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November 21, 2003
Look at this

Africa is blogging and some of them are English-language blogs.

Trogers writes about politics, from the Christian Right.

Henry writes sporadically from Liberia since he and his family are sometimes on the run. His blog hasn't been updated since October but I'll be checking it to see if he comes back on-line.

Richard writes about "South Africa: Freedom, Democracy, Capitalism".

James lives in London now, but grew up in South Africa.

Someone I think we're supposed to know as Rhino writes about Africa and, as nearly as I can tell, the U.K.

Farrel writes about politics.

Uganisha is my favorite so far.

Noah writes generally about Africa, current events, and politics.

Murray and Andrew write about South Africa and the U.K., the two places they know well.

There are others and of course each blog has its blogroll. Check them out.

Against the Grain is not, of course, a blog. It is, however, usually very interesting.

By now, I'm sure you all know that that infamous Patriot Act expansion is still underway. I have nothing to add to my previous bile on the topic.

I love stuff like this. While the USofA intelligence community mostly just annoys me, I find the U.K. community fascinating.

And that's kind of it for me, for now. I'm still musing over my thoughts in general on the Bush Administration and their invasion of Iraq and their domestic policies and, should time permit, I might come back and bore you with said thoughts.

Having been, most unusually for me, working yesterday, I haven't gotten around to finding a link to the actual text of Bush's speech in London, if one exists. What I've read about the speech makes me want to see it, so if anyone knows of such a link, please let me know in the comments or via e-mail. Thanks!

Posted by AnneZook at 09:07 AM | Comments (1)
November 20, 2003
Sorry about that

I meant to post today. Really I did. Not so much about the headlines, but about this Friedman column and some thoughts I've had recently about our invasion of Iraq and the war on terror.

Unfortunately, the people who (over)pay me had different ideas for how I should spend my work hours.

Maybe next time.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)
November 19, 2003
Other Headlines

The Scalping Party (It matters, okay? You'll just have to take my word for it that when you grow up, you'll understand that yesterday matters.)

Afghan Security Worries Envoy (Was I the only one who didn't know a new USofA ambassador was arriving there soon?)

Bush, For The Defense (Okay, so he's going to, "subtly invoke Europe's history of appeasement of dictators" to wing support, huh? If I ever saw a human being with a more desperate need of a few Dale Carnegie courses, I don't remember when.)

Bank director wants moonshine for tourists (All I got was free checking.)

Moscow in for hard talks in Washington on Wussia's joining WTO (There's little I can add to that.)

Iraq's Ammo Dumps Endless Blast for U.S. Engineers

NATO on Trial as Afghanistan Spins Out of Control

Beijing threatens war over Taiwan

U.S. defends deportation of Arar

Faux Pax Americana

Is It Possible to Combat Radical Islamism Without Combating Islam?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)
You know what I think?

We need to get rid of all the pollution in the air.

What I think is, we should have GIANT vacuum trucks that drive around (using eco-friendly fuels, of course) sucking up polluted air from cities. And corporations should be required to hook their exhaust systems to GIANT tanker trucks and pump all of their air pollution directly into them.

Then we should build a GIANT tube and stick in some unimportant spot in the world. We'd need to build it two or three layers thick, so we could drive trucks and trains full of pollution in and hook them up to machines that would pump their contents into the sealed, center chamber.

Then you could turn on GIANT turbines and WHOOSH, blow all the pollution up the tube into outer space.

It's not the dumbest pollution-control idea you'll read today, I promise you.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)
Happy Birthday
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

The fight goes on.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:25 AM | Comments (0)
A lot of stuff

A noble experiment. That was the U.N.'s "oil for food" program in Iraq.

Also from UNWire, here's an interesting story about a woman who leaked information about a USofA plan to spy on U.N. delegates (to gather "intelligence" that would, one presumes, help us convince them to follow us to war) and who has been brought up on charges for telling the world that the USofA and the UK were trying dirty tricks.

