Pictures from the Surface of the Earth
The "Picture Haiku's"
not a soul on the streets of Butte, Montana.
It was as if I had walked into my favorite painting
of Edward Hopper:
"Early Sunday Morning", painted in 1930.
It was Sunday, indeed.
thanks to Esthet
Homeless in Gaza
by Helena Cobban
Meanwhile, are you wondering why Ariel Sharon, his tanks, his D-9 armored Caterpillar bulldozers, and his helicopter gunships seem to be going quite insanely beserk with their violence in Gaza? 12,000 Palestinians rendered homeless thru demolitions, and counting...
Well, number one, perhaps, because they can. Who's going to stop 'em? Colin Powell? The Pope? Right, I can just see Sharon quaking in his shoes at the prospect...
Also, don't under-estimate the pique of this Israeli leadership after the IDF lost two APC's full of soldiers to IEDs last week, in two consecutive days. I think a total of eleven Israeli soldiers lost their lives? ... Looks like the militants in Gaza have been picking up some tips from Lebanon's Hizbollah on how to really make a difference in Israeli thinking: hit at soldiers carrying out missions that are controversial inside Israel, rather than hitting at civilians. (Nearly all of Hizbollah's lethal actions were aimed against soldiers.)
What this portends for Gaza is that if Sharon is indeed on the way to a significant pullout there, he's going to make darn' sure he leaves a virtual wasteland behind him. "You want Gaza? Take it!" seems to be his attitude, as he makes sure there's just about nothing left standing in the Strip that's worth taking.
Children among 20 dead as Israeli army begins huge crackdown on Rafah
Palestinian fighters vow to defend camp house by house
Israel's "state terrorism" in Gaza
At this very moment (Friday, May 14), Israel army bulldozers are razing dozens of homes in the Rafah refugee camp in retaliation for the deaths of five Israeli soldiers. Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz last night authorized the army to demolish hundreds of Palestinian houses at Rafah, on the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt, so as to create a "sterile" zone hundreds of meters wide. This, in addition to dozens of homes demolished or threatened with demolition in the Zeidun refugee camp in Gaza City. According to witnesses, panic-stricken residents are grabbing whatever belongings they can carry and are fleeing, some waving white flags at approaching Israeli forces.
The demolitions are being carried out as part of a campaign of collective punishment visited on the Palestinian population of Gaza after two army troop carriers were destroyed in the wake of the Israeli invasion. The demolitions are part of an ongoing war against Palestinian civilians that goes far beyond terrorist attacks. So disproportionate is the Israeli response, so indiscriminate in its attacks upon an innocent civilian population -- some 1,200 houses have been demolished in Gaza the past three years -- that Israeli actions can only be described as state terrorism. Attacks on non-combatant populations, collective punishment and the demolition of homes are all illegal under international law and constitute war crimes, as former Israeli government minister Yossi Sarid declared today in the Haaretz newspaper.
Israeli helicopters attack civilian targets in Gaza
Gaza: horror beyond belief
The Jesus Landing Pad
Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move
It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.
But now we know.
"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.
The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.
thanks to Eschaton
The Journals of Lewis and Clark
I dispatched an express this morning to Captain Lewis at St. Louis. All our provisions, goods, and equipage on board of a boat of 22 oars [party], a large pirogue of 71 oars [in which 8 French], a second pirogue of 6 oars [soldiers], complete with sails, &c. Men completed with powder cartridges and 100 balls each, all in health and readiness to set out. (The words and phrases in brackets did not appear in the original journals. They represent additions or corrections made by several people between 1806 and the present, including Clark himself, who edited the journals before the first publication. Words and phrases in parentheses were in parentheses in the journals as originally written.) Boats and everything complete, with the necessary stores of provisions and such articles of merchandise as we thought ourselves authorized to procure-though not as much as I think necessary for the multitude of Indians through which we must pass on our road across the continent.
