There seems to be such divergent views of what is happening in the world. It all comes down to how we percieve things. This piece gets to why our perceptions are so different. Can't they see?
Can't You See? Can't You See!"
A friend recently gave me what is apparently a classic book on improvisational theater, called Impro, by Keith Johnston. The entire book is remarkable, and worth reading for anyone, not just those in the theater, but my favourite passage is the one below:
I once had a close rapport with a teenager who seemed 'mad' when she was with other people, but relatively normal when she was with me. I treated her rather as I would a Mask - that is to say, I was gentle, and I didn't try to impose my reality on her. One thing that amazed me was her perceptiveness about other people - it was as if she was a body language expert. She described things about them which she read from their movement and postures that I later found to be true, although this was at the beginning of summer school and none of us had ever met before.
I'm remembering her now because of an interaction she had with a very gentle, motherly schoolteacher. I had to leave for a few minutes so I gave the teenager my watch and said she could use it to see I was away only a very short time, and that the schoolteacher would look after her. We were in a beautiful garden (where the teenager had just seen God) and the teacher picked a flower and said: 'Look at the pretty flower, Betty.'
Betty, filled with spiritual radiance, said, 'All the flowers are beautiful.'
'Ah,' said the teacher, blocking her, 'but this flower is especially beautiful.'
Betty rolled on the ground screaming, and it took a while to calm her. No one seemed to notice that she was screaming 'Can't you see? Can't you see!"
Irwin Klein was a photographer whose work covered the years between 1962 and his untimely death in 1974. His work deserves a reconsideration for its powerful documentary and aesthetic qualities. Members of his family and close friends are searching for a forum to provide the public with an opportunity to see his important work.
middle east clusterfuck
Events in the Middle East are increasingly interconnected. Well, they always have been. It's just becoming more obvious.
Tomgram: Mark LeVine, Chaos Theory and the Middle East
Yesterday, the Israeli security cabinet authorized an expansion of the ground war in Lebanon (while its military suffered 15 dead and 25 wounded, the highest battlefield casualty rate thus far); Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to "transform our land in the south [of Lebanon] to a graveyard for Zionist invaders" and called on Haifa's Arab residents to evacuate that city; Israeli planes bombed bridges and dropped leaflets warning that "any vehicle on the roads south of the Litani River" might be destroyed, while Hezbollah rained 100 or more Katyusha rockets on northern Israel.
In Iraq, the Baghdad morgue released a staggering death toll for the month of July -- 1,815 bodies received (as many as 90% having died violently). As "a new high," this was an ominous sign of the spiraling civil war in the Iraqi capital, while in al-Anbar Province, heart of the Sunni insurgency, three more U.S. soldiers died and two Black Hawk helicopter crewmen were missing and possibly dead.
In Afghanistan, the capital, Kabul, is now experiencing an energy crisis which has left its electricity levels at lows equal to that of occupied, embattled Baghdad; while, to the south, the country is experiencing an ever more intense guerrilla war, replete with Iraqi-style suicide bombers and roadside IEDs, led by a resurgent Taliban.
These are but signs (along with rising energy prices) of the spreading chaos at the heart of what was once to be a Bush-administration-led American imperium in the Middle East (and energy-rich Central Asia). But this administration's top officials remain remarkably cloistered and undaunted. Only yesterday, according to the New York Times, Vice President Cheney "went so far as to suggest that the ouster of" Senator Joseph Lieberman by Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, "might encourage ‘al Qaeda types.'"
Collapse of the Flanks
Today, in an interview with the BBC, Jordan's King Abdullah warned that the map of the Middle East is becoming unrecognizable and its future appears "dim."
Washington, which in its hubris ignores both its friends and its enemies, refusing to talk to the latter or listen to the former, does not grasp that if the flanks collapse, it is the end of our adventures in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also, in a slightly longer time frame, the end of Israel. No Crusader state survives forever, and in the long term Israel's existence depends on arriving at some sort of modus vivendi with the region. The replacement of Mubarak, King Abdullah, and the House of Saud with the Muslim Brotherhood would make that possibility fade.
Following intellectuals' letter, Prof. Noam Chomsky explains his doctrine, discusses danger of Israel's nukes compared to 'Iranian threat,' global media's role in escalating Mideast conflict and US's place in picture
"I do not know of anyone foolhardy enough to predict. The US and Israel are stirring up popular forces that are very ominous, and which will only gain in power and become more extremist if the US and Israel persist in demolishing any hope of realization of Palestinian national rights, and destroying Lebanon. It should also be recognized that Washington’s primary concern, as in the past, is not Israel and Lebanon, but the vast energy resources of the Middle East, recognized 60 years ago to be a “stupendous source of strategic power” and “one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”
"We can expect with confidence that the US will continue to do what it can to control this unparalleled source of strategic power. That may not be easy. The remarkable incompetence of Bush planners has created a catastrophe in Iraq, for their own interests as well. They are even facing the possibility of the ultimate nightmare: a loose Shi’a alliance controlling the world’s major energy supplies, and independent of Washington – or even worse, establishing closer links with the China-based Asian Energy Security Grid and Shanghai Cooperation Council.
"The results could be truly apocalyptic. And even in tiny Lebanon, the leading Lebanese academic scholar of Hizbullah, and a harsh critic of the organization, describes the current conflict in “apocalyptic terms,” warning that possibly “All hell would be let loose” if the outcome of the US-Israel campaign leaves a situation in which “the Shiite community is seething with resentment at Israel, the United States and the government that it perceives as its betrayer.
The following elaborates on some points Chomsky made above. Iran, here we come!
New Facts Surface
If the celebrated MIT linguist is correct, our US government and media are keeping back vital information from the American public. The key information has to do with Iran’s actual positions regarding its nuclear program, and also its relation to Israel. While the US press has focused exclusively on inflammatory remarks by Iranian president Ahmadenijad, even more important statements by Iran’s head mullah, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is Ahmadenijad’s boss, have never been reported here in the US.