It's a strange world, this new "my country, right or wrong" world.

I mean, I guess I understand, but even if she goes to jail, I applaud her effort to draw a line between legitimate intelligence work and dirty work.

Take a look at Notebook_Africa. I hadn't read it before, but a blog from "on the ground" in Africa is interesting.

Tired, Terrified, and Trigger-Happy

Among the less publicized incentives propelling Iraq overseer Paul Bremer's urgent dash to Washington last week was the concern in various quarters of the administration that the U.S. expeditionary force in Iraq was in a dangerously unstable state. "We are one stressed-out reservist away from a massacre," remarked one senior official closely involved in the search for an exit strategy.

Forget questions of "policy" and "diplomacy" and remember that soldiers are human beings. What can we do for them? Aside from showing our support of those returning, I mean.

Hold onto your hats . . . this one will surprise you. (Not.) Those "trade agreements" you hear such tooting and whistling about from each successive presidential administration are good for . . . corporations. Not so much for the farmers they're advertised as aiding.

Those in the blogging world who are, like, twelve and thing anything that happened before the Clinton Presidency is dead-and-gone history, irrelevant to today, won't care, but I think the docking of a U.S. freighter at Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a fascinating moment. Previously, my memories of the city centered around those news reports of the last hours as we pulled out of that war. Makes an odd contrast.

The Bush family - Nazi-connection conspiracy-theorists will no doubt find something significant in the fact that the army's current "iron hammer" campaign in Iraq isn't the first "iron hammer" campaign in living (Really, you pre-teens. People living remember these things.) memory. Me, I'm a little embarrassed for Common Dreams that they stooped that low.

Cause and effect. You dam up the river and put people ignorant of the complexities of the ecology in charge of the dam, and tens of thousands of fish die. Voila

If Bush were as convincing as his supporters, he'd be about 500% more compelling than he is.

My personal opinion is that Hughes and others are just thrilled the speechwriters finally came up with some decent rhetoric. A year from now, they're still going to be pointing triumphantly to that one speech, ignoring the dozens of malaprop remarks and stumbling teleprompter performances before and since that one speech.

And when you think Busy, always think nuclear proliferation. That's what he's all about, after all, which means I do enjoy press releases like this one smacking him in the head for being such a warmongering idiot. (Okay, I probably added a little editorial spin to what the Arms Control Association was saying.)

And while you're at it, think radioactive waste because relaxing the rules around the stuff means you may get a dump for a neighbor some day.

Also, think, Administration that doesn't support the military that's dying for their policies.

And then (scrolling down through that last link), I follow the link to this story and find myself wanting to offer a kick in the pants to the LATimes for allowing themselves to be browbeaten by the government. It may seem trivial to some, but the language you use to describe a person, or an event, matters. It matters enormously. Deciding to refer to Iraqi citizens fighting against the invasion as "insurgents" (as though they're from elsewhere) instead of as "resistance fighters" which clearly identifies them as Iraqis makes it sound as though our invasion force coalition is fighting another invasion force.

And then there's the subjec tof security here in the USofA. When you think Bush, think of a man very, very concerned with the welfare of USofA citizens. 'Corporation' citizens, of course.

Also, add me to the list of people who don't want to hear about the message. Such rhetoric does, in fact, trivialize the political process.

Besides, I'm just sick of hearing it. Instead of telling us all about how they have wonderful "messages" why don't candidates and political parties actually talk about what they believe? Actually, you know, deliver those much-vaunted messages instead of confusing everyone by discussing them only in meta-terms.

"We need to get our message out," they shriek to reporters. "We want the people to hear our message!" As though, you know, the time they spend talking to a reporter about how they have a message wouldn't be better spent delivering it.

We get so sick of hearing about their "messages" without hearing any actual message that we quit listening. For some reason, that surprises them.

