Here is a little promo piece I did for our upcoming show with Firesign Theatre alumnus David Ossman. We've had him on our show twice before and it's always a fun evening. Jim, at Whole Wheat Radio, asked me to put together a little promo for the Ossman show. Here it is for my fearless readers. I have an MP3 and a RealAudio version. It's about two minutes long.
Click on in December 15, at 7pm (pacific), to hear David in action.
I Had A Farm in Africa...?
Well, it does have an element of missionary zeal; Ethan Zuckerman's initiative, that is. Ethan, whose statistical models for information flow include the remarkable Global Attention Profiles map and data sets charting Western media coverage of countries worldwide, operates out of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and heads up the BlogAfrica project. Much like blogging's cardinal oligarch Dave Winer, he has broad vision and unbounded enthusiasm. It is usually wise to treat such people with caution but, as Ethan has promised not to unleash Dave on the continent early in 2004, I reckon he must be in possession of a sound mind spurred by noble intent.
BlogAfrica is a project designed to increase the numbers of people blogging in and about Africa and to increase the visibility of weblogs about Africa. The BlogAfrica project will include an index of Africa-centric blogs, hosting space for bloggers in Africa and workshops and events that will bring together bloggers from Africa with bloggers from around the world. BlogAfrica is planning its first set of workshops in Accra, Ghana in January 2004. Our team plans to be in Accra from January 10 - 20th, and we hope to offer a number of workshops at locations around Accra, Legon and Cape Coast
Sounds good, eh?
My wife's not a blogger but she is married to one. It influences her opinion. "So what do they want? Fifty million malnourished AIDS victims with laptops? Or is this only for our local gougers and the guys who get to ride in the motorcade?" she asked. She sometimes resents the time I spend at the PC so I generally take such comments with a pinch of salt before chasing her down to the river to do the washing and slaughter a goat for lunch. "I'm hungry. Watch out for the crocs."
Welcome to the BlogAfrica Catalog
This is an open listing of Africa-related weblogs.
thanks to Out2Lunch
Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow
After spending some time last month trying to develop alternate graphic presentations for kinematic ratios in winged flight, I decided to try to answer one of the timeless questions of science: just what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
What do you mean, an African or European Swallow?
thanks to MetaFilter
While the cat is away, the mice *will* play.
When Citibank was casting around for a brand name speaker at its annual retreat here, the bank spurned the usual Western investors. Instead, Citibank chose the Chinese ambassador, Lu Shumin, one of a new generation of diplomats from Beijing who speak flawless English and play a mean game of golf.
The envoy's presentation was relentlessly upbeat: what Southeast Asia sells, China buys. Oil, natural gas and aluminum to build bigger bridges, taller buildings, faster railroads to serve the country's flourishing cities, like Shanghai, which is beginning to make New York City look like a small town. Palm oil for frying all that food for the swelling middle class, even eggs from faraway New Zealand on the region's southern periphery.
China's buying spree and voracious markets provide the underpinning, he said, for the peaceful coexistence that everyone wants.
Contrast this with the dour message from the United States. Congratulations, said President Bush to the Indonesians during his short stopover in October, for "hunting and finding dangerous killers." Cannily, China has wasted little time in capitalizing on the United States preoccupation with the campaign on terror to greatly expand its influence in Asia.
But the deeper problem is not one of style but of substance. Bush's trips to Southeast Asia and Australia focused single-mindedly on the war on terror. Karim Raslan, a Malaysian writer, explained the local reaction: "Bush came to an economic group [APEC] and talked obsessively about terror. He sees all of us through that one prism. Yes, we worry about terror, but frankly that's not the sum of our lives. We have many other problems. We're retooling our economies, we're wondering how to deal with the rise of China, we're trying to address health, social and environmental problems. Hu talked about all this; he talked about our agenda, not just his agenda."
There is a lack of empathy emanating from Washington. After the Bali bombings, which were Australia's Sept. 11, the administration did not bother to send a high-level envoy to a steadfast ally for condolences. Australians had to make do with a videotape of George Bush. Even last week, Bush could surely have arranged to meet in Baghdad with a few troops from allied countries who are also fighting and dying in Iraq.