Captain Clark, River Dubois opposite the mouth of the Missouri River, 13 May 1804
thanks to plep
farenheit 9/11 — the temperature where freedom burns
'Farenheit 9/11' Ignites Reactions in Cannes
"What if," wonders Michael Moore, just asking, "George Bush filed a Writers Guild grievance against my film. Because the funniest lines in it are his, not mine."
Never mind Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks, Cameron Diaz and Angelina Jolie, this almost willfully unglamorous man in jeans, sandals, pullover shirt and "Made In Canada" baseball cap is the center of the Festival de Cannes' biggest media storm. Variety cheekily calls him "Fest's fave pest," while a French film magazine more grandly insists he's one man "Contre L'Empire," against the American empire.
"It's a product of the times we live in, not me," Moore said. "With what's going on in the world, in the States, this becomes a focal point because I'm willing to put my toe in the water and make a movie about something."
That movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11," which had an unprecedented five same-day screenings today, four of them for the press, became a cause celebre even before it got here when the Disney corporation refused to allow Harvey Weinstein and his Miramax division to distribute it because of the film's partisan political nature. That led, among other things, to a political cartoon with a "Snow White and the Six Dwarfs" marquee and a man saying, "Sneezy's A Bush Critic, So Disney Dumped Him."
me write good!
You are a GRAMMAR GOD!
If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!
How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
thanks to c h a n d r a s u t r a
The short version:
Google bomb the phrase "intelligent design" so any subsequent search points to a definitive article from Scientific American refuting the faith based argument against evolution.
The long version:
Of all the absurdities of the modern world, few can match the silliness of the Science deniers. A small but vocal group of religous fanatics seeks to subvert local school boards and governments in order to substitute their own religon for modern scientific theories.
Again, the Scientific American article on intelligent design is at: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
I'm seriously behind in updating the blogroll, but there are two that I wanted to get up, one a change in address and one that I have mentioned before. Liberal Arts Mafia will soon disappear from the blogosphere but fortunately it's author, Sean Hurley, will not. His new site still will have his personal links on politics and the arts as well as his professional links — Neuroinflammation.net. I never realized what an energy sucker the brain is. Firing those synapses takes a lot power...
What is the blood-brain barrier?
Although, the human brain comprises only 2% of the entire body mass, it accounts for about 20% of the glucose and oxygen that is consumed. The blood supply to the brain is both physiologically and anatomically different from that to most of the rest of the body – its most notable feature being the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is formed by brain capillary endothelial cells.
The other site is Ronni Bennett's excellent blog on aging — Time goes by. Go forth and learn from both.
'Odd Couple' Star Tony Randall Dies at 84
Tony Randall, who served as a fussy foil for Rock Hudson and Doris Day, David Letterman and Johnny Carson and, most famously, Jack Klugman on "The Odd Couple," has died at 84 after a long illness.
Randall, who had been hospitalized since December when he developed pneumonia after heart bypass surgery, died in his sleep Monday night at NYU Medical Center. His wife, Heather Harlan Randall — who had made him a father for the first time at age 77 — was by his side.
The dedicated theater advocate entered the hospital after starring in a revival of Luigi Pirandello's play "Right You Are," the 20th production of the National Actors Theatre, which Randall founded.
Broadway's marquee lights were being dimmed in his honor Tuesday night.
In September, during a speech to the National Funeral Directors Association, Randall joked about how he envisioned his own ceremony: President Bush and Vice President Cheney would show up to pay their respects, but they'd be turned away because his family knows he didn't like them.
thanks to Counterspin Central
A good man. He brought me a lot of laughter and humanity for many years. Thank you, Tony.
INTERNET GUIDE TO FREIGHTER TRAVEL
Welcome to the most comprehensive source of information about freighter travel to be found on the Internet. This site has evolved over the past three years, based mainly on my own experiences aboard ship and in dealings with agents, shipping companies, and the officers and crew of several ships.
