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March 12, 2004
9/11 . . . 3/11

It was Spain's 9/11 and that's how the country is reacting to it. Coverage of the shocking disaster in Madrid goes on.

As does the discussion of the use of mass slaughter of innocents as a weapon.

Others wonder if the world has gone crazy.

Actually the only major news outlet I checked, domestic or international, that did not have the Madrid story front and center was Israel's Israel Insider which is discussing terrorism but on a different front.

Speaking of "multiple personality disorder" take a look at Multiple Corporate Personality Disorder The 10 Worst Corporations of 2003.

Or, more psychologically, bipolar disorder.

On the campaign trail, some of those cheering Bush have no idea what he's saying. Just how much of this Administration's support is really smoke and mirrors, we wonder?

Also, Walter Shapiro says not to waste too much energy on Bush's first round of campaign ads. It's going to get worse.

China says the USofA has a double standard when it comes to 'free' trade.

Gender from PinkDreamPoppies.

Mr. Cheney, meet Google from Jerome. Also a word on the value of keeping your eye on the prize.

Mother Jones says, "we told you so" about the kerfuffle over the Administration's "intelligence" on Iraq and the CIA's version of the story.

What happens to Democratic representatives who vote with Republicans? Heh. Heh.

What are the polls saying about Kerry versus Bush?

Ralph Luker posts poetry. It's not good poetry, but I admire his nerve in posting it anyhow

More naughtiness in Pentagon contracting. (Via Cursor.)

The Economic Policy Institute posts an economic snapshot that says, no surprise, the deficit is largely responsible for the decline in manufacturing jobs.

Here's a really interesting article on judicial activism and what it means to the "people's Constitution."

Read Ellis Henican on going for a ride.

Tony Shalhoub branches out.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)
March 11, 2004
Lookit this

No wonder the Bush Administration doesn't want to send Gitmo detainees back to their home countries. Not even our closest ally, the U.K. is willing to pretend we did it right.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

What do you do when you discover that a noticeable percentage of your referrals from are from a site with no discernable connection to and no discoverable link to your own site? Do you suspect there's some weird scam going on? Is there a way I can find out this site's IP address to block their hits? Do I want to block any referrals from a site, even if I strongly suspect that there's no valid reason an internet sex site would be referring people to me?

At least 173 dead and hundreds wounded in Spain.

Dishonesty in government again. What can science do when it gets in the way of political agendas?

This is sort of gross. I mean, I understand what they're doing, but blowing up dead bodies is sort of gross.

The USofA's youth-worshipping culture has frequently bothered me, even when I was young, and I do find myself wondering how much of that will go by the wayside as the population ages? Nowadays, people mourning for their 'lost youth' are thinking of the days when they were 32, not when they were 12.

And at this point, those who pay me are politely waiting to trouble me with a bit of work, so that's all I had time to learn of world events this morning.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:51 PM | Comments (4)
March 10, 2004
From Mercenaries To Oatmeal

Here we go again with the mercenaries. I've talked about these armies of mercenaries in the past, I know, but it continues to astonish me how wide-spread the use of them is becoming. And here's another good article on the same subject. (Courtesy of Cursor.)

Speaking of mercenaries, think about this.

Here in the USofA, those who oppose the Bush Administration are terrorists, even if they're as apparently nonpolitical as, say, for instance, a group of teachers.

In Zimbabwe, the "Minister of State for Information and Publicity, Professor Jonathan Moyo" calls them "mercenaries" and includes (some) journalists among the group. (In Nigeria, you get "vampire mercenaries" but that's a different subject altogether.)

On the other hand, in Korea, they seem to call foreign soccer players recruited to play for Korean teams, "mercenaries."

I can't decide if all of this is because of faulty translations or if the entire world's rhetoric, and not just ours, is getting this over the top?

In Iraq they refer to "terrorist mercenaries" leading us to believe that you can find soldiers-for-hire who are not only willing to fight (and die) for your money but are willing to pretend to support your cause while they do so.

