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  Friday   April 18   2003

The Warmongers Were Right!
A gutted Iraq, a low slaughter rate, an Exxon can for every peasant. See? Peacenik losers!
by Mark Morford

Oh my yes. What whimpering, unadulterated embarrassment the anti-war protesters must now feel, what heaping mountains of crow we must all imbibe. This is the general sentiment, the snickering attitude hissing from the Right like hot spittle spraying all over your nuanced perspective.

Hail the great victor BushCo! Ha! The U.S. kicked ass! Who's your daddy, beeyatch? Thump thump thump on the manly chest of great liberator America! Liberals suck! Go, war! It's Miller Time.

Yes, justifiably do the war zealots gloat. See how our multibillion-dollar high-tech superpower ordnance annihilated the little scrawny pip-squeak nation! See how we barely even broke a multibillion-dollar sweat!

Whoever dared doubt our brawn should be immediately hanged and castrated and laughed at and called many violently homophobic names and run over with a big bitchin' Ford Expedition! Snicker!

We must admit it: The hawks and warmongers were right about Iraq all along. The peaceniks had it all wrong, what with our lame pacifist whining about thousands of needless deaths and BushCo's mad rush for oil and vicious regional control and its bloody long-term plan to strong-arm the Middle East for the administration's corporate wet dreams. Nope, that didn't happen at all.

 09:41 AM - link

non-verbal language

{openbrakets provides us with two links to sites that explore the importance of non-verbal language in foreign countries.

Area Studies  /  Middle East
Customs and Gestures

Arabs, like most people, use gestures and body movements to communicate. It has been said that "To tie an Arab’s hands while he is speaking is tantamount to tying his tongue." However, Arab gestures differ a great deal from American (or Western) ones.

Although there are numerous other gestures associated specifically with the Arab culture, the following have been identified as some of the most common and widespread in the Arabian Peninsula. 

  • The gesture of placing the right hand or its forefinger on the tip of the nose, on the right lower eyelid, on top of the head, on the mustache or beard has the meaning of "it’s in front of me, I see it or it’s on my head to accomplish." Another meaning is "it’s my obligation."
  • Right hand out, palm down, with fingers brought toward oneself repeatedly in a clawing motion, is the sign for calling someone to come.
  • Placing the palm of the right hand on the chest immediately after shaking hands with another man shows respect or thanks. A very slight bow of the head may also be added.
  • Foreign Fingers

    If you find yourself on foreign soil, it's always best to know how to properly enrage your host with a native insult. It makes it that much more satisfying to see his shocked face as he realizes he is not hustling some run-of-the-mill gringo. But remember to be careful. Flashing a few of these signals in an unenlightened country may get you in big trouble, land you in the slammer, or cause a horde of raging villagers armed with pitchforks to chase you down a muddy lane, cursing you to their pagan god.

     09:36 AM - link


    Here are some comments, about the tragic destruction of Iraq's and mankind's heritage, from an archaeologist.

    The Administration discovers its artsy side...

    A growing number of weblogs, especially Body and Soul, Making Light, and even Instapundit, have expressed their outrage, dismay and in some cases, exculpation over the pillaging of the Iraqi National Museum. Although I discussed it in passing a few days back, I suspect friends who know me as an archaeologist, not a parent of autistic children or a policy wonk, may be wondering why I haven't had more to say on the issue.

    I have been thinking about it. A lot. In fact, I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that most of my free "thinking time", i.e., that not taking up mentally planning general life activities, has been consumed by the subject.

    I started to write down my initial thoughts, and then moused on over to Jeanne D'Arc to locate an appropriate link. While there, I noted her mention of Bryan Pfaffenberger's piece on who might benefit from the looting. As I read it, I felt a bit of wind knocked out of my sails, as he'd written much of what I had composed in my head. In particular, he introduced his readers to a newly formed group of art dealers, lawyers and museum curators, with the innocuous sounding name, American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP). This organization had been raising concerns within the archaeological community since its formation in the fall of 2001. Many believe it is not shear coincidence that its inception was marked just as the Administration's anti-Iraqi war-drums began to sound.