Beauty in Photography
by Robert Adams
I ran across this book in a post by Paul Butzi at The Online Photographer. I checked out some books of Robert Adam's photographs and they didn't really excite me but this book of eight essays does. Food for thought for photographers. And thanks to my oldest, Jenny, for giving this to me for Father's Day. I immediately read it and then read it again. A little later I read it a third time. I will keep it around to read it in the future.
The End of Lebanon?
The UN Security Council resolution draft on Lebanon reflects a new stage of Western colonialism in the Middle East, and perhaps a historic precedent: for the first time, the UN Security Council – should the resolution draft be endorsed – breaches the fundamental principle of the right of people under occupation to resist, and in fact legitimizes the violent partition of the sovereign state of Lebanon.
The American-French draft reflects the interests of three central colonial powers in the region: the U.S., the main colonial power in Iraq and Afghanistan; its client and proxy Israel, which is occupying the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza as well as part of Syria, and occupied south Lebanon for 22 years (1978-2000); and France, the former colonial empire in Lebanon after WWI. No wonder that the draft, which pays lip-service to Lebanon's sovereignty and territorial integrity, in fact suggests a partition of this small land.
They might want to talk to Hizbollah. They might have something to say about it.
This draft shows who is running America's policy... Israel
By Robert Fisk
So the great and the good on the East River laboured at the United Nations Security Council - and brought forth a lemon. You could almost hear the Lebanese groan at this draft resolution, a document of such bias and mendacity that a close Lebanese friend read carefully through it yesterday, cursed and uttered the immortal question: "Don't these bastards learn anything from history?"
And there it all was again, the warmed-up peace proposals of Israel's 1982 invasion, full of buffer zones and disarmament and "strict respect by all parties" - a rousing chortle here, no doubt, from Hizbollah members - and the need for Lebanese sovereignty. It didn't even demand the withdrawal of Israeli forces, a point that Walid Moallem, Syria's Foreign Minister - and the man the Americans will eventually have to negotiate with - seized upon with more than alacrity. It was a dead UN resolution without a total Israeli retreat, he said on a strategic trip to Beirut.
Crocodile tears of leaders as city burns
by Robert Fisk
Shortly after 4am, the fly-like buzz of an Israeli drone came out of the sky over my home. Coded MK by the manufacturers, Lebanese mothers have sought to lessen their children's fears of this ominous creature by transliterating it as "Um Kamel", the Mother of Kamel. It is looking for targets and at night, like all the massacres being perpetrated by the Israeli air force across southern Lebanon, you usually cannot see it.
What do you say to a man whose family is buried under the rubble?
by Robert Fisk
There were bulldozers turning over the tons of rubble, a cloud of dust and smoke a mile high over the smashed slums of Beirut's southern suburbs and a tall man in a grey T-shirt - a Brooklyn taxi driver, no less - standing on the verge of tears, staring at what may well be the grave of his grandfather, his uncle and aunt. Half the family home had been torn away and the entire block of civilian apartments next door had been smashed to the ground a few hours earlier by the two missiles that exploded in Asaad al-Assad Street.
Hizbollah's iron discipline is match for military machine
by Robert Fisk
Much bellowing and roaring comes from Israel about a mass military attack all the way to the Litani river. But today, much less bellowing and roaring about "rooting out" the "weed" of the Shia Muslim Hizbollah "terrorists" who are supposedly - in Israel's fantasies, at least - an ally of America's enemies in the War on Terror (a conflict which, of course, we all religiously support).
Dark Days Ahead
I’ve been back in Beirut for a few days now and I’m realizing just how difficult this war has been to cover from a journalistic standpoint. Thanks to the seemingly random nature of air-strikes (yes, I know they’re not really random) and the secretive nature of Hizbullah, getting close to the action has been exceedingly difficult. Hizbullah doesn’t allow reporters to tag along with them and getting to close to the receiving end of an Israeli artillery barrage is ill-advised. So it’s difficult to say what is really going on militarily. Perhaps some of the reporters who are embedded with the IDF can say, assuming the military censors let enough stuff through.
Anyway, in Beirut, the situation is growing dire. According to Nabil el-Jisr, coordinator for the Higher Relief Commission, Lebanon’s power plants have cut down on production in order to stretch out the fuel left in the country, but most estimates gives us about a week of diesel fuel for generators and about the same for gasoline supplies, even with rationing. Three-hour waits in lines get you 10 liters of gasoline these days. I stupidly rented a car after having no end of troubles with hiring drivers, but now I just mainly leave it parked in an attempt to save fuel.
Junkies of War
By Uri Avnery
Olmert wants to "gain" as many days as possible for continued fighting. What sort of gain is this? We are conquering South Lebanon as flies conquer fly-paper. Generals present maps with impressive arrows to show how Hizbullah is being pushed north. That might be convincing - if we were talking about a front-line in a war with a regular army, as taught in Staff College. But this is a different war altogether. In the conquered area, Hizbullah people remain, and our soldiers are exposed to attacks of the kind in which Hizbullah has excelled from its first day.
Lust For War
By Uri Avnery
Today,the war entered its fifth week. Hard to believe: our mighty army has now been fighting for 29 days against a "gang" and "terrorist organization", as the military commanders like to describe them, and the battle has still not been decided.
Morality is not on our side
By Ze'ev Maoz
There's practically a holy consensus right now that the war in the North is a just war and that morality is on our side. The bitter truth must be said: this holy consensus is based on short-range selective memory, an introverted worldview, and double standards.
This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah's side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah "started it" when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side.