India's Navhind Times similarly mentions mercenaries hired to commit terrorist acts.

This is an interesting concept. It allows a small cult (even, say, one member) with sufficient funds to give the impression that they're at the head of a large, organized, militant movement. I don't think that's out of the question. (For the record, some that I hesitate to characterize as "wingnuts," purely on grounds of being polite to strangers, disagree that this is what's happening in Iraq, but I have to warn you that the scornful, dismissive tone of the article clearly labels the writer, if not the site, for what they are.)

I don't actually remember where I was going with this when I started, but it was all interesting, so read it.

And for those interested in how the current political process in the USofA mirror tactics used in Nazi Germany, read this.

I don't entirely buy into it. The human psyche is the human psyche and the fact that certain propaganda (read: advertising) techniques work on most psyches might have been articulated by prominent Nazis of the time, but they hardly "invented" the practice. I tend to find Nazi Germany's very effective use of propaganda interesting more from the perspective of being an incredibly successful advertising campaign than a dire warning that every advertising campaign since, especially political ones, are an attempt to establish some similar dictatorship.

No, I'm not concerned we'll turn into Nazi Germany, not really. I'm concerned, as anyone who has been reading this blog for more than a week can probably testify, about 1984.

Not a reign of terror. A reign of stifling, conformist, mindless, blandness.

It's probably a Liberal thing. Seems to me we have a choice. The future can be black forest cake or it can be oatmeal. I warn you. If you stop paying attention, you're going to get oatmeal, because that's what's easiest to mass-produce, not to please us, but to not terminally piss off the maximum number of citizens.

(I'm stopping now because I fear there was something seriously wrong with that last sentence. Syntax is not my ally today.)

In other news...hmmm.

Also, people keep wondering if the Democrats can win in '04 without the South but I have yet to hear anyone explain that we don't want to leave the South out. Certainly people there have suffered as much as anyone else in the country from the disastrous Bush Administration policies.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:41 AM | Comments (8)
March 09, 2004

And, speaking of redefining sex and gender roles, I'm interested in this gender-loosening trend.

Women have been reinventing themselves for 30 years or more and it's about time men got to play.

But that that leads me to another thought.

A friend mentioned that, in a book she's reading, the author, on a tour of restaurants, made casual mention of needing to use the restroom at one point, saying that the atmosphere in the bathroom "was as tense as it always is" which leads me to wonder if men are, indeed, that freaked out by public restrooms?

The clear inference in the book was them-there men are terrified of the possibility, and they seem to think there's a good chance, that someone might look at them, or even do a little bad touching while they're in the bathroom.

I think I'm sad that we live in such a rabidly homophobic culture that the idea that someone could look at you and somehow taint you is, apparently, so widespread. And I do wonder where this paranoia came from.

Contrary to what some would have you believe, homosexuality hasn't really been the scourge of western civilization for thousands of years, you know. While tolerance has waxed and waned over the centuries, outright, organized persecution of homosexuals has rarely been the norm and certainly not to the extent we saw in USofA culture in the last century and, it seems, even today.

Homophobia has always puzzled me. I mean, I grew up in Kansas, hardly a bastion of liberality. I was raised by a father who was racist and homophobic, although he was rarely outspoken about those things. They were...those things were just the attitudes he was raised with, the assumptions he based his life on, like his faith. So my own more liberal beliefs are neither the result of an enlightened upbringing nor a reaction against a repressive upbringing.

Based on that, I find it difficult to understand why others aren't able to look themselves in the eye and get over what I see as an irrational fear.

So, I went looking for enlightenment.

I found correlations (not causative factors, as the page makes clear, but correlations) that show that homophobia is most often found in older, religious, conservative, uneducated men from rural areas. Nothing surprising there.

Oddly enough, a significant portion of these people still believe homosexuality is a freely made choice, so there seems to be a fair amount of ignorance at work. Nothing surprising there, either.