     09:23 AM - link

    regime change

    32 years ago I read a little text book, for a political science class, titled City Politics by Banfield and Wilson. It was a look at how city politics actually works. What I found was that government was a lot more complex than I thought. There were elected governments and there were shadow governments. And the shadow governments were often the governments that made the decisions about what the elected government did. Banfield and Wilson weren't spreading conspiracy theories. They looked hard at how decisions are really made. The shadow governments that Banfield and Wilson wrote about were often made up of our upstanding business leaders. They made many decisions that the public expected the elected, or hired, government officials to make. And Banfield and Wilson didn't even get into the shadow government of organized crime. City Politics made me aware of the amazingly complex ways we govern ourselves. It is not always clear as to who is running things. And that goes for dictators too.

    Letter From Belgrade

    Ari Fleischer's timing couldn't have been worse. Attempting to justify Washington's plans to invade Iraq without United Nations approval, the White House spokesman held up Serbia as a bright, shining example of successful US-sponsored regime change, arguing that NATO's 1999 bombing campaign weakened Slobodan Milosevic and hastened his fall from power. "I suppose he might still be there had it not been for NATO and the United States," Fleischer told reporters in Washington on March 10. "That was regime change in Serbia, wasn't it?"

    Two days later in downtown Belgrade, the old regime bit back. Serbia's prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, the darling of the West and the man who had engineered Milosevic's ouster in October 2000, hobbled out of an armored limousine near his government's headquarters on the afternoon of March 12. On crutches and suffering from a broken tendon from a soccer injury, he was moving slowly. Barely out of his car, he was gunned down by a sniper with a high-powered rifle and died almost instantly.

    The slaying, which officials here blamed on shady underworld and paramilitary groups tied to the Milosevic regime, dashed Serbs' hopes for their fragile and fledgling democracy and sparked fears of renewed chaos in this deeply troubled Balkan nation. And with Serbia languishing under a state of emergency and police hunting down gangsters with nicknames like the Godfather, the Idiot, the Rat and Bugsy, it also provided a cautionary lesson about the limits of regime change as Iraqis toppled statues of Saddam Hussein: Decapitating a brutal dictatorship does not a stable democracy make. At the very least, what is needed, but rarely happens, is a wholesale flushing out of the official and unofficial apparatus that keep dictators in power.

    Regimes like Milosevic's and Hussein's are propped up not only by official state institutions but also by sprawling and overlapping matrixes of underworld criminal groups, shadowy commercial clans and quasi-legal paramilitary units. International sanctions and embargoes like those imposed on Serbia and Iraq tend to strengthen these elements, which are adept at the smuggling and subterfuge necessary to keep the economy puttering along. When such regimes fall, these hidden pillars of support--flush with cash, resources, muscle and firepower--maintain their power and influence. With civil society decimated and the economy devastated, they are usually the most powerful constituency around.

    And this leaves the regime changers with a dilemma and a paradox. Directly taking on the hidden power structures runs the risk of renewed bloodshed and chaos. But cutting deals and co-opting these forces, as Washington did in Afghanistan and has suggested it will try to do in Iraq, allows hidden elements of the old regime to keep their power and pursue their own agendas. "The lesson of the last three years is that if a dictator disappears it is not the end of the job," Maurizio Massari, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's ambassador to Serbia-Montenegro, told me shortly after the assassination. "Regime change should not be confused with dictator change," Massari added. "Removing a dictator is a necessary but not sufficient condition for changing a regime."

    It's delusional to think that a dictator is the source of all power and that his removal changes the nature of the government. Or that you can remove the visible government and plug in a new democratic government with people that have not governed, while ignoring all the shadow governments that continue to exert their own power and control.

    A Skewed History of Asia

    On the Sunday before US troops seized the city of Baghdad, Paul Wolfowitz went on television to sell his vision for a future Middle East. A free Iraq, he said, would serve as a democratic beacon for the region just as Japan was the model for Asia. "The example of Japan, even in countries that had bitter memories of the Japanese, inspired many countries in East Asia to realize that they could master a free-market economy, that they could master democracy," he told Fox News Sunday.

    Wolfowitz, who was President Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is turning history on its head. Japan was not the inspiration for the democratic upsurge that swept through East Asia in the 1980s. Instead, it was the junior partner to the United States during the cold war, when Washington created an alliance of anticommunist dictators who supported American foreign policy while repressing their own people. Those policies didn't inspire democracy in Asia; if anything, they helped to stifle it.