What is most dismaying about this state of affairs is that for the past 50 years the United States has skillfully merged its own agenda with the agendas of others, creating a sense of shared interests and values. When Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy waged the Cold War, they also presented the world with a constructive agenda dealing with trade, poverty and health. They fought communism with one hand and offered hope with the other. We have fallen far from that model if the head of the Chinese Communist Party is seen as presenting the world with a more progressive agenda than the president of the world's leading democracy.
thanks to Talking Points Memo
thanks to Wooster Collective
gays in the military
How 'Don't Tell' Translates
Cathleen Glover was cleaning the pool at the Sri Lankan ambassador's residence recently when she heard the sound of Arabic drifting through the trees. Glover earned $11 an hour working for a pool-maintenance company, skimming leaves and testing chlorine levels in the backyards of Washington. No one knew about her past. But sometimes the past found her.
She learned Arabic at the Defense Language Institute (DLI), the military's premier language school, in Monterey, Calif. Her timing as a soldier was fortuitous: Around her graduation last year, a Government Accounting Office study reported that the Army faced a critical shortage of linguists needed to translate intercepts and interrogate suspects in the war on terrorism.
"I was what the country needed," Glover said.
She was, and she wasn't. Glover is gay. She mastered Arabic but couldn't handle living a double life under the military policy known as "don't ask, don't tell." After two years in the Army, Glover, 26, voluntarily wrote a statement acknowledging her homosexuality.
Confronted with a shortage of Arabic interpreters and its policy banning openly gay service members, the Pentagon had a choice to make.
Which is how former Spec. Glover came to be cleaning pools instead of sitting in the desert, translating Arabic for the U.S. government.
Again, religious orthodoxy trumps reality.
I bought my first 35mm camera when I was 13. I saved up my summer job earnings, at 25 cents per hour, and bought a Petri 35. That was in 1958. It was before child labor laws. I'll never forget one of the moments when I realized photography was more than reporting. It was 1963 and I was an Architecture student at the University of Washington (Seattle). I was in the University Book Store and saw a little portfolio of plates from the Eliot Porter book The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado. How could the colors be so intense and the images so sharp. Years later I discovered large format photography and dye transfer. I still have those color lithograph prints.
Eliot Porter (1901–1990) introduced color to landscape photography. In so doing, he created a new way of viewing the world that today has become commonplace. An artist with strong scientific and environmental interests, Porter took up color in 1939, long before his fellow photographers accepted the medium, to produce more accurate photographs of birds. Soon thereafter, he expanded his focus to celebrate the colorful beauty of nature in general. Over a fifty-year career that includes works from Maine to China, he built a broad popular reputation based on thousands of richly hued prints and twenty-five books. His work energized environmentalists, drew accolades from museums, and created the foundations for today’s color nature photography.
Hack the Vote
Inviting Bush supporters to a fund-raiser, the host wrote, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." No surprise there. But Walden O'Dell — who says that he wasn't talking about his business operations — happens to be the chief executive of Diebold Inc., whose touch-screen voting machines are in increasingly widespread use across the United States.
For example, Georgia — where Republicans scored spectacular upset victories in the 2002 midterm elections — relies exclusively on Diebold machines. To be clear, though there were many anomalies in that 2002 vote, there is no evidence that the machines miscounted. But there is also no evidence that the machines counted correctly. You see, Diebold machines leave no paper trail.
Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, who has introduced a bill requiring that digital voting machines leave a paper trail and that their software be available for public inspection, is occasionally told that systems lacking these safeguards haven't caused problems. "How do you know?" he asks.
Bev Harris started this ball rolling. Check out her site: Black Box Voting
phantom terrorist organizations
'Al-Qaeda bombing foiled' says the front page of today's UK Sun, reporting the arrest yesterday of 24-year-old student Sajid Badat in Gloucester, England, on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity. Other reports have referred to Badat as 'having links with al-Qaeda' and being a potential 'suicide bomber' (1).
