there was no Santa Claus.

the "sacredness" of sex
Two New Zealand church leaders have attacked a Christmas safe-sex advertising campaign depicting a trio of jeans-wearing men with packets of condoms in their back pockets as Three Wise Men.
One News NZ Dec.09.03

Pharmacogenetics has the promise of removing much
A senior executive with Britain's biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them.
Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.
It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public.

Drugs for Alzheimer's disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients mainly because the recipients carry genes that interfere in some way with the medicine, he said.
"The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn't say that most drugs don't work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people."
Steve Connor/Independent UK Dec.08.03

it[']s a glowing duck for crying out loud

Balaena mysticetus, Physeter macrocephalus

We need to study a species for at least one and a half times the duration of its life expectancy in order to begin to understand its life cycle. For example, six stone harpoon heads have recently been found in living bowhead whales. As stone harpoons have not been used for between 135 to 150 years, we will therefore need to observe and study whales for over 200 years.

Benign research
Ocean Alliance
link Wired

Species loss is a planet-wide phenomenon, but in our own noisy backyard, the Bush administration has launched a war upon nature, a "shock and awe" campaign of striking ferocity. There has been much debate about and discussion of the Bush doctrine of "preemptive" (actually "preventive") war because the administration proudly issued a global strategic document proclaiming it part of a new Bush Doctrine in the world. But the same crowd is engaged in what could certainly be considered a preventive war against the environment (which does, as global warming may someday show, have the ability to strike back with weapons of mass destruction) and this has gone largely unreported in our country. On TV, according to Robert Kennedy, Jr. (see below), only 4% of TV network news minutes were devoted to environmental stories during this period.
Tom Dispatch Dec.07.03

How do I know if I have the flu?
Both a cold and the flu are viral infections that cause similar symptoms such as coughing and sore throat. A cold is only a minor viral infection of the nose and throat, while the flu, on the other hand, is usually more severe, with symptoms that include the sudden onset of high fever and the addition of aches and pains. It's important to learn the difference between the two.

The flu generally strikes 1 to 3 days after exposure to the virus. The onset of the flu can be sudden: people describe feeling "like they've been hit by a truck." Common flu symptoms include sudden onset of fever and chills, cough, muscle pain, headache, fatigue and weakness. Some people also get a stuffy nose and sore throat.



ipecac cogently defends Butler who was attacked by Fields.
Butler was also attacked by Dutton, though in snarky rather than militant fashion, though it could be said Fields felt empowered to her militancy by Dutton; though it should be mentioned that Fields is not attacking Butler as Butler, for her writing or her thought, but as a symbolic representative of an 'academic culture' whose 'bargain basement moralism' and 'inability to write with coherence and argue with clarity' has resulted in its becoming an 'educational quagmire'.
Dutton, like most of the rest of us, one assumes, a child of the Great Simplifying, holds Butler up to ridicule for her incomprehensibility, but as ipecac demonstrates nicely it's pretty much just xenophobia in sheep's clothing. Butler speaks from a place the language borders on the foreign, in a vertical rather than horizontal sense. She betrays nothing in the paragraph so widely held up for scorn of having spoken that way for any other reason than the necessities of clarity and context.
There's a special animosity reserved for those who demonstrate an intelligence that doesn't bend toward its inferiors. This animosity has been developed and encouraged by the beneficiaries of an ignorant public.
It's a violation of the social contract now to say anything a high school sophomore couldn't understand. To say something beyond the comprehension of most college graduates is virtually obscene.
That the widely-quoted sentence of Butler's was an abstract, a compression of an intellectually complex article into one thick sentence, like a synopsis, meant to sum up and lead toward its fuller explication, goes unmentioned.
That Butler is a woman, a lesbian, a feminist, and a Jew, among many other attributes, hasn't made her immune to attack, certainly. That she can be elequently clear and accessible when she chooses, as in this piece in the London Review of Books, makes Dutton's ridicule seem oddly inapt.
Dutton further arouses suspicion by quoting Warren Hedges' remark that Butler is "[p]robably one of the ten smartest people on the planet..." as though Hedges must be even more trivial as a writer and thinker than Butler for his admiration of her.
It's a Fox News hit piece for people who read more than one book a week.

Butler's sentence, the target of Dutton's snark, was diagrammed by Ratliff, in a neutral sort of echo-snark of Dutton's piece.

dorkbot in Amsterdam Waag Society
realtime self-induced GPS mapping of human trails

socialfiction bomblondon
social fiction
link path thru Giornale Nuovo

Ω{Because there's no history anymore, not even in families, anybody born after 1980 has no picture of the time when smoking was as normal as breathing. People could smoke anywhere and everywhere. The teachers' lounge at any school was a box of smoke and ashes, people smoked in stores, on buses, virtually anyplace you had to wait in line. It was normal is my point. It was accepted because it was normal, because everybody did it and accepted it. Cars are exactly like that, a damaging absurdity, an aberration people were tricked into adopting, and then once enough were doing it, it became normal.
There's no record of who and how smoking got turned from an attribute of adulthood to a failing of the poor and strange. Because that same energy might be turned against something the controlling interests still have use for. The pretense is 'we' did it. The big amorphic blob that watches itself on TV. 'We' just stopped smoking, just like 'we' just started smoking all those decades back. On a whim. Because we felt like it.
I can remember the shock and defensive antagonism of people whose 'right' to smoke was challenged back in the darkness of the 60's. Then it was like this unexplained awakening, suddenly everybody knew smoking was bad for you, and all those lawsuits made the commissions and agencies afraid, and that was that.
The tobacco industry, as big as it is, wasn't an integral part of the American economy the way oil and automobiles are. So even though the news is real bad vis a vis the lungs of the world and the smoking engines, 'we're' not quitting. 'We'll' be talking through a vocoder with a portable oxygen tank strapped to our back and chain-smoking all day long, just like now.}


A Day Without Bill
Agenda Bender Dec.01.03

A groundswell in Israel for peace

the right to freedom, from exposure, to certain types of particulate aerosols
A leading medical journal today called for an outright ban on smoking and cigarettes, a demand described as "health fascism" by smokers' groups.
An editorial in the Lancet argued that 80% of people in the UK were non-smokers, saying they had "the right to freedom from exposure to proven carcinogens".
An estimated 1,000 people die in Britain each year from inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke, the editorial claimed. It warned that passive smoking not only killed, but also made it harder for smokers to quit.

"Not only does the health lobby want to prohibit smoking in public places, it wants to ban tobacco and make smoking a criminal offence. There speaks the true voice of the rabid anti-smoking zealot.
Guardian UK Dec.05.03

Ω{The death toll from highway accidents is a necessary part of modern living, on the one hand, and my right to enjoy some heroin in the evenings is of course different on the other. But nowhere, absolutely nowhere in any of that arguing is the sacred cow, the demonically sacred cow and its Satanic presence in our lives, that got all those people addicted to tobacco in the first place, mentioned.[see Murdoch, below] It's as though suddenly a hundred or so years ago everybody just started smoking, on a whim. Couldn't have been mass advertising now could it? The tobacco companies take the fall, but did they operate alone? And the same insidious manipulation has resulted in the unquestioned acceptance of the automobile and its manifold deadliness in all our lives that once caused smoking to be considered a normal adult behavior. Smoking was easier to take down than cars. It made people feel brave to challenge it, then righteous once the critical mass was achieved. The automobile,and its pimps and pushers, has shown those same forces up for the cowards they really are.}

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