    The symbiotic relationship between Washington and Tokyo was forged in 1948, when the United States "reversed course" in its occupation of Japan to focus on the containment of communism. Almost overnight, US policy shifted from punishing Japanese bureaucrats and industrialists responsible for World War II to enlisting them in a global war against the Soviet Union and China. The shift was symbolized by Nobusuke Kishi, who was prime minister from 1957 to 1960. Kishi was minister of commerce and industry in the wartime Tojo Cabinet and labeled a "Class A" war criminal for helping run Japan's colonial empire in Manchuria.

    "The part of Japanese imperialism which was made powerless after the defeat in the war wanted, of course, to revive itself," Muto Ichiyo, a Japanese writer who worked closely with the US antiwar movement in the 1960s, once explained to me. "But they knew perfectly well that the situation had changed. They knew also that fighting against America again would be both impossible and purposeless. So they adopted a very clear-cut strategy: Japan will concentrate on the buildup of the economic base structure of imperialism, while America will practically rule Asia through its military forces." (...)

    A more accurate analogy between postwar Asia and US policy today would be the United States installing friendly leaders in Baghdad willing to do US bidding in the Middle East, and subservient, pro-US governments providing the economic underpinning to the new US imperialism. Then, after decades of US-imposed "democracy," the Iraqi people would rise up to forge their own future. That's how long it took Asians to reject the idea that democracy doesn't grow out of the barrels of American guns.

    The US relied on members of the defeated government, in Japan as well as in Germany, to make up the core of the new peace time governments. I don't think this approach will play very well with the majority of Iraqis, particularly the Shiites. And that is just the visible government. What is the US doing about the shadow governments?

    Wholesale screwing around with governments is like trying to fix a large machine and, when you take off the control panel, thousands of tiny springs go boinging all over the room. Now you have to find as many of those springs as you can and replace those that you can't find, or that are broken, and get them all back into the right place and keep the machine working at the same time. Good fucking luck.

    It seems that we have two scenarios here. The first is that our fearful leaders don't believe any of the installing democracy bullshit and plan to govern with the gun. That's the cynical scenario. The other scenario is that they believe their press releases and that democracy will flourish and Iraq will be a little US. That's the delusional scenario. Which are we dealing with? I'm afraid that, from my little knot hole, it's the delusional scenario.

    By the way, I was an Urban Planning major 32 years ago. City Politics was one of the things that made me realize that Urban Planning was an oxymoron and I then wandered off to do other things with my life.

     09:03 AM - link


    Brooklyn Storefront ...


      thanks to Coudal Partners

     07:30 AM - link


    Hawks recycle arguments for Iraq war against Syria

    The talk over war with Syria increasingly resembles a spring rerun of the debate over war with Iraq, with virtually the same cast of characters and plot.

    Neoconservative Richard Perle, a leading hawk in the Iraq debate, yesterday called for Congress to pass a "Syrian Liberation Act" modeled on the 1998 law that made regime change in Baghdad official U.S. policy.

      thanks to American Samizdat

    Chemical weapons program is no secret
    Large and advanced: Sarin, mustard, VX and the means to deliver them

    Rattled by U.S. accusations it is harbouring refugees from Saddam Hussein's government, sponsoring terrorism and building weapons of mass destruction, Syria insists it has nothing to hide.

    Syria is thought to have the largest and best-developed chemical-weapons program in the Middle East, with hundreds of tonnes of stocks. In an unclassified report to the U.S. Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency said Syria has stockpiles of the nerve agent sarin, as well as mustard gas and VX nerve gas.

      thanks to Liberal Arts Mafia

    Three cheers for complexity. The Voice of America confirms what I posted Tuesday: Not only has Syria been torturing Al Qaida members on the U.S.'s behalf, it's also been helping the "war on terror" in other ways:

     01:20 AM - link


    Here is a little reality about Hezbollah...

    Following up the post below about Syria, I've tried to gather a few thoughts and links about Hezbollah. I was motivated by an astonishing quote from Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in a syndicated op-ed piece in today's N&O. Armitage claims that Hezbollah may be the terrorist "A-team," while Al Qaida "may be actually the B-team." The jaw-dropping reversal flies in the face of so many facts it's difficult to know where to begin, except to marvel at the N&O's willingness to carry water for extreme hawks who want us to believe Syria must be the next stop on Bush's shock-and-awe tour. (...)

    Once again: Hezbollah arose after Israel 1) invaded Lebanon in what Israelis themselves call "a war of choice," 2) aided a group of thugs who "raped, tortured, mutilated and massacred" hundreds, if not thousands, of unarmed Palestinian civilians at Shabra and Shatilla, and 3) began treating the local Shiites like crap. And now people are suggesting that the United States should take on the job of dealing with the mess Israel created for itself? Absurd.