Also this week, media reports claim that al-Qaeda may have developed 'car-bomb capability' in the USA, and that al-Qaeda has compiled a 'kidnappers' manual' and is plotting to snatch American troops from Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Every day since the 9/11 attacks of 2001 there have been media reports about al-Qaeda - its leaders, members, capabilities, bank accounts, reach and threat. What is this al-Qaeda? Does such a group even exist?
Some terrorism experts doubt it. Adam Dolnik and Kimberly McCloud reckon it's time we 'defused the widespread image of al-Qaeda as a ubiquitous, super-organised terror network and call it as it is: a loose collection of groups and individuals that doesn't even refer to itself as al-Qaeda'. Dolnik and McCloud - who first started studying terrorism at the prestigious Monterey Institute of International Studies in California - claim it was Western officials who imposed the name 'al-Qaeda' on to disparate radical Islamic groups and who blew Osama bin Laden's power and reach 'out of proportion'. Both are concerned about the threat of terror, but argue that we should 'debunk the myth of al-Qaeda' (2).
thanks to Jeroen's Semi Blog
It always seemed that al-Qaeda was overblown. I didn't realize it was that close to a complete fabrication. Even the terrorists in the War Against Some Terrorists are a largely a fiction.
The World in a Frame
The invention of photography in 1839 coincided with a great age of exploration and travel. The medium proved to be a suitable tool for colonial possession and control. For with it one could delimit the world, make it tangible, and return with it to the metropole. Here these visual surrogates could be preserved and classified, for the benefit of science or art.
Befitting their task of exploration, it is appropriate that all of the photographers represented here were migrants or immigrants. Although all were professionals, their motives were multiple and mixed. Some were sponsored by governmental surveys (O'Sullivan, Jackson, Hillers), while others were commercial (Curtis, Bonfils, Beato), and some were both at different points in their careers (Watkins, Monsen).
Taking photographs in the late 19th century was an extreme challenge. Until the development of flexible cellulose film in 1888, photographs were recorded on glass plates, using "wet-plates" that had to be exposed and developed while the chemicals were still wet (introduced in 1851), or the subsequent "dry-plate" process, which used prepared plates (1878). With the exception of Curtis and Monsen, these immense pictures are not enlargements, but were printed directly from the same size negative. Again, with the exception of the later Curtis and Monsen prints, these photos are albumen prints, made with eggwhites, yielding rich yellow and brown tones.
John K. Hillers
View, Zuni Pueblo
New Mexico; 1879
thanks to wood s lot
I never did get all my links up yesterday. Too many distractions. More distractions this morning but reader Yolanda Flanagan just sent me this and I must put it up. It's not long so here is the whole thing. It gets to the nub of what is going on around the world. Lord Acton's observation in 1887 is as true today as it was then: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
What If There Were Real Balances of Power?
Now, when it is beyond doubt that the Anglo-American (the English speaking world) 'war against terror' is leading to self-defeat, there is one simple strategic alternative that would make this planet a much safer place. The first lesson one learns when attending an introductory course in international affairs is that the balance of power and the power of deterrence are the most crucial ingredients for peace. The cold war showed this. America and USSR never engaged in a direct conflict. They simply had too much to lose.
If 'world peace' is our main concern, we must achieve a balance of power, we must let the oppressed people of this world have access to the most advanced weaponry. If the Palestinians, for example, were equipped with the latest anti air missiles, anti tank missiles, cluster bombes and cruise missiles, there would be no need for foreign intervention in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian militant would not have to carry out any martyrdom operations in the centre of Tel Aviv. Like the Mujahideen who crashed the Soviet army and the Vietcong who defeated the Americans, the Palestinians would punish the Israeli soldiers and concentrate solely on them. They would shoot down the Israeli combat airplanes and would destroy the Israeli tanks as soon as they entered the Gaza strip. Soon Israel would have to pursue every possible option to achieve peace with the Palestinian people while addressing the 'Palestinian right of return'.