These pages were created to provide as much information as possible to those interested in this truly unique experience. I suspect that most of you have never seen a freighter up close, let alone sailed on one. Traveling on a containership is not better than sex, though it does last longer. It is an experience you will never forget.
thanks to MetaFilter
I've added Day 4 of my trip report: Gordy and Madelane's
the iraqi intifada — vietnam, lebanon, and the west bank on internet time
Car bomb kills head of Iraq ruling council
The head of Iraqi Governing Council was killed today in a car bombing near a US checkpoint in central Baghdad, an Iraqi official said.
Abdel-Zahraa Othman, also known as Izzadine Saleem, was among four Iraqis killed in the blast, according to Redha Jawad Taki, a member of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shia Muslim organisation.
Smoke rises above central Baghdad after a bomb near the coalition HQ.
US battles fighters in Iraqi city
US troops in Iraq's holy city of Karbala have clashed with fighters loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr.
Smoke rises above central Baghdad after a bomb near the coalition HQ.
Continued Clashes in Karbala Lead to Closure of Shrines
by Juan Cole
Heavy Fighting in Karbala, Amara, Nasiriyah, Samawah
5 Americans Dead; British Kill 20 Near Amara
by Juan Cole
Italians, Pushed out of Nasiriyah, Tell Bush to Back Off
10 Italian Troops Wounded, 20 Iraqis wounded, 2 Killed
by Juan Cole
Iran Strongly Condemns US Operations in Najaf, Karbala
by Juan Cole
Iraqi Outrage Grows…
by Dahr Jamail
Iraqi Silence Indicts U.S. Occupiers
A lack of surprise at the prison abuse scandal is a symptom of the people's discontent, experts say.
Far From Ready for More War
With battered gear and nerves, a third of the Army is 'unfit to fight' but preparing to return.
19th Century Photography Paul Frecker London
The Ruins of Paris in 1871
thanks to Life In The Present
THE GRAY ZONE
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib.
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
Read it and Weep
Sy Hersh blows the cover - all of it - off the real story behind Abu Ghraib. And it's about as bad as I had expected - maybe even a little worse.
We're truly through the looking glass now, and while Sy quotes several intelligence sources who think - and fear - that the scandal will eventually result in a Church Commission-like investigation into the seamy side of the war against terror, I myself doubt it. As nation, as a degenerate republic morphing into empire, I think we're beyond that sort of exercise now.
Rumsfeld Plays "M", Gives License to Kill
by Juan Cole
Sy Hersh's expose of an ultra-secret 00 unit of two hundred inside the Pentagon is probably the nail in the coffin of Rumsfeld's tenure at the Department of Defense, and may well be a factor in the presidential elections.
Disturbingly, Sen. Joe Lieberman endorsed torture as an information extraction mechanism on Wolf Blitzer's show on Sunday. He gave the tired example of whether, if one of the 9/11 hijackers had fallen into US hands, one wouldn't have wanted all means used to extract information about the coming attack? There are several things wrong with this stance. First, torture does not work, and there is no evidence that it worked at Abu Ghuraib. Second, the argument that the ends justify the means always turns human beings into monsters. If something is morally wrong, you don't do it if you hope to remain a moral society. Society would be a lot safer if all known heads of identified criminal organizations were taken out by police snipers. We don't do that. Why? Sen. Lieberman should think about it. That way lies a descent into barbarity before which September 11 would pale.
by Charley Reese
The strategy was clear. The young Americans at Abu Ghraib were being disowned. Everyone took great care to say they were not typical, just bad apples, not representative of America's true values.
Oh? Which country has an $8 billion pornography industry? You can see stuff as raunchy as those pictures on cable television, on a zillion Internet porn sites and sometimes in gay pride parades. Whose commercial entertainment industry thinks the only things that sell are sex and violence? Which country has the largest prison population in the world? Which country, in 1999, had more than 15,000 murders and 89,000 forcible rapes?
The answer to all of the above is the United States. Those kids in the military police unit are products of American culture. And for God's sake, folks, why would anyone believe that if we are willing to shoot, bomb, burn and dismember Iraqis and destroy their country, we would hesitate to employ torture? The United States is without a doubt the most self-deluded nation on Earth, and that nest of liars who occupy Washington work full time to maintain the delusions.