     01:09 AM - link


    Jesse Alexander

    A golden age of motorsports emerged in Europe in the wake of World War II. The young photographer Jesse Alexander captured on film the adventure, glamor and innocence of this influential period in racing.

    Stirling Moss, 1955


      thanks to sharpeworld

     01:00 AM - link

      Thursday   April 17   2003


    Robert Fisk: For the people on the streets, this is not liberation but a new colonial oppression
    America's war of 'liberation' may be over. But Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is just about to begin

    It's going wrong, faster than anyone could have imagined. The army of "liberation" has already turned into the army of occupation. The Shias are threatening to fight the Americans, to create their own war of "liberation".

    At night on every one of the Shia Muslim barricades in Sadr City, there are 14 men with automatic rifles. Even the US Marines in Baghdad are talking of the insults being flung at them. "Go away! Get out of my face!" an American soldier screamed at an Iraqi trying to push towards the wire surrounding an infantry unit in the capital yesterday. I watched the man's face suffuse with rage. "God is Great! God is Great!" the Iraqi retorted.

    "Fuck you!" (...)

    So the people of Baghdad are asking who is behind the destruction of their cultural heritage: the looting of the archaeological treasures from the national museum; the burning of the entire Ottoman, Royal and State archives; the Koranic library; and the vast infrastructure of the nation we claim we are going to create for them.

    Why, they ask, do they still have no electricity and no water? In whose interest is it for Iraq to be deconstructed, divided, burnt, de-historied, destroyed? Why are they issued with orders for a curfew by their so-called liberators?

    And it's not just the people of Baghdad, but the Shias of the city of Najaf and of Nasiriyah – where 20,000 protested at America's first attempt to put together a puppet government on Wednesday – who are asking these questions. Now there is looting in Mosul where thousands reportedly set fire to the pro-American governor's car after he promised US help in restoring electricity.

    It's easy for a reporter to predict doom, especially after a brutal war that lacked all international legitimacy. But catastrophe usually waits for optimists in the Middle East, especially for false optimists who invade oil-rich nations with ideological excuses and high-flown moral claims and accusations, such as weapons of mass destruction, which are still unproved. So I'll make an awful prediction. That America's war of "liberation" is over. Iraq's war of liberation from the Americans is about to begin. In other words, the real and frightening story starts now.

    Fear reigns, as one detested militia replaces another

    Many people in Iraq complain that George Bush has so far utterly failed to live up to his promises of real "liberation", but the people of Baqubah have better reason than most.

    The hated Baathist bureaucrats and generals no sooner disappeared from this large, soul-destroyingly bleak town, 35 miles from the Iranian border, than another armed force sought control on the streets, inspiring unease and even outright fear. And it was not the American Marines.

    Standing guard over a former Baath party administration headquarters at lunchtime yesterday, Kalashnikovs at the ready, was a band of bearded fighters from the Badr Brigade, a pro-Iranian heavily armed militia whose overall numbers are in excess of 10,000.

    The Sacking of Baghdad
    Burning the History of Iraq
    by Robert Fisk

    So yesterday was the burning of books. First came the looters, then the arsonists. It was the final chapter in the sacking of Baghdad. The National Library and Archives ? a priceless treasure of Ottoman historical documents, including the old royal archives of Iraq, were turned to ashes in 3,000 degrees of heat. Then the library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment was set ablaze.

    I saw the looters. One of them cursed me when I tried to reclaim a book of Islamic law from a boy of no more than 10. Amid the ashes of Iraqi history, I found a file blowing in the wind outside: pages of handwritten letters between the court of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, who started the Arab revolt against the Turks for Lawrence of Arabia, and the Ottoman rulers of Baghdad.

    And the Americans did nothing. All over the filthy yard they blew, letters of recommendation to the courts of Arabia, demands for ammunition for troops, reports on the theft of camels and attacks on pilgrims, all in delicate hand-written Arabic script. I was holding in my hands the last Baghdad vestiges of Iraq's written history. But for Iraq, this is Year Zero; with the destruction of the antiquities in the Museum of Archaeology on Saturday and the burning of the National Archives and then the Koranic library, the cultural identity of Iraq is being erased. Why? Who set these fires? For what insane purpose is this heritage being destroyed?