The truth is that they're afraid to take a firm stand on most issues because they fear alienating a handful of voters in some swing state or district. They lack the courage of their convictions. (And that's charitably assuming that most of the major politicians on the scene today actually have many firmly held convictions instead of just blowin' in the wind preferences that they're willing to alter in order to get elected.

Fraidy cats. That's the mob of Democratic candidates, most of whom seem to be afraid to stand up and say people ought to be able to get married, regardless off which gender they and their prospective spouse are.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)
November 18, 2003

So, Mr. Bush went to London. How nice for London.

And read this:

President Bush was opening a state visit Tuesday armed with the argument that history backs his view that military force is appropriate when Western values are threatened.

(I must have missed the point where History, in all its majesty, decided that "Western values" were henceforth going to reign supreme. Or maybe it's just that I've had the bad taste to read history from other than the USofA perspective in my life.)

Bush is trying to tap into the outpouring of empathy and support that the British displayed after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

That's a dry well, bubba. A concept you should be familiar with, since you've dug a fair number of them in your life.

I guess there are a few more veterans who might not be voting for Bush in '04, too.

And, this just in, the Republican Party has found satan and he's using the alias Soros these days. (Via Atrios.) You know how I feel about "fisking" but this one I just can't let pass....

His assault on Sterling caused the British Empire to shutter.

Okay...what is that all about? Did the Empire "shutter" as in closing all the windows and blocking the light? How, precisely, does one "shutter" an empire? Did they build giant bay windows facing the sea and then put up Venetian blinds?

Is this merely a typo, and did the Empire "shudder" in horror (one presumes) at Sterling's fate? Who is "Sterling" when he's at home? Presumably an inhabitant of said Empire or a very close friend.

I'm thinking it's sentences like that one that gave the Democratic Party it's reputation as the haven of intellectuals.

(11/19 Note: Via Josh I learned that they took the essay down but the author was so proud of his worlds that he put it up on his own site.)

People may disagree with me, but I don't like so-called "hate crimes" legislation. (You can't punish someone, or punish them extra-hard for what they were thinking or for their emotions when they commit a crime. What we need, in place of that, is a "justice system" that delivers justice...fairly and even-handedly regardless of the identity of the victim or the perpetrator.) On the other hand, I wonder if the article is right that today's fight for gay rights isn't really about gays or their rights?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)
Well, well, well

Massachusetts' Supreme Court has ruled that banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. However, I'd say ruling that a "ban" is unconstitutional isn't quite the same thing as ruling in favor of gay marriage. It isn't exactly a "green light", especially when you consider that the court (rightfully) stopped short of requiring that gay couples be immediately issued with marriage licenses. ("Rightly" because I think requiring the Legislature to "fix" the situation was the correct approach. I'm not a legal expert, though.) It's a step beyond the "right to register" that's been granted in some places, even though that was a significant 'win' for the people involved. I don't mind small steps...as long as we're making steady progress.

And everyone have a moment of silence at some point today, for Italy's loss.

(Have you noticed that the ban on pictures of soldiers killed doesn't apply to the Italians in this situation? It was almost a shock, to see a picture of a casket, that's how successful the Bush Administration has been in keeping the lapdog media off the topic. If it was me, I'd put a picture of a casket, even an empty one, draped with a flag on the front pager of my newspaper and then run a story about the Administration's futile attempt to pretend no one is actually dying.)

The pro-USofA propaganda machine that's gearing up in Iraq continues to come fire and mockery. Excellent.

And, since our previous policy of putting up billboards and issuing playing cards hasn't pacified the Iraqi population, we're turning to an official policy of assassination. And, you know, targeting civilians. Way to win those hearts and minds, guys. A few retaliatory raids like the one I heard about last night, the one where an 11 year-old boy was killed, and they're totally going to love us.

There's an interesting debate going on over whether or not Iraq's new government should be religious or not. I wish there was a way we could know what groups of ordinary citizens thought. (I know...the Sunni and Shi'a official positions are obvious, but what do the people really think?)