Editorial: Heed the Warnings
The US and the West have good friends in the Middle East — but for how much longer? Two weeks ago Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul warned that even moderate Turks, angry at US support for Israel’s actions in Lebanon, were becoming anti-American.
Israel's March of Folly
Across the Middle East, Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, are more popular than ever. According to a New York Times story filed from Gaza, “the best-selling items for the past couple of weeks have been posters, T-shirts, buttons and coffee mugs featuring” the image of Nasrallah. Last Friday, a huge crowd of marchers took to the streets of Baghdad to show support for Hezbollah, and many smaller rallies have been held in the region.
"An Arab Guerrilla Army"
by Pat Lang
Hizbullah is proving to be something altogether new, an Arab guerrilla army with sophisticated weaponry and remarkable discipline. Its soldiers have the jihadist rhetoric of fighting to the death, but wear body armor and use satcoms to coordinate their attacks. Their tactics may be from Che, but their arms are from Iran, and not just AK-47s and RPGs. They've reportedly destroyed three of Israel's advanced Merkava tanks with wire-guided missiles and powerful mines, crippled an Israeli warship with a surface-to-sea missile, sent up drones on reconnaissance missions, implanted listening devices along the border and set up their ambushes using night-vision goggles.
The "Tabouleh Line?"
by Pat Lang
"Although the army had conquered the town, Hezbollah men were hiding in underground bunkers well camouflaged from the outside. The bunkers had been stocked with large quantities of food, enough to last for weeks, and ammunition, including antitank missiles and, in several cases, short-range rockets.
The bunkers are connected to electricity and, according to one report, are air conditioned. When the fighting dies down, Hezbollah fighters emerge from the bunkers and set up ambushes for IDF soldiers and armored vehicles.
That is why soldiers are hit repeatedly in the same places.
The Tabouleh Line - 2
by Pat Lang
"Israeli soldiers have been shaken by the fighters’ skill and commitment, describing them as an army, not a rabble. “Even I have been surprised at the tenacity of these groups fighting in the villages,” Timur Goksel, who served with UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon from 1979 to 2003, said. “They have fought far beyond my expectations and they haven’t even committed all their fully experienced troops yet.” " London Times
The Tabouleh Line - 3
One member of an Israeli tank crew who had just left Lebanon told the Guardian: "It's terrible. You do not fight anti-tank teams with tanks. You use infantry supported by artillery and helicopters. Wide valleys without shelter are the wrong place to use tanks."
Although he said Hizbullah's weapons had been supplied by Iran, Lt Col Rafowicz admitted the militants' prowess also stemmed from its morale and organisation. They are very keen to engage our forces. They are not wearing suicide bomb belts but they are not afraid to die, which makes deterrence very difficult."
Gen Nehushtan said: "We have to recognise that we will be dealing with new definitions of victory. There will be no white flags being raised on this battlefield," he said." Guardian
I am still puzzled by the assertions being made in some quarters that Hassan Nasrallah is going to accept a UN "deal" that implies that he lost the war.
Perhaps I am missing something.
Hezbollah's lack of structure its strength
As Hezbollah resists almost four weeks of Israeli air and ground operations, many analysts are calling it the most effective Arab force the Israeli army has yet faced.
The Israelis announced that 15 IDF soldiers were killed fighting in southern Lebanon today -- which I believe would make it the worst day of the war so far. The IDF claims a total of 40 Hizbullah dead.
Factoring in a moderate amount of body count inflation on the IDF's part, that looks like a 3:1 kill ratio (three Hizbullah fighters for every Israeli) or maybe even a bit lower. Not what you want to see when you're contemplating a month-long campaign to push Hizbullah all the way back to the Litani River -- a campaign that hasn't even started yet.
Fortunately, I think the Israelis are manuevering for leverage in the cease fire negotiations, and would still like to avoid actually jamming their arm up to the elbow into the meat grinder. The White House's little disinformation operation today -- calling for restraint on both sides and then guiding reporters into writing it up as "criticism" of Israel -- seemed to be designed to reinforce Israel's bluff.
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Two weeks ago Lebanon's Prime Minister was demanding an immediate cease fire while Shrub and company were insisting that only a "lasting cease fire," leading to a "permanent solution," would do.
Now it's the other way around:
A couple of years ago I got all set up to rip my vinyl to CDs. I got a record washing kit, recording and cleaning (gets rid of that hiss and those clicks and pops) software, and borrowed a turntable from a friend. All started going well until I noticed a background humm in the recordings. It turned out my friend's turntable had a broken ground wire from the cartridge and it was too thin to solder. I would have to send it off to get it repaired. I didn't want to do that. I have an old turntable and so does Zoe (she has a lot of vinyl) but both turntables are in need of repair, too. Zoe just found one of these in a catalog.
The Ion iTTUSB, a turntable with a USB connection. Plug it directly into your computer and record. It can also plug into the CD or Aux connections on your stereo receiver. I've been searching and haven't found a confirmation but it appears that it must have a built in preamp with RIAA curve that the Phono connector usually provides. They can be had for around $140. Search the web, a lot of outlets have it. I've got a brand new Grado cartridge waiting.
Ion’s new ITTUSB is exactly what it says it is.
Summer of Goodbyes...
Residents of Baghdad are systematically being pushed out of the city. Some families are waking up to find a Klashnikov bullet and a letter in an envelope with the words “Leave your area or else.” The culprits behind these attacks and threats are Sadr’s followers- Mahdi Army. It’s general knowledge, although no one dares say it out loud. In the last month we’ve had two different families staying with us in our house, after having to leave their neighborhoods due to death threats and attacks. It’s not just Sunnis- it’s Shia, Arabs, Kurds- most of the middle-class areas are being targeted by militias.
Other areas are being overrun by armed Islamists. The Americans have absolutely no control in these areas. Or maybe they simply don’t want to control the areas because when there’s a clash between Sadr’s militia and another militia in a residential neighborhood, they surround the area and watch things happen.