US guards 'filmed beatings' at terror camp
Senator urges action as Briton reveals Guantanamo abuse/font>
Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp, an investigation by The Observer has revealed.
The disclosures, made in an interview with Tarek Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, who has been too traumatised to speak until now, prompted demands last night by senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to make the videos available immediately.
They say that if the contents are as shocking as Dergoul claims, they will provide final proof that brutality against detainees has become an institutionalised feature of America's war on terror.
thanks to Political Animal
thanks to Coudal Partners
A Rose by Any Other Name
By Umberto Eco
Translated by William Weaver
The problem frequently arises from the fact that translations are either "source-oriented" or "target oriented," as today's books on Translation Theory put it. A source-oriented translation must do everything possible to make the B-language reader understand what the writer has thought or said in language A. Classical Greek affords a typical example: in order to comprehend it at all, the modern reader must understand what the poets of that age were like and how they might express themselves. If Homer seems to repeat "rosy-fingered dawn" too frequently, the translator must not try to vary the epithet just because today's manuals of style insist we should be careful about repeating the same adjective. The reader has to understand that in those days dawn had rosy fingers whenever it was mentioned.
In other cases translation can and should be target-oriented. I will cite an example from the translation of my novel Foucault's Pendulum whose chief characters constantly speak in literary quotations. The purpose is to show that it is impossible for these characters to see the world except through literary references. Now, in chapter 57, describing an automobile trip in the hills, the translation reads "the horizon became more vast, at every curve the peaks grew, some crowned by little villages: we glimpsed endless vistas." But, after "endless vistas" the Italian text went on: "al di la della siepe, come osservava Diotallevi." If these words had been translated, literally "beyond the hedge, as Diotallevi remarked," the English-language reader would have lost something, for "al di la della siepe" is a reference to the most beautiful poem of Giacomo Leopardi, "L'infinito," which every Italian reader knows by heart. The quotation appears at that point not because I wanted to tell the reader there was a hedge anywhere nearby, but because I wanted to show how Diotallevi could experience the landscape only by linking it to his experience of the poem. I told my translators that the hedge was not important, nor the reference to Leopardi, but it was important to have a literary reference at any cost. In fact, William Weaver's translation reads: "We glimpsed endless vistas. Like Darien," Diotallevi remarked..." This brief allusion to the Keats sonnet is a good example of target-oriented translation.
thanks to Coudal Partners
Heads We Win, Tails They Lose
by Ran HaCohen
Surprise surprise: having said for almost four decades that no Jewish settlement should ever be dismantled, Sharon's plan to dismantle Jewish settlements in Gaza was rejected by his own Likud party members. You can fool all the people all the time – but don't sell them a new folly every week. Sharon was defeated by an effective campaign launched by settlers, and generously sponsored by fundamentalist Jewish anti-peace magnates abroad – the Gutniks, the Moskowitzs, the Kleins.
As Meron Benvenisti writes in an excellent analysis (Ha'aretz, 6.5.04), "The state has given a small group of skilled and fanatic activists immense bureaucratic might and economic resources, which have been invested in a sophisticated manner and transformed the settlements into one of the strongest power bases in Israel" – in spite of being less than 4% of the Israeli population.
Sharon should thank President Bush as well for his humiliating defeat: Likud members understood very well that Israel had nothing to lose by rejecting the Plan. A long list of extremist Jewish-American organizations (ZOA and their ilk) published huge ads in the Israeli press, explaining that the US would not change its Pavlovian pro-Israel anti-Palestinian policy, no matter the results.
In return for the Disengagement Plan, President Bush endorsed the route of the Apartheid Wall, recognized Israel's bigger illegal settlements as irreversible "demographic facts," and dismissed the Palestinian Right of Return. The Disengagement Plan was rejected – but don't hold your breath to hear President Bush renouncing the Apartheid Wall, condemning the "demographic facts" of the settlements, or suddenly supporting the Right of Return. When Sharon and Bush make colonialist deals over Palestinian land and freedom, the name of the game is "heads we win, tails they lose."