Anyone who was listening to NPR last week (Thursday afternoon, to be precise) wouldn't have been surprised to hear that we're turning over control of Iraq to an Iraqi government but not actually planning to pull out our troops at the same time. I was listening to an interview and I heard that we need to have an Iraq government ruling the people in "safety and security" and the only way to provide "safety and security" was with USofA troops.

Remember Afghanistan? The first stop on our road to global domination the war on terror? Things, it would appear, aren't going that well. Not if the U.N. is pulling out workers.

Is a "virtual health system" with links to everyone's health information everywhere a good idea, or just a sneaky approach to the infamous Total Information Awareness concept?

I guess we all need to take a break now and then (I wrote about cheesy movies yesterday, after all), but why is Brooks littering the pages of the NYTimes with a pointless discussion of women's magazines?

Let me point out that writing an essay for a national newspaper about your obnoxious stupidity doesn't somehow make those qualities admirable. I do approve, however, of her attempts to change. Even thought I don't drive California highways, I'd like to hope that a few Denver drivers might read her column and learn from it.

I won't know what I think about 'blog elitism' until I know if I'm one of the 'cool kids' or not, okay? (My personal history suggests that I'm not.) Seriously, I know there are those who check their stats obsessively and who care more about getting a lot of traffic than about what they actually saying but I don't think it's to the point of being a disease yet. There are still a lot of folks who are blogging to get the word out about the stories they care about, and to share their opinions of the same.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:24 AM | Comments (2)
November 17, 2003
Ain't we got fun?

I've had to do my first IP ban. Comment-spammers really annoy me.

Oh, and I haven't bothered to go look for a link, but I'm sure by now you've all heard and discussed the announcement that we'll have a functioning government up and running in Iraq by next June so that we can pull USofA troops out.

Just in time for the '04 elections. How convenient.

(Personally, I think they're making a mistake. Rove Bush should have targeted August or early September, instead. June leaves a lot of time for things to start falling apart over there and some negative political fallout from the same. On the other hand, maybe they're counting on the well-known disinclination of USofA voters to remember anything political that happened more than a week ago?)

And then . . . well . . . here's today's attaboy (courtesy of Avedon Carol) to Bush as he alienates pretty much his last, staunch ally.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:10 PM | Comments (3)
Never underestimate the power of cheese

Forget about politics. Let's talk about me.

Me, I like old movies. I like cheesy old movies best. You get the right kind of cheese factor in newer movies sometimes, but the best cheese was, IMO, produced before the 70s. there's a combination of naiveté in the acting and the special effects that just can't be beat.

I have no intention of "researching" all of these, so just live with whatever fuzziness surrounds my memory of dates, names, or plot points. I feel like blogging and this is what I feel like blogging about today.

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a great one. Heck, most of those movies made from Jules Verne novels were fabulous. (That's another love of mine. The "Golden Age" science fiction. But that's a different post.) This one is from the late 50s and lives on in my memory because it starred Pat Boone and there was that fabulous scene with everyone eating giant mushrooms. And also because the earth's "magnetic core" really existed and stole all of the travelers' metal belongings.

Creature from the Black Lagoon I know, I know, this one is a "classic" but I consider it classic cheese. I loved the swamp creature, which was arguably one of the least-frightening monsters ever created. The poor actor inside the suite clomped across the screen so slowly that the about-to-be-kidnapped heroine had to hold her pose of "frozen panic" for what became a ridiculously long interval. And I defy almost anyone to find a "classic" movie that, in the end, was so nearly completely devoid of actual, you know, movie. They went from opening scene to the climax of the movie with a determination to avoid the complexity of red herrings and subplots that I wish some of today's moviemakers could emulate.