Since the beginning of July, the men in our area have been patrolling the streets. Some of them patrol the rooftops and others sit quietly by the homemade road blocks we have on the major roads leading into the area. You cannot in any way rely on Americans or the government. You can only hope your family and friends will remain alive- not safe, not secure- just alive. That’s good enough.
Iraq: The pro-American order falling apart?
by Helena Cobban
The situation of the US military in Iraq seems to be deteriorating fairly fast. US military commanders have been trying to sell a narrative that Iraq is "on the brink of civil war"... I'm not sure if this is intended to justify the higher profile US forces have been adopting in Baghdad, to excuse their failure to bring security to the capital and the rest of the country, or to act as a sort of early excuse for an imminent pullout (okay, more realistically, a drawdown) of of the US troop presence from the country.
A couple of things are very clear, though. One is that the US-conducted "rebuilding" of the Iraqi security forces as a single unified (and pro-US) body has failed miserably and another, that there have been numerous signs of heightened sectarian violence in and around Baghdad.
Exclusive: Iraq—Plans in Case of a Civil War
The Bush administration insists Iraq is a long way from civil war, but the contingency planning has already begun inside the White House and the Pentagon. President Bush will move U.S. troops out of Iraq if the country descends into civil war, according to one senior Bush aide who declined to be named while talking about internal strategy. "If there's a full-blown civil war, the president isn't going to allow our forces to be caught in the crossfire," the aide said. "But institutionally, the government of Iraq isn't breaking down. It's still a unity government." Bush's position on a pullout of U.S. troops emerged in response to news-week's questions about Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Warner warned last week that the president might require a new vote from Congress to allow troops to stay in Iraq in what he called "all-out civil war." But the senior Bush aide said the White House would need no prompting from Congress to get troops out "if the Iraqi government broke down completely along sectarian lines."
The Rosenfeld Collection is the largest single collection of maritime photography in the world. Consisting of over 800,000 images, the Collection spans from the 1880s to 1974, and includes two generations of Rosenfeld work. Although they became famous as yachting photographers, the early work of the Rosenfelds includes assignments in the 1920s and 1930s for corporate clients such as AT&T. The Collection contains images of such subjects as steam yachts, naval vessels, powerboats racing, and leisure activities.
This is a frustrating site since you need to know what to search for to see the photographs. Here are a few search words: j class, herreshoff, stephens, schooner, steam yachts, america's cup, or just enter rosenfeld.
The Tao of Pooh
by Benjamin Hoff
"What's this you're writing?" asked Pooh, climbing onto the writing table.
"The Tao of Pooh," I replied.
"The how of Pooh?" asked Pooh, smudging one of the words I had just written.
"The Tao of Pooh," I replied, poking his paw away with my pencil.
"It seems more like the ow! of Pooh," said Pooh, rubbing his paw.
"Well, it's not," I replied huffily.
"What's it about?" asked Pooh, leaning forward and smearing another word.
"It's about how to stay happy and calm under all circumstances!" I yelled.
"Have you read it?" asked Pooh.
This is a book that I read every few years. I seem to be needing to read it more often.
BRITISH PETROLEUM’S “SMART PIG”
The Brilliantly Profitable Timing of the Alaska Oil Pipeline Shutdown
Is the Alaska Pipeline corroded? You bet it is. Has been for more than a decade. Did British Petroleum shut the pipe yesterday to turn a quick buck on its negligence, to profit off the disaster it created? Just ask the “smart pig.”
Years ago, I had the unhappy job of leading an investigation of British Petroleum’s management of the Alaska pipeline system. I was working for the Chugach villages, the Alaskan Natives who own the shoreline slimed by the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker grounding.
Even then, courageous government inspectors and pipeline workers were screaming about corrosion all through the pipeline. I say “courageous” because BP, which owns 46% of the pipe and is supposed to manage the system, had a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.
In one case, BP’s CEO of Alaskan operations hired a former CIA expert to break into the home of a whistleblower, Chuck Hamel, who had complained of conditions at the pipe’s tanker facility. BP tapped his phone calls with a US congressman and ran a surveillance and smear campaign against him. When caught, a US federal judge said BP’s acts were “reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”
The Vietnam Syndrome
In the 1960s, the United States blanketed the Mekong River delta with Agent Orange, a chemical defoliant more devastating than napalm. Thirty years after the end of the Vietnam War, the chemical is still poisoning the water and coursing through the blood of a third generation. From Ho Chi Minh City to the town of Ben Tre—and from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Hackettstown, New Jersey—the photographer James Nachtwey went in search of the ecocide's cruelest legacy, horribly deformed children in both Vietnam and America. Nachtwey, arguably the most celebrated war photographer of his generation, sees the former conflict in Southeast Asia as a touchstone for his work. "My decision to become a photographer," he says, "was inspired by photographs from the Vietnam War." This expanded photo essay from the land of Agent Orange—part of which appears in the August V.F. with an accompanying essay by Christopher Hitchens—makes clear, according to Nachtwey, that "the effects of war no longer end when the shooting stops."
U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution
A comparison of peoples' views in 34 countries finds that the United States ranks near the bottom when it comes to public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower.
Among the factors contributing to America's low score are poor understanding of biology, especially genetics, the politicization of science and the literal interpretation of the Bible by a small but vocal group of American Christians, the researchers say.