    How We Lost the Victory
    by Ted Rall

    Privatization in Disguise
    by Naomi Klein

    Onward Christian soldiers
    Conservative fundamentalists with close ties to President Bush are planning a new missionary push in Iraq -- and they might already be converting U.S. troops to their cause.

     01:14 PM - link


    This is in Salon. Go ahead and get a free day pass — it's worth it.

    WMD, MIA?
    Hasty, incomplete news reports have suggested that coalition troops found chemical weapons, or even nukes, in Iraq. They haven't -- at least not yet. And the rest of world is watching skeptically.

    Responding last June to Iraqi denials that it possessed weapons of mass destruction, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. troops in Bahrain that Saddam Hussein was "a world-class liar" whose claims were "false, not true, inaccurate and typical." Then came President Bush's Sept. 12, 2002, demand at the United Nations that iraq "immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction" and Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5, 2003, follow-up presentation of alleged evidence of these weapons of mass destruction -- or "WMD," as they've come to be known -- to the U.N. as well.

    For now, everyone is staying on script: We fought the war to get rid of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and we still intend to -- as soon as we find them. "There's strong evidence and no question about the fact there are weapons of mass destruction," Powell asserted Sunday on BBC1's Breakfast with Frost. "We will find weapons of mass destruction." Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, told Fox News that same day that he has "absolute confidence that there are weapons of mass destruction inside this country." White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer noted last week that "we know Saddam Hussein is there, but we haven't found him yet, either."

    Weapons of mass destruction are "what this war was about -- and it is about," Fleischer said.

    But none have been found yet.

    Read this one carefully.

      thanks to Tapped

     12:54 PM - link


    Robert Fisk: Would President Assad invite a cruise missile to his palace?

    So now Syria is in America's gunsights. First it's Iraq, Israel's most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction – none of which has been found. Now it's Syria, Israel's second most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction, or so President George Bush Junior tells us. No word of that possessor of real weapons of mass destruction, Israel – the number of its nuclear warheads in the Negev are now accurately listed – whose Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has long been complaining that Damascus is the "centre of world terror".

    Powell to visit Mideast, will focus on peace process

    Syria calls on UN to turn up heat on Israel's nuclear program
    Syria, seeking to shift world attention from itself to Israel, asked the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to help transform the Middle East into a "zone free of weapons of mass destruction."

    Accused by the United States of developing chemical weapons, Syria insists it is not doing so but charges that Washington is ignoring Israel, which is widely assumed to have nuclear weapons. Israel declines to discuss its nuclear activities.

    A draft resolution - circulated by Syria in the 15-nation Security Council during a closed-door session to discuss the situation in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip - would welcome all initiatives aimed at the establishment of a "a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons" in the Middle East.

    If it's not OK for Syria to have WMDs, why is it OK for Israel to have them? And Israel has a lot of them. Enquiring minds want to know.

     12:38 PM - link

    more gorey

    ~ Welcome to the 'Uncommon Gorey Gallery' ~

    These are mostly illustrations he did for other people's books. Some are very recent, others were done long before he was known as a writer himself. None of these pictures appear in the Amphigorey books, and most don't appear anywhere except in the original books.


      thanks to Speckled paint

     12:17 PM - link

    They Shoot Activists, Don't They?
    By Brooke Shelby Biggs

    In the past month, three international peace activists have been wounded or killed by the Israeli Army. They were all affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement, a loose network of international activists who are trained in and dedicated to non-violent tactics to defend Palestinian civilians from Israeli aggression.

    They were wounded while acting as "human shields" – essentially putting their bodies between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) or armed settlers and unarmed Palestinians, or physically blocking bulldozers bent on destroying water wells, olive groves, and the homes of family members of suicide bombers.

    Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old from Olympia, Wash., was crushed to death on Mar. 16 while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian physician's house where she had been staying. Brian Avery, a 24-year-old from New Mexico, was shot in the face by an Israeli tank in Jenin on Apr. 5 as he and another ISM volunteer were investigating the sound of gunfire near a refugee camp. He survived, but the left side of his face has essentially been blown away. Then on Apr. 10, 21-year-old Thomas "Tab" Hurndall of London, was shot in the head in Rafah as he escorted a Palestinian child across a road under a hail of Israeli gunfire. Hurndall was declared brain-dead by hospital officials later that day. As of this writing, he is still on life-support.

    Activists, international observers, and the families of the victims are asking whether the Israeli Army is intentionally targeting members of a group that has foiled and embarrassed the IDF in the past.