Balance of power is the only key to peace. Islamic militants, when equipped with the right weaponry, would concentrate on Anglo-American military targets. They would never kill civilians or attack what the Americans call 'soft targets'. The Islamic struggle is about liberation not about bloodthirstiness. It isn't about a culture clash or about war against our values. Anyway, the only values we have are 'market values', basically the price of oil. We can't fool ourselves anymore. In the age of 'Guantanamo Bay ' and continuous killing of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians, we cannot claim to have 'values' to defend.
If Islamic militants could practically endanger our existence we would have to listen to them with great respect. We would then have to look for a genuine means towards reconciliation. I suggest that we allow the Iranians to be as nuclear as we are, we leave Syria alone, we must help the Palestinians become as armed as their Israeli enemy. We should be living in a world that embraces the notion of 'balance of power'. I assume that the key to peace therefore is to dismantle the hegemony of America, Britain and Israel. There are different ways to achieve such an aim. Supporting the strength of the European Union is an obvious one, opposing America and Israel is another. In all this, the impeachment of Mr Blair and Bush is necessary. We can not anymore expect those evils to have enough dignity to resign.
andante is a new type of classical music venture. Its aim is to document and preserve the world's recorded classical musical heritage and to become the definitive online resource for information about classical music and opera.
Since the demise of Emusic, I've had an extra $9.99 a month that I just didn't know what to do with. All my problems are over! Andante is the answer. This is an informational site about what is going on in the classical world with a music room is just chock full of gems. This is a streaming only subscription service much like Rhapsody. While Rhapsody has a lot of classical (more than Andante), Andante has some unique offerings. Andante has concerts that just aren't available elsewhere.
The first day I joined (last week) they were featuring a Glen Gould concert from 1959. Glen was 27 and it was four years later that he stopped performing in public. It's incredible. He opens with a Sweelinck piece (early Baroque), then a Schoenberg piece (early 20th century), a Mozart sonata, and finished up with Bach's Goldberg Variations. The Goldberg Variations! Absolutely pricless. Today's concert is Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time composed at Stalag VIII in 1940. This is new to me and is amazing. They even have a streaming video of this. It also has 24 minutes of the performers discussing the piece. I will be listening to this one again.
The reason I find this so exciting is that the concerts introduce me to music I've never heard. There is wonderfull stuff here. If you like classical music.
As I said, this site only allows streaming, but it is pretty good quality if you have broadband. As for burning — get a good wave editor.
iraq — vietnam on internet time
And so Eid Al Fittur has come and gone once again. This year was, of course, different from every year. It was more quiet and solemn than usual. The first day we spent at home, welcoming relatives and neighbors who came to say "Eid Mubarek", and have some tea and kilaycha.
On the second day, we went to visit a couple of family friends and a relative who are in mourning. It seems like so many people are in mourning this Eid. When you visit someone during the holidays who is in mourning, you can't say "Eid Mubarek" to them because it, in a way, is an insult to wish them joy during their difficult time. Instead, we say "Akhir il ahzan" which basically means, "May this be the last of your sorrows…" The person will often simply nod their head, fight back the tears and attempt to be civil. I hate making these visits because it really seems like a terrible intrusion.
One of our Eid visits was to a close friend of my mother who lives in Al-A'adhamiya. In April, she lost her husband, son and young daughter when a tank fired at their car as they were trying to evacuate their house. We went to visit her on the second day of Eid. I was dreading the visit because the last time I had seen her, she was only this fragment of a person. It was like she was only a whole person with her husband and kids and now she is only 1/4 of a whole. For the first month after their death, she couldn't eat, sleep or speak. When we saw her in May, she couldn't or wouldn't recognize us.
We went to see her at her sister's house in the same area. She doesn't live in her old house anymore- she can't stand how suddenly empty it is. She was speaking and moving around this time, but she isn't the same person- not even close to the same person. She speaks politely and tries to follow with the conversation but you can tell that her mind is somewhere else and it's a huge effort to stay focused on what is being said or done.