“American Protestantism is more fundamentalist than anybody except perhaps the Islamic fundamentalist, which is why Turkey and we are so close,” said study co-author Jon Miller of Michigan State University.
thanks to Magpie
The Size Of Our World
The end of the beginning
Regardless of any impending ceasefire, the removal of Hizbullah and the Iranian nuclear position sets up the prospect of an US war against Iran
US forces are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in the Middle East in a few hours. US readiness for more war is just one indicator that the present war is likely to spread and intensify in the coming months
Unnoticed amidst coverage of the war, Iran has rejected a UN resolution demanding it halt uranium enrichment. Condoleezza Rice anticipates that on the nuclear issue: "when the Iranians get past this August 31 deadline, I think they're going to see sanctions from the international system that are going to start to make life pretty miserable." Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, stated back in April that the decisive point in Iran's development of nuclear arms would come in months.
Both the Iranian and US governments regard the fighting in Lebanon and Israel as related to their own conflict. President Bush made the end of Iranian and Syrian support of Hizbullah a condition of any ceasefire, though he has since softened his stance at the UN. Condoleezza Rice remarked that "we do know that this is more than just Hizbullah in Lebanon. This is an extension of Iranian power through a proxy war."
US Intelligence Chief, John Negroponte, told the US Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this year that Iran regarded Hizbullah as "a critical regime safeguard by deterring US and Israeli attacks". With Hezbollah already at war, this "safeguard" is in the process of being removed.
My birthday is coming up on the 24th (my 62nd) and Zoe has been planning to do something extra for me. Some time ago Zoe had talked this over with Gerry (when Gerry was more lucid). Through all we have been going through with Gerry, Gerry has recognized what I've done for her in caring for her. She didn't like me much when I first started going out with Zoe, but over the last couple of years of taking care of her she has come to love me and sees me like a son. So Gerry and Zoe went in on an extra special birthday present for me. Since there was a no shipping charge special, we ordered the first part early and it will arrive Monday.
It's a Dell XPS 400 with a Pentium® D Processor 820 with Dual Core Technology (2.80GHz). It has 1GB memory and a 250GB hard drive. It will come with a 19" Ultrasharp flat panel display. My old 1.1 GHz Athlon, from 2001, has been getting pretty creaky and I'm starting to run across things it won't do. To say that I'm excited about this would be an understatement. But wait! There's more!
I won't be getting this until late August or early September since it won't be available until then. It's a HP Photosmart Pro B9180 ink jet printer. (There is a video review at photo-i.) It's a professional printer that will print up to 13" wide and 44" long with archival pigment inks. I had been considering the Epson but early reviews make the HP look like the machine to get. It's built like a tank, is self-calibrating, has user replacable print heads, and is supposed to be much more frugal with ink. The output appears to be better than the already excellent Epson. Prints are supposed to last over 200 years. This is the big essential piece of my photography puzzle that has been missing. It's nice to take pictures to put up on the web but photography is about prints and that is something I haven't been able to do at the level I need. This will let me do things I've been wanting to do for years. I can't thank Gerry and Zoe enough for this. And an extra special thanks to my LOML, Zoe. I love you, Zoe, and thanks for everything.
Suffering in Gaza, lest we forget
July was the most lethal month for the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and Gaza since the terrible month of April 2002.
The MSM in the US seems to have almost completely stopped reporting on the horrors inside Gaza. Which doesn't mean they're not happening...
In July, according to this report from B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories,
the Israeli military killed 163 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 78 of whom (48 percent) were not taking part in the hostilities when they were killed. Thirty-six of the fatalities were minors, and 20 were women. [Meanwhile,] In the West Bank , 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in July.
Wednesday Zoe and I drove down to Tacoma to visit Gerry. Gerry was transferred to Western State Hospital two weeks ago. It was a nightmare day when she was admitted. Zoe has called daily keeping track of her progress. It sounded like she was calming down and getting some better but getting reports from people who have only known here for a few days doesn't give a good sense of what is going on to those of us that have been watching Gerry's deterioration over a long period of time. To complicate Gerry's situation, they moved her to another ward on Monday and that entire ward is moving today. Not good for Alzheimer's patients. As we were let into the ward we could see Gerry. We called out to her but she didn't notice us. She was walking again, which was very good, but was stooped over. We caught up with her and hugged her. She seemed to recognize us then. It was obvious she was having back pain. We dropped off some stuff for her in her bedroom, told the nurse about her pain, and went outside to visit her in a fenced in patio. She was doing much better in some ways. She was walking again and she wasn't so amped up. But, in other ways, she was worse. In the past she would quickly recognize and greet us. Not this time. Her speech seemed more muddled. Gerry has always been one to dress well. (She and her husband used to own a clothing store in West Hartford, CT.) At HomePlace she always looked nice. She can't wear her own clothes here. She had on red sweatpants and a red sweatshirt. And the reds didn't match. Not something she would ever have worn. At one point, when Zoe was off talking to the social worker, Gerry reached down to the edge of her sweatshirt, where it was against her sweatpants and was talking about how the colors were different. Nor was she wearing her upper dentures. Gerry didn't seem to be aware of that. Gerry used to sleep with her dentures in. She used to be embarrased to be seen without them. The nursing staff didn't seem to know where they were. We sat and held her hand and showed her old family photographs that I had scanned and printed out. She seemed to recognize everyone in the pictures. It's hard to tell what behavior is because of the meds and what behavior is being caused by the Alzheimer's. However,it's clear to us that there is still part of Gerry there. It's just that the Gerry part is getting dimmer and dimmer. The good news is that the social worker thinks they can get her stabilized and we will be able to get her back close to us. The last month and a half has been a fast downhill slide for Gerry.
oil and the middle east clusterfuck
Surprised that oil might have something to do with turmoil in the Middle East? I hope it's not to much of a shock. Juan Cole, along with Helena Cobban and Robert Fisk, are the most informed and insightful commentators and reporters on the Middle East. This is a good one from Juan Cole. A very good one.
One Ring to Rule Them
by Juan Cole
The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? And, why was Hizbullah's rocket capability so crucial that it provoked Israel to this orgy of destruction? Most of the rockets were small katyushas with limited range and were highly inaccurate. They were an annoyance in the Occupied Golan Heights, especially the Lebanese-owned Shebaa Farms area. Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country?