Them! Okay, so the swamp creature isn't the least frightening monster ever conceived. 'Them" are mutant killer ants. You gotta love it, okay? I mean, I still think they should have tried poisoned sugar, but their solution was okay and I have a secret affection for things blowing up.

(Only in the movies, okay? NOT in real life. Do NOT report me to Homeland Security or put my name on a terrorist watch list or tell my mother I need therapy, okay? Lots of people like movies with explosions or they wouldn't make so many of them. Sheesh.)

(I just remembered - the world's least-frightening monster movie had to have been the one with the frogs. You know the one I mean. People living on some island in what looked like the bayou find themselves surrounded by frogs that . . . stare at them. I'm just saying. I don't indulge in recreational drugs, but if I did, I suspect this is exactly the sort of movie that would have been improved by the experience. Oh, no! Frogs! And they're . . . they're . . . they're looking at us!)

The People That Time Forgot Dinosaurs and explosions abound. And Doug McClure, who tends to stick in my memory as someone I frequently find in these movies. I mean, he's probably not in all of them, but some days it seems like he is. And that woman with all the cleavage. She or one of her sisters is in every one of these, occasionally as some kind of "native" but sometimes as a "civilized" woman who, for various reasons, tends to gradually approach nudity as the plot unfolds.

At The Earth's Core McClure again. There's this giant drill that these guys ride in to try and drill down to the . . . you guessed it . . . earth's core. It's all a bit Freudian today, but I'm sure it looked highly technological in the 50s. As I recall, they meet some flying people and overthrow their government, just proving that you really can't trust the British or the Americans to keep their fingers off of other people's cultures. (Ahem. sorry.) As I recall, a woman over-burdened with cleavage was significant to the plot. Big surprise.

Day of the Triffids Okay, it's not cheese. But it's old and I love it and it's my list and the time we get to the lighthouse, I'm usually rooting for the Triffids.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers What is it when it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but it's not a duck? Pod people! I love the pod people movie, but it has to be the original, not a remake.

I Married A Monster From Outer Space A woman is about to marry Her Dream Man but on the eve of their wedding, he's possessed by an alien spirit. Turns out the aliens are here to have sex with Earth Wimmen. Heh. It's amazing how many aliens travel the galaxy looking to get lucky, isn't it?

Reefer Madness Watch out, kids. One toke and you'll go insane! You'll listen to the Wrong. Kind. Of. Music. And everyone knows that leads to . . .murder.

Almost but not quite as good is The Cocaine Fiends which stays in my memory mostly because (If I'm remembering the right movie) there's a bar in there that just had to be the precursor of that alien-infested bar in Star Wars. Reefer Madness was better in every other way, though. I love those clean-cut 50s kids jazzing it up under the influence of the evil Reefer.

Flash Gordon Super powers and a lot of cool techno-gadgets! Actually, there was a series of these and an arch-villain who had to be defeated again and again. (And, strictly for the over-21 and broadminded, the softcore porn and even more hilarious Flesh Gordon, with his sidekick, Dr. Jerkoff who are on a continuing mission to fight the planet Porn! I first saw this one at a small SF convention twenty years or so ago and the audience was laughing so hard no one could hear a line of the dialogue . . . such as it was. I haven't seen this one since and have no idea if it would be as funny today.)

I'm embarrassed to have to admit that I've never seen Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or The Blob. I'll have to rent them.

Anyhow. A kind friend gave me an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday, and I think I'll use it to buy this. Except that once I read it, I'm sure to find myself searching out and buying every movie it mentions. I'm compulsive that way.

Also, I like documentaries about sharks. I watch the new ones the Discover Channel does each year. Last year they offered some visuals in 3D which was exceptionally cool and, yes, I went out and got the 3D glasses and sat there with them on my face while I watched, because sometimes I'm just geeky that way.

I'm just saying, okay? There's more to me than whining about politics. And now I'll bet you're wondering what I did Friday, on my day off. I ain't telling.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:08 AM | Comments (4)