     12:11 PM - link


    art and culture

    ArtandCulture.com is an unique online resource -- a cross-disciplinary front door to the world of the contemporary arts. This website features thousands of artist biographies, essays about art movements and themes, and overviews of the full range of artistic disciplines (from painting to dance to music to literature to film... the list goes on). Using the special abilities of the Web, ArtandCulture.com links all this information together in an illuminating fashion, suggesting connections between artists, across disciplines, that you may never have considered before. The main vehicle for this connection-making is the "cloud" at the top of every page. This special Flash feature puts the artist's name at the center of a myriad of creative associations -- some well established, others less well known and surprising. Each page of ArtandCulture.com is an invitation to explore. It combines learning and play, research and serendipity, the familiar with the unexpected.

    On the biography page for the visual artist Kiki Smith, for example, the "cloud" might suggest links to the video artist Nam June Paik, or the photographer Diane Arbus. Every page on this site presents useful and provocative connections between artists whose work suggests a relationship, either because of direct personal influences or shared thematic concerns. From the Diane Arbus page, the cloud might lead you to the beat photographs of Robert Frank, or to the horror-tinged music of Danny Elfman. Along with the "cloud," each page has a comprehensive list of Related Artists, as well as lists of relevant artistic Movements and thematic Keywords. Links throughout the site to definitive online resources help to provide depth and context.

      thanks to dublog

    This is a site that you can wander around in and never be seen again. I checked out one of my favorite artist couples and found a website about them I didn't know about.

    This is their page at art and culture:

    Charles and Ray Eames

    And the new website (for me):

    Eames Office

    The Eames Office is a family business dedicated to communicating, preserving and extending the work of Charles and Ray Eames. We feel that all three of those dimensions are important to keeping the office useful and vital. We believe that all of Charles and Ray's work was the result of a way of looking at the world--a design philosophy and process that is worth sharing in many different dimensions. We also believe that creating wholly new works is as consistent with that philosophy as restoring and distributing classic ones.


     12:06 PM - link

    tim robbins

    'A Chill Wind is Blowing in This Nation...'
    Transcript of the speech given by actor Tim Robbins to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003.

    Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers, and by their fair and balanced electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. (Laughter.) Apologies to Gore Vidal. (Applause.)

    Two weeks ago, the United Way canceled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership. And both of us last week were told that both we and the First Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    A famous middle-aged rock-and-roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war, only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war."

    And here in Washington, Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleischer whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

    A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. If you oppose this administration, there can and will be ramifications.

    There is also a video of Tim Robbin's most excellent speech online. The video also inludes another most excellent speech by Tom Andrews, National Director of Win Without War, and a question and answer period.

    Watch the video
    (requires RealPlayer)

    The video is courtesy of the National Press Club

      thanks to Zoe

     11:42 AM - link

    glass art

    Scientific Glass Blowing


      thanks to dublog

     11:18 AM - link


    This is the story that caused an email program to be named after the writer Eudora Welty.

    Why I Live at the P.O.
    by Eudora Welty

    I WAS GETTING ALONG FINE with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr. Whitaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China Grove, taking "Pose Yourself" photos, and Stella-Rondo broke us up. Told him I was one-sided. Bigger on one side than the other, which is a deliberate, calculated falsehood: I'm the same. Stella-Rondo is exactly twelve months to the day younger than I am and for that reason she's spoiled.

    She's always had anything in the world she wanted and then she'd throw it away. Papa-Daddy gave her this gorgeous Add-a-Pearl necklace when she was eight years old and she threw it away playing baseball when she was nine, with only two pearls.

    So as soon as she got married and moved away from home the first thing she did was separate! From Mr. Whitaker! This photographer with the popeyes she said she trusted. Came home from one of those towns up in Illinois and to our complete surprise brought this child of two.

      thanks to wood s lot

     11:09 AM - link

    i've been working on the railroad

    A Study of Railway Transportation—For Primary and Intermediate Grades—Association of American Railroads—1942

    Loading a Box Car

    If a box car could talk, what a fascinating story it could tell! It is a professional nomad, forever wandering, forever visiting strange places, never knowing what sort of adventure the immediate future has in store.

      thanks to Coudal Partners

     10:15 AM - link

      Wednesday   April 16   2003

    what kind of country would appoint one of the world's greatest musicians as a minister of culture?

    And what kind of country would look to people like William Bennett and Lynne Cheney for directions on culture?