It doesn't make any sense.
Moreover, the Lebanese government elected last year was pro-American! Why risk causing it to fall by hitting the whole country so hard?
And, why was Condi Rice's reaction to the capture of two Israeli soldiers and Israel's wholesale destruction of little Lebanon that these were the "birth pangs" of the "New Middle East"? How did she know so early on that this war would be so wideranging? And, how could a little border dispute in the Levant signal such an elephantine baby's advent? Isn't it because she had, like Tony Blair, been briefed about the likelihood of a war by the Israelis, or maybe collaborated with them in the plans, and also conceived of it in much larger strategic terms?
I've had a message from a European reader that leads me to consider a Peak Oil Theory of the US-Israeli war on Lebanon (and by proxy on Iran). I say, "consider" the "theory" because this is a thought experiment. I put it on the table to see if it can be knocked down, the way you would preliminary hypotheses in a science experiment.
On a similar note from the peak oil crowd:
Middle East at a crossroads
At the fifth annual conference of ASPO (the Association for the Study of Peak Oil), held in July in Pisa, Italy, there were many excellent presentations, one of which I will report on at some length below.
But the timing of the conference proved ominous. During two weeks of travel in Italy I had only occasional access to the Internet or to other news sources, and heard only sporadic reports on the unfolding crisis in Israel, Gaza, and Lebanon. Back home, I quickly caught up on the events.
The situation clearly requires comment, as it has enormous implications both for the world as a whole and for the small but growing community of people involved in preparations for Peak Oil. Mainstream reporting seems to miss much of the context of events and, when discussing the Middle East, the geopolitical struggle for control of energy resources nearly always forms much of that context.
thanks to The Oil Drum
Steven B. Smith
thanks to The Online Photographer
I am always amazed to listed to talking heads and politicians talking about Israel's right to defend itself. Are they willfully ignorant or just stupid? Hizbullah has never invaded Israel while Israel had invaded Lebanon several times and, from the early days of Zionism, Israel has seen the northern boundry of Israel being the boundry of ancient israel: the Litani River in Lebanon. Israel occupied Lebanon for 18 years. They invaded in 1982. When they stayed Hizbullah was formed to drive the Israelis out, which they did in 2000. Hizbullah is there to keep the Israeli's from invading, which Israel has been planning for this past year. It didn't work in 1982 and it won't work now. Israel is the master of pretending to be the victim when they are the agressor. It's a pretense that only the American TV watching public swallows. Anyway, Helena Cobban is back. She knows many of the players on both sides and lived in Lebanon during the civil war. She is always a must read. Now she is a really truly must read.
Dimensions of the Lebanon crisis
by Helena Cobban
Note 1: Israel getting bogged down (already) in Lebanon
The veteran Israeli peace activist and former Member of Knesset Uri Avnery had it completely right when he wrote on August 5,
We are conquering South Lebanon as flies 'conquer' fly-paper. Generals present maps with impressive arrows to show how Hizbullah is being pushed north. That might be convincing - if we were talking about a front-line in a war with a regular army, as taught in Staff College. But this is a different war altogether. In the conquered area, Hizbullah people remain, and our soldiers are exposed to attacks of the kind in which Hizbullah has excelled from its first day.
Entire Lebanese family killed in Israeli attack on hospital
by Robert Fisk
An attack on a hospital, the killing of an entire Lebanese family, the seizure of five men in Baalbek and a new civilian death toll - 468 men, women and children - marked the 22nd day of Israel's latest war on Lebanon.
Slaughter in Qana
By Robert Fisk
Qana again. AGAIN! I write in my notebook. Ten years ago, I was in the little hill village in southern Lebanon when the Israeli army fired artillery shells into the UN compound and killed 106 Lebanese, more than half of them children. Most died of amputation wounds - the shells exploded in the air - and now today I am heading south again to look at the latest Qana massacre.
Fifty-nine dead? Thirty-seven? Twenty-eight? An air strike this time, and the usual lies follow. Ten years ago, Hizbollah were "hiding" in the UN compound. Untrue. Now, we are supposed to believe that the dead of Qana - today's slaughter - were living in a house which was a storage base for Hizbollah missiles. Another lie - because the dead were all killed in the basement, where they would never be if rockets were piled floor-to-ceiling. Even Israel later abandons this nonsense. I watch Lebanese soldiers stuffing the children's corpses into plastic bags - then I see them pushing the little bodies into carpets because the bags have run out.
It's about annexation, stupid!
Officially, Israel's ground invasion of Lebanon is an act of self-defense against Hezbollah's threat, aimed at creating a security buffer zone until the arrival of a "multinational force with an enforcement capability". But increasingly, as the initial goal of a narrow strip of only a few kilometers has now been extended up to the Litani River deep in Lebanon, the real motives behind Israel's invasion are becoming crystal-clear.
It's about (de facto) annexation, stupid. This is a war to annex a major chunk of Lebanese territory without necessarily saying so, under the pretext of security buffer and deterrence against future attacks on Israel.
"You reach a place where you look at life like it's nothing."
By Dahr Jamail
Walking into the scene of the massacre yesterday in Qana felt like entering a bottomless pit of despair. A black whole of sadness, regardless of the fact that the bodies of the women, 37 young children, the elderly, and what few men were there had been removed.
Mohammad Zatar, the 32-year-old Lebanese Red Cross volunteer I spoke with down in Tyre, after we'd been to Qana, described the scene and the feelings better than I can.
"I worked to rescue people after the first Qana massacre in 1996," he told me as we stood in front of the Red Cross headquarters. "But this one was so much worse. It was the ages. So many baby kids, unlike last time. Four months to 12 years. Only six adult bodies! Only 8 injured survivors. The rest -- all kids. There were no scratches on the bodies because they were all buried in the rubble. It was a bad scene."