Robert Altman: My films are always the director's cut
He does things his way. Always has. So, Mr Pitt, you needn't bother auditioning. David Usborne meets a master
Robert Altman has a confession to make. He had been shooting his immensely successful Gosford Park, which opened in 2001, for a full six weeks before he even thought of the single element that eventually gave the film something approaching a storyline. He noticed that two of the actresses playing important "below stairs" parts, as servants in the stately home that gave the film its name, looked awfully alike.
What actually happened was that he was sitting in the cast tent on location when Helen Mirren walked by, in costume, on her first day on set. Except that Altman was sure it was one of the other actresses in the star-laden cast, Eileen Atkins. He called out Eileen's name, but, of course, Helen walked straight by without responding. Then he realised his mistake - and, after a brief panic, had a revelation.
"I thought, 'Shit, I'm in trouble, they look like sisters. They look like the same person'. And they did, there was a great similarity. But then I thought, let's make them sisters." And he did. And the sibling relationship thus created enabled Altman to give the film, a period mystery, some kind of narrative denouement. "I think the film would have fallen flat if we hadn't had that final catharsis."
Tomgram: Ward on froggy love tunnels and rewilding a continent
Chip Ward somehow manages to combine being Assistant Director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System with life as an ecological writer and activist; he's fought some pretty toxically grim developments in his own state without ever, it seems, losing heart or hope. So consider the piece that follows as his gift of hope to you, an antidote to whatever despair you may be feeling at the moment.
Having spent a little time in Vermont whose hills were denuded of most of their trees by farmers a couple of centuries back but have managed, like parts of the rest of the Northeast, to reforest themselves, I have my own private vision of a "rewilded" continent. It's mile after mile of that beautiful, soft sea of green, which, given time and farmers who mostly decided to head westward long ago, has regenerated along with a world of unexpected wildlife. Okay, it's not exactly what was once there in species terms, but it's still pretty stirring.
Tales of Future Past
thanks to The Cartoonist
does anyone feel a draft?
Kids, parents prepare for the draft
On May 5, Bush's Pentagon announced it will keep U.S. troop strength in Iraq at 135,000 through the year 2005. Mark that as the day the United States moved inevitably toward reinstating the draft – no matter who's elected.
How and why?
Since the Reagan era, the Pentagon has claimed we can fight two full-scale wars at once in two different parts of the globe. Iraq has proved that claim false. The premise was that the U.S. could bring overwhelming force to bear against any enemy and win any war quickly. Iraq and Afghanistan have taught that beating an enemy army and actually winning a war can be two very different things. We've learned the U.S. has neither enough combat-ready troops, nor enough supplies, to fight a protracted war – even when we have complete air and weapons superiority. The Pentagon organized its forces for victory, not struggle. Now it's clear that if we can't get in and out quickly, we're in bad trouble. Iraq has proved us vulnerable, and the whole world knows it. This will inevitably require a complete revision of our military, beginning with procurement.
thanks to wood s lot
The Blaschka Marine Invertebrates at Cornell University
In 1928 the naturalist William Beebe described his experiences as a helmet diver in the book Beneath Tropic Seas. Beebe felt that our existing terrestrial vocabulary was an inexact and at times unimaginative instrument for gauging the world beneath the waves. For example, he wrote: "I know the exact shade of a certain feathery sea plume, but resent having to refer to it as zinc orange. Yet I am always pleased when I detect salmon, or pearl-grey or ultramarine." Beebe struggled to present an accurate and poetic account of the fantastic visions presented to him by the ocean realm, but he was not the first. From ancient times to today, scientists, writers and artists have sought to perfect their descriptions of the deep and the creatures that thrive there. The Blaschkas, who made the glass creatures that illustrate this essay, were not the first to make models of underwater life, but they were among the most fanatic in attention to detail. They would have appreciated Beebe's subtlety of observation.
thanks to MetaFilter