    This is another must read.

    "The Most Emotionally Healthy Culture on the Planet"
    A North American Falls In Love with Brazil
    By John Perry Barlow

    Minister Gil and Sweet Brazil

    For the last year or so, I've felt a growing intuition that Brazil was beckoning me. Of course, in some senses, Brazil is always calling to those who love music, dance, the sensual pleasures, and open-heartedness. But this seemed more directed than that. With increasing frequency, I found myself meeting Brazilians who became immediately significant players in my life. It cropped up in my dreams.

    By last fall, I had decided that it was about time for me to return to Brazil, and I started looking for a pretext, since I rarely go anywhere these days without what appears to be a reason and. generally, an airline ticket that someone else has paid for. By New Year's, my inner voices were muttering so much soft Portuguese that I had about concluded that that I would be forced to go there simply because I wanted to, and on my own dime at that.

    When, in early January, I got a phone call from my old friend Julian Dibbell who wanted to know if I would be willing to meet with the newly appointed Brazilian Minister of Culture. I was headed to Cannes the following week to speak at a music industry conference called Midem. (This is truly the Trade Show of the Living Dead, but never mind that...)

    Apparently, the Minister, a musician and political hero named Gilberto Gil, had read some of my writings on the economics of expression, had seen that I was going to be at Midem, where he was also appearing, and wanted to know if we could get together and talk.

    I am now embarrassed to confess that, when Julian called me, I knew next to nothing about this remarkable man or his remarkable work or his remarkable life. Still, he was from Brazil, to which I'm favorably disposed, and he was an official to the new Lula government, to which I'm also favorably disposed. I told Julian I would be happy to talk with him.

    A few days later I found myself sitting in the bar of the Hotel Majestic in Cannes, surrounded by a Fear-and-Loathing welter of music biz bottom-feeders, looking for the arrival of an official entourage. When Gil did appear, he was immediately obvious, but not because he came in force. In fact, the most notable thing about him at first was that he seemed like the least self-important person in the room. That, and a kind of light...

      thanks to Cursor

    Gilberto Gil

     12:28 PM - link

    lawrence of arabia

    A must read. This is in Salon. Go ahead and get a free day pass — it's worth it.

    "Messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife"
    Lawrence of Arabia's brilliant memoir reminds us that the hard part is not defeating Iraq, but occupying it.

    The war with Iraq's military is over. Saddam's Republican Guard and fedayeen paramilitaries are scattered, captured or dead. Donald Rumsfeld has a slight cheer to his avuncular growls, slyly reminding us that in our more nervous editorials, the words "Vietnam" and "Grozny" and "Lebanon" were briefly hushed before being set aside by our romps into downtown Basra and Baghdad. We even, briefly, raised a few American flags in the cradle of civilization.

    Still, the speculative unease persists even as the statues are being toppled, and there's a very curious roundabout to it all. We may as well track it backward as it arose, through our experience in Vietnam. Or that of Israel (and our own Marine Corps) in Lebanon. In Vietnam, it was Ho Chi Minh's left-hand military man, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap -- more than Ho Chi Minh himself -- who devised the logistical and political mastery of war that caused us so much trouble. The general, whose own papers are now studied at West Point and Annapolis, learned his tactics from, above all, T.E. Lawrence. "My fighting gospel is T.E. Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom,'" he said. "I am never without it."

    For all the attention to books by Bernard Lewis and Kenneth Pollack, and all the caffeinated hyperactivity of the retired generals with their plastic tanks and linoleum geographies, it's surprising that no one mentions Lawrence and his masterpiece. It's especially surprising given his striking role in this conflict's provenance: As aide to Winston Churchill, and friend to Prince Faisal Hussein, T.E. Lawrence was one of the creators of Iraq, and Prince Faisal the first ruler. It was Lawrence who helped channel the Arab nationalism led by Hussein and his forces into a coherent fighting doctrine, a doctrine of a people's guerrilla war -- a doctrine whose first followers ruled all the states of the Middle East upon their creation after World War I. Laid out in Chapter 33 of his famous book, Lawrence's ideas are a more coherent (and deeply thought) analysis of the coming battles for the future of Iraq than any offered by our talking heads.

    I read this book too many years ago. Time to read it again. It's now in my exponentially expanding Amazon Wish List.

     12:02 PM - link


    More on David Neiwert's excellent series on fascism, with links to the rest of his series. The entire series is a must read.