Aid lifeline broken after Israelis hit highway
Israeli aircraft struck deep into Lebanon yesterday, killing at least 33 Syrian Kurdish farm workers and destroying four bridges on a key aid route leading north from Beirut.
Hizbullah's attacks stem from Israeli incursions into Lebanon
As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism.
Sadly, this is pure analytical nonsense. Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict.
Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.
The Meat Grinder
So, after much indecision and trepidation, the Israeli War Cabinet has decided to step up the pace of the IDF's slow-motion invasion of southern Lebanon.
In a major expansion of its ground offensive, Israel has decided to send troops deeper into Lebanon to clear out Hezbollah fighters and secure the territory until a multinational force is deployed there, senior officials said Tuesday.
The Israelis are doing this with all the dash and elan of a man sticking his hand down a garbage disposal -- one that has already claimed a couple of fingers.
The Portmanteau Resolution
It's difficult to know exactly what to make of the proposed UN Security Council resolution the Anglos and the French have finally managed to hammer out -- in part because it's really two resolutions jammed together one.
Wealth and Democracy
by Kevin Phillips
The influence of money on government is now, more then ever, a hot political issue. With a grand historical sweep that covers more than three centuries, Phillips's astute analysis of the effects of wealth and capital upon democracy is both eye-opening and disturbing. While his main thrust is an examination of "the increasing reliance of the American economy on finance," Phillips weaves a far wider, nuanced tapestry. Carefully building his arguments with telling detail (the growth of investment capitalism in Elizabethan England was essentially the result of privateering and piracy) and statistical evidence, he charts a long, exceptionally complicated history of interplay between governance and the accumulation of wealth. Explicating late-20th-century U.S. capitalism, for instance, by drawing comparisons to the technological advances and ensuing changes in commerce in the Renaissance, he also discusses how 18th-century Spanish colonialism is relevant to how "lending power began to erode... broad prosperity" in 1960s and '70s America. Finding detailed correspondences between the giddy greediness of America's Gilded Age (complete with a surprising quote from Walt Whitman "my theory includes riches and the getting of riches") and the "great technology mania and bubble of the 1990s," Phillips (The Cousins' War, etc.), noted NPR political analyst, notes that "the imbalance of wealth and democracy in the United States is unsustainable," as it was in highly nationalistic mid-18th-century Holland and late-19th-century Britain both of which underwent major social and political upheaval from the middle and underclasses. Lucidly written, scrupulously argued and culturally wide-ranging, this is an important and deeply original analysis of U.S. history and economics.
Put simply, wealth and democracy are mutually exclusive terms. There never has been a "free market". It has always been controlled by the rich to their benefit. There have been a few times when the rich were slowed down, the New Deal under FDR is one, but they are back in control more than ever. Phillips covers this in detail from the founding of this country. What is very illuminating, and scary, is how the US is tracking the trajectory of the previous world economic leaders: Spain, Holland, and Britain. We have moved from a manufacturing country to one that plays financial markets. The same track the other world economic leaders took just before their demise. Read it and be concerned. Very concerned.
This is an excellent series on the worlds oceans. Or what is left of them. They are in bad shape. Really bad shape. Do read this. The home page of the series is confusing. Lots of Flash, so I have a link to the home page and links to the individual articles.
thanks to The Agonist
A Primeval Tide of Toxins
Runoff from modern life is feeding an explosion of primitive organisms. This 'rise of slime,' as one scientist calls it, is killing larger species and sickening people.
Sentinels Under Attack
Toxic algae that poison the brain have caused strandings and mass die-offs of marine mammals — barometers of the sea's health.
Dark Tides, Ill Winds
With sickening regularity, toxic algae blooms are invading coastal waters. They kill sea life and send poisons ashore on the breeze, forcing residents to flee.
Plague of Plastic Chokes the Seas
On Midway Atoll, 40% of albatross chicks die, their bellies full of trash. Swirling masses of drifting debris pollute remote beaches and snare wildlife.
A Chemical Imbalance
Growing seawater acidity threatens to wipe out coral, fish and other crucial species worldwide.
thanks to wood s lot
Ambassador claims shortly before invasion, Bush didn't know there were two sects of Islam
A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.
Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”
thanks to Huffington Post
How can such a dumbfuck be running this circus?
General John Abizaid: Iraq Is As Bad As I've Seen It
In the four years from 1941-45, America fought two wars on different sides of the earth; developed, built, and deployed atomic weapons; and thought through those important words, "What comes next."
Nearly five years after bin Laden, despite an American occupation, Iraq is about to blow. We are still engaged in fighting -- and the problems are increasing, not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan.
Let's just forget for a moment that some in the Bush administration advocated Israel striking Syria -- and that we have a hot crisis in the Middle East between Israel and Lebanon, a bleeding ulcer in the Palestine-Israel conflict, and a brewing set of problems with both Iran and North Korea.
This exchange today at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
SEN. CARL LEVIN: Do you agree, General, that -- with the ambassador from Britain to Iraq that Iraq is sliding towards civil war?
GEN. ABIZAID: I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war.
Iraqi civil war has already begun, U.S. troops say
While American politicians and generals in Washington debate the possibility of civil war in Iraq, many U.S. officers and enlisted men who patrol Baghdad say it has already begun.