As we were leaving, I leaned down and hugged her, whispering "Akhir il ahzan…" and as I pulled away, she simply looked at me, shook her head and said, "Of course it'll be the last of my sorrows- there's nothing else to mourn because nothing else matters…"
Here is an excellent overview on the mess that Bush has us in.
There is a lot of jockeying for power and it appears that the it isn't Washington calling the shots — it's Sistani and the Shiites.
Back on Wednesday the Post had a piece about how Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was largely responsible for scuttling our original plan to appoint the drafters of the constitution, rather than have them elected.
Now he's come out against the new plan for electing these folks through a complex series of town caucuses and called instead for direct nationwide elections.
It's pretty hard to fault Sistani's positions on democratic procedural grounds. But the bigger point, again, is our impotence in the face of his expressed views.
He's calling the shots; we're not.
All of this adds up to the essential ridiculousness of the moment: On the homefront, the president is shaping his political campaign around the notion that we shouldn't show weakness and we can't cut and run. Meanwhile, it's clear to pretty much everyone in Iraq that we're doing both.
And they're acting accordingly.
Analysis: U.S. plan may be in flux
Meanwhile, US and coalition troops keep dying. Here is a chart showing the increased rate:
U.S. Military Deaths in the Conquest of Iraq
Here are pictures and sound of the reality Bush is trying to hide.
Doctors hold a patient's hand during an operation. Twenty four hours in the hospital's emergency room with soldiers stripped of their uniforms and gritty exteriors reveals the physical and emotional toll of war in Iraq.
And the rape of the Iraqi economy continues.
Privatisation won't make you popular
The war against Iraq began with simultaneous marches by the military and by Bechtel and Halliburton - the corporations coming as planners, consultants, contractors and public accountants all in one. From the outset, the US assumed that Iraq's public institutions were, at best, superfluous. There was little interest in rehabilitation and reform, let alone empowerment. Instead, key Iraqi establishments were subjected to the command of private US enterprises under cover of a war emergency.
The US corporations were granted protection by the military, while state institutions and public property were left to face the onslaught of a destructive mob. Not for the first time in the history of the Middle East, imperial interference both unleashed and benefited from chaos
The destruction of Iraq's public facilities and infrastructure, together with the induced paralysis of its public institutions, has been the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA) path to privatisation in Iraq. Although remaining controversial, privatisation in Britain usually follows a period of reform, commercialisation and institutional strengthening. Moreover, the UK's financial markets and private sector can sustain a gradual introduction of public stock. None of these conditions applies to Iraq, where privatisation is being imposed by bombing, looting, freezing of assets, random sacking of staff and exposure to unfair competition.
Remember the oil?
come back soon
I will be looking after my 4 year old grandson for the next couple of hours, which means that all I will be doing for the next couple of hours is looking after my 4 year old grandson. Come back in a couple of hours for more — much more.
writers who are also visual artists
Quietly, far from the public eye, Israeli soldiers continue killing Palestinians. Hardly a day goes by without casualties, some innocent civilians, and the stories of their violent deaths never reach the Israeli consciousness or awareness. If there is one consistent piece of data in the current intifada, it is the number of Palestinian
There were 30 in November, 57 in October, 33 in September. In May and June, the number of casualties reached 60 a month (all data supplied by B'Tselem). While Palestinian terror shocks us with its brutality, the daily killing of innocent Palestinians in far greater numbers is ignored - unless it is a case of an army operation as in Nusseirat refugee camp in October.
Here's a list of victims from the last month, taken from the margins of the daily newspaper chronicles: A 32-year-old motorcyclist shot to death in the chest after soldiers said he tried to escape a checkpoint near Iskar refugee camp; a 10-year-old boy from Sejaya in Gaza who was bird hunting with a slingshot near the separation fence around Gaza, killed by a tank shell fired at him; an eighth-grader from Barukin, near Jenin, who threw stones at soldiers, shot dead; a youth shot to death during "disturbances" after the funeral of his friend in Jenin; a taxi driver and father of six shot to death in Tul Karm by soldiers who thought he was trying to get away; a 15-year-old killed in Yata during some arrests; a nine-year-old killed by IDF fire in Rafah; and three Palestinians who were on their way to the holiday dinner last Wednesday in Gaza, killed by soldiers who claimed they thought the three were an armed cell.