    A little more about fascism

    More important is the effect that the absorption has had on the larger Republican Party. Just as the Southern Strategy changed the very nature of the GOP from within, so has this more recent absorption of an extremist element transformed its basic nature. Now, positions that at one time would have been considered unthinkable for Republicans -- unilateralist foreign policy, contempt for the United Nations and international law, a willingness to use war as a first resort, a visceral hatred of even the hint of liberalism -- are positions it touts prominently.

    Now its agenda aligns with the base impulses Paxton identifies as fascist, and which drove the Patriot movement: national identity uber alles; a claim of victimization; hatred of liberalism; reigniting a sense of national destiny and a closely bonded community; an appreciation of the value of violence; and of course, all of this uniting under the divinely inspired banner of George W. Bush, the Frat Boy of Destiny.

    I've said it previously, and I'll say it again: These are dangerous times.

    The more conservatives bond with their proto-fascist element; the more they attack liberals and escalate the violence against antiwar protesters; and the more that corporations like Clear Channel with ties to the Bush administration, and the White House itself, encourages this kind of activity, then the greater the danger becomes.

     11:49 AM - link


    A disturbing look at what war in Korea would mean. It's a Flash piece.



      thanks to emptybottle.org

    You might check out other pieces from YØUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES. You might find them interesting.

     11:40 AM - link

    the death of surrealism?

    I don't have any cash. Do you take mackerel?
    Fights, fury and fish... the auction of Breton's collection in Paris has got the surrealists up in arms. Fiachra Gibbons puts in a bid

    'Monsieur, you are a traitor, a traitor to France, and a philistine!" The last word was spat out in a venomous ball of phlegm. Then, without so much as an "en garde", I felt the stab of a cigarette holder in my stomach.

    Never, ever pick a fight with a surrealist. Not unless you are packing a kipper yourself, and are prepared to use it. That much I now know. But at lunchtime on Monday, when I tried to slip through the surrealist blockade of the André Breton auction at the Hôtel Drouot, I assumed a black polo neck was protection enough against accusations that I was a bourgeois lackey bent on picking the bones of the great man.

    I had gone to Paris to witness the "death of surrealism", to watch what was being called "a great national humiliation", the Passion of André Breton. That is how French intellectuals see the sale and dismemberment of the astonishing collection of surrealist masterpieces, letters, books and bric-a-brac the leader of the 20th-century's most important art movement crammed into his small apartment above the clip joints of the Rue Fontaine.

    Dali, Miro, Duchamp and Max Ernst all climbed the stairs to Breton's studio, hard by the Moulin Rouge, to take part in surrealistic experiments and pay homage to the man who wrote the Manifeste du Surréalisme in 1924. All left work behind on the walls next to the Picassos, the Magrittes, and the photographs and collages by Man Ray and the rest of the gang.

      thanks to consumptive.org

    I do like Jame's take on it:

    a funnily appropriate article about the auction of andre breton's apartment. it would seem to mark the official end of surrealism and, as an artist, as someone influenced by all that aleatoric politico-mystico mumbo jumbo, it feels a little bit liberating to know that the goods will be scattered to the four corners, falling back into dreams and lost under the couch cushions, waiting to be found again.

    Breton's goods are being dispersed but their ghosts still reside on the web — for a moment.

    André Breton
    42, rue Fontaine

    Portrait d'André Breton à Saint Cirq-Lapopie
    entre 1953 et 1962


     11:26 AM - link

    I think I'm back

    The recent incursions of reality that have been interfering with my blogging are being beaten back. Alas, it appears that the world didn't stop to wait for me. I hate it when that happens. We will just have to do the best we can.

     10:52 AM - link

      Monday   April 14   2003

    blog distractions, aka reality

    I'm afraid that linking may be light for the next few days. TestingTesting, the Internet webcast that I do from my living room, is tonight. I've been working on remodeling the TT site and getting ready for tonight's show. (Click on in for some great living room music!) I will be driving my daughter Jenny, and granddaughter Robyn, back down to Tacoma Tuesday, which is usually an all day afair. (I had Robyn Saturday night and most of Sunday which took up blogging time this weekend.) And I have two blog classes, that I am teaching, on Wednesday that I need to prepare for. Somewhere in there I need to do some paying work.

    It's not like there's a shortage of links. I will try to post as I can but don't forget that there are always the worthy entries in my blogroll to check out.

     01:43 AM - link