Army troops in and around the capital interviewed in the last week cite a long list of evidence that the center of the nation is coming undone: Villages have been abandoned by Sunni and Shiite Muslims; Sunni insurgents have killed thousands of Shiites in car bombings and assassinations; Shiite militia death squads have tortured and killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Sunnis; and when night falls, neighborhoods become open battlegrounds.
thanks to Huffington Post
Tomgram: Judith Coburn on Flunking Counterinsurgency 101
Now consider Iraq. The U.S. military -- even more now than then the mightiest force on the planet -- has been fought to something like a stalemate by perhaps 20,000 relatively underarmed (compared to the Vietnamese) insurgents in a rag-tag minority rebellion, lacking a unified political party or program, or support from any major state power. Now consider Lebanon, where the mightiest regional military in the Middle East, the Israeli Army, which in 1982 made it to Beirut in a flash before bogging down for 18 years, has in the last three weeks not managed to secure several miles on the other side of its own border against another relatively isolated minority guerrilla movement. This perhaps tells us something about the way, in this new millennium, we are not in the Vietnam era, but you'd be hard-pressed to know that from the Bush administration's recent policies.
What's so grimly fascinating, as Coburn indicates below, is that our old counterinsurgency policies, which didn't work in Vietnam, have now proved utterly bankrupt against vastly weaker forces. On guerrilla war, our leaders, political and military, are evidently nothing short of brain-dead. Now, consider Coburn's striking piece on two failed wars, two disastrous eras of U.S. military policy abroad, and wonder whether we aren't really in Hell.
the scott and monica memorial jupiter 12
A couple of weeks ago I really outdid myself and destroyed my precious 35mm Jupiter 12. A week ago I got an email from Scott and Monica from Australia with an offer to send a mint Jupiter 12, that wasn't being used, my way to replace the dead J12. It arrived yesterday and it is a beauty.
I feel much better now. Many thanks to Scott and Monica!
No Lights in Gaza
"We Have a Death Warrant For Your Home"
In Gaza the people have long endured the night-time terror of sonic-booms even before the low-flying, sound-barrier-breaking jets were accompanied by bombs and exploding shells. Now, as the war in Gaza continues unabated, the Israeli forces are tripling their psychological attacks against the already terrified civilians. Everyone can remember waking in the dark of night and calling out for a light. Everyone has heard their own little ones whimpering as they wake from a nightmare and everyone knows that to be soothed and to sooth and comfort, a light is turned on to disperse the shadows from the corners and make lie to the fears of the child.
''No, there is no one behind the door who will harm you my darling.''
But there are no lights in Gaza, and flickering candlelight only heightens the fear and anxiety in the face of the mother when she tries to comfort a child. She can not say that no one is behind the door because there well might be, and if they are there they will harm her child, as the statistics of this conflict shamefully show.
There is no light, there is no fresh water to give the people, there is no sewage system and there is no way that the hospitals will be able to continue functioning. All these factors are frightening. That the 1.3 million people in Gaza will slowly starve to death, or die of some unsanitary disease, is frightening. It is the feeling that one might have in a confined space wondering how long the air will last
The Israeli Army are now calling residents on their mobile phones them to warn them of an imminent raid on their family home.
Witnesses in Gaza tell of the following messages they have received: "If you want to give shelter to terrorists, we will destroy your house, as we are destroying the houses of Lebanon," and ''Name and Surname, here is the IDF, you have just one hour to leave your house and to advise all your neighbors, as after that we will destroy your house. We have a death warrant for your home."
an odd duck but a rather pretty one
I was at a party at my son's last week taking pictures with my Leica IIIc and Zorki 3M. A friend I hadn't seen in some time, J.P. (as in Morgan), noticed it and mentioned that he had his father's old camera and that I could have it if I wanted it. That got me quivering. Yesterday I dropped by and picked it up. It's an Akarelle.
I had never heard of Aka cameras before. The Akarelle was built between 1954 and 1957. J.P.'s dad picked it up in the mid 50s when he was living in Germany. It's really a pretty little thing.
The Zorki 3M towers above it.
The bevel on the viewfinder is missing. The viewfinder is pretty dim. Something that cleaning up some glass surfaces should take care of. The double windows suggest a rangefinder with the worlds smallest rangefinder base but there is no internal rangefinder. There are brightlines for 50mm and 90mm.It has a cute little film advance lever. Push on the R lever and you can rewind.
The back opens up along the split line.
Once inside you see some very nice die castings in a black crinkle finish. Really nicely finished inside. And outside, too.
If you were paying attention at the inside shot you would have seen that the Akarelle has a leaf shutter. This is something that I've never seen before -- a leaf shutter camera with interchangeable lenses where the shutter is not in the lenses. (Does anyone know of another one?) The shutter is a Prontor SVS very much like the Prontor SV in my Agfa Isolette II. The shutter was jammed but, with a little fiddling, I got it to start firing again, except for the slow speeds. 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, and 1/300, plus B, seem to work fine. 1/10, 1/5, 1/2, and 1 second open but do not close. The lens cap screws into filter threads. The lens screws on to the shutter with a threaded collar. The lens is am Isco-Gottingen Color-Isconar 1:2.8/50. Not one I've ever heard of. There were a variety of lenses for this camera in 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 90mm. J.P said he was always impressed with how sharp the pictures were. The lens seems to be a four element in two groups. It focuses just like my Isolette by rotating the front group.
The collar that attaches to the front focusing element is missing a set screw so it falls off. Even it is a nice casting.
Attached to the strap of the never ready case is a leather pouch that contains the Akameter -- an external rangefinder.
Looking through the rangefinder window you see a center orange area. Just match the images. Read the distance on the dial and then set the focus ring on the lens to that distance.
It will work just fine on my Agfa Isolette II, too.
The little Akarelle is a curious mixture of sophisticated manufacturing and old technology with it's Prontor shutter and front element lens focus. I really like it. When I get some of my other camera projects done I will get this one working again. It doesn't really give me anything that my Leica and Zorki don't already have but it's so cute! It would be a shame for such a nice little camera to sit on a shelf. I have no idea what I will do with it but I will worry about that later. I do thank J.P. for sharing this little jewel with me.