A flawed plan, but it could pave the way for peace
A few hundred dignitaries will assemble today in Geneva for a peace ceremony between Israelis and Palestinians. A rare and delightful sight, no doubt, after three years of relentless and futile bloodshed. But is this also the turning point in the Middle East peace process?
This latest peace initiative, devised and pursued by a group of Israelis and Palestinians under the auspices of the Swiss government, could not present itself at a more opportune moment. It is the end of Ariel Sharon's third year in office and Israel's standing has taken a turn for the worse. Domestically, his election promises for "peace and security" were exposed as empty slogans, the economy is weak and unemployment has reached new heights. Abroad, Israel's pariah status is spreading. The question of whether its establishment was a mistake has become a popular theme in symposiums. Surveys in Europe show that Israel is perceived as a threat to world peace - the root of the problem.
Israel's worst achievement in the current conflict is the almost complete devastation of the Palestinian Authority. Yasser Arafat was sidelined and his security apparatus considerably weakened. With no credible, authoritative interlocutor in sight, Israel was left without a main point of contact. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Israel can direct its grievances to Damascus. The result: near anarchy in the Palestinian territories, where fragmented cells of terrorist groups call the shots and can easily wreck any delicate ceasefire agreement. Thus, both populations are trapped in a vicious, frustrating circle. The Palestinians are led by an inept regime and are living under a merciless Israeli occupation that, in turn, is corrupting and undermining its own core values and ethics.
Israeli academics are threatening to call for an international boycott of their own university heads if admission tests alleged to have curbed the number of Arab students are reintroduced.
The heads of the country's five universities last week announced that they would bring back controversial psychometric testing that favours middle-class Jewish students.
thanks to Conscientious
what if bush wins in 2004?
The invincible political-corporate-state apparatus (PCS) that George Bush II and his supporters have created will be opposed by a loose affiliation of hundred’s of local and urban communities-- supported by a handful of wealthy donors, actors and retired military personnel--who have refused to accept the destruction of the federal and state governments, the Iraq War and the draconian Patriot Act I and II, or, for that matter, the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency. But the deck is stacked against them.
Shortly upon taking office in 2004, Bush’s PCS will move rapidly on a number of fronts. Unbound by the constraints of campaigning, the real work of the Bush PCS will begin. First, the Bush PCS will continue to rupture federal and state programs that assist the middle and lower classes of America and their culture and environment. The US Supreme Court will eliminate a woman’s right to choose. Constitutional amendments banning gay rights, women’s rights and civil rights/affirmative action will be proposed by the Bush PCS and, in all likelihood, will succeed. An additional amendment to the constitution concerning military rule in case of an attack on US soil by any foreign individual or state will be added easing the way towards military rule in America.
While the nation debates these issues, Bush will quietly issue an edict supporting a return to the draft. The massive military campaign that is sure to follow will require millions of US military personnel that can only be had forcibly through conscription. As early as the Christian holiday of Christmas in December 2004, or more likely, the Christian Easter Holiday in April 2005 (celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ), the Bush PCS will attack. Syria will be attacked by American-British-Israeli coalition forces, primarily from its Western, Southern and Eastern flanks. There will be no prolonged bombing campaign in this operation. The air campaign will be concomitant with an amphibious assault on Syria’s Western shores, accompanied by a land invasion from the Southern and Eastern flanks. The forces of the American led coalition will crush the dilapidated Syrian military within 10 business days. The Palestinians will likely be granted a piece of the former Syria and will be relocated there by the US and Israel.
thanks to wood s lot
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
#1 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song's regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of "A Day in the Life," the thirteen tracks on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles' eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.
thanks to The J-Walk Weblog