The same site also offered some interesting ideas about motivations for sexual prejudice. Motivations included adopting such attitudes as a way to gain acceptance from others (these people have the wrong heroes), to reaffirm that the prejudiced one is "right" and (by inference, "good"), and, yes, to lower their own unacknowledged, internal conflicts about sex and gender. (Homophobia linked with homosexual arousal.)

So far, although dressed up in psychological language, all I'm seeing is uneducated bigots doing what they've always done. Identifying and singling out a group they can mob together against to reinforce their own fragile egos. There's a page where they phrase it better:

Some people with low self-esteem appear to need to identify some minority that they can hate and feel superior to. Over the past 50 years, Afro-Americans, Communists and now gays and lesbians have fulfilled this role in sequence.

I don't think this "low self-esteem" problem is a recent development either. It's responsible for a lot of the herd behavior our species has demonstrated over the centuries. Men of little personal conviction (and women, although in western civilization their power has frequently been muted and indirect and at times they've been the target of such behavior themselves), "born followers", in search of a leader.

People really are sheep, aren't they?

There are some fascinating pages on the topic on-line, none of which 'taught' me more than I already knew about the topic, unfortunately.

What I believe, though none of these pages said so (I assume I'd find the information on other sites if I had more than 10 minutes to spend on this topic), is that it's all rooted in fear.

Fear of the "other" (isn't that Freud?) and fear of something different.

Fear of being on the outside of something. Not that I'm arguing that most homophobes want to be "in", but there's a kind of fear that comes up when you're forced to acknowledge there's a group that, for whatever reason, you're never going to be able to be 'part of.'

Maybe 'fear' isn't the right word? It's just that some people feel there are only two choices. Admit your own inadequacy (as defined by whatever quality the group possesses that you'll never posses) or work out a way that the group is inferior so that your own exclusion is proof of your superiority. Admitting personal inadequacy is hard.

What about a third way? Why can't we all just admit we're not alike and that there's no "good" or "bad" necessarily inherent in those differences? Nice idea, but it doesn't work for us, does it?

"Separate but equal" is an interesting phrase, but in reality it's just not practicable for our culture. We're as deeply rooted in a class system as any feudal kingdom (although handicapped by our refusal to admit it) and further, there seems to be something in our psyches that makes it incredibly difficult to accept that we're excluded from a group without attaching a value-assessment to that exclusion.

In the end, I don't have any astounding conclusions. Maybe that's because I didn't learn anything new.

Some people are afraid and that's just all there is to it.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:52 PM | Comments (8)
Primary Tuesday

Florida this time. And Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. I don't suppose any of us are going to be surprised by the results, but you never know.

For some gays, it looks like they'll be voting guns or marriage but they're not going to get both. It puzzles me why anyone would find owning a gun more important than getting married. Especially considering that, as I understand it, the current "gun control" bill is hardly an attempt to disarm the entire nation.

Who knows? Maybe with sex and gender roles being redefined all around us, they just assume their eventual 'equality' is assured and that they don't have to actually struggle for it?

They're mistaken, of course, but I don't dispute their right to choose which issues are most important to them.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)
March 08, 2004
Here and There

So, the Bush re-election committee says 9/11 is fair game for exploitation. Some days they just make me tired.

Gore is doing what he should have done in 2000. Speaking his mind.

Bill Cosby says our schools are a disgrace.

USofA accused of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. Of arresting civilians and holding them in a "legal black hole" without legal counsel or representation. Sounds familiar.

Zimbabwe seizes a USofA plane. Claims it was loaded with military equipment and mercenaries and that we're plotting a regime change for them.

China is considering making private property...private.

The Netherlands discovers that legalizing gay marriage brings on...no social upheaval at all. Not even Armageddon. Fancy that.

Rome notices that women have brains.

Greece just put the conservative New Democracy party in power.

Italy is facing it's past, and maybe hoping to rewrite a bit of it around WWII events.

Egypt doesn't want any part of the mess in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt thinks the USofA's plan to "remake" the Middle East is going to promote, not eliminate, violence.

The world, or at least a majority of the part polled, doesn't care for Bush.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)