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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

May 08, 2004
I knew it would come

I wonder what everyone will think of this?

I figured it would happen some day. People ordered not to reproduce. Brings up a lot of constitutional questions. Does their proven unfitness to care for children trump their constitutional rights?

What about other parents who have had children removed from their custody? I wonder if any of them have ever been ordered not to produce any more?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:14 AM | Comments (4)
May 07, 2004
Good grief.

First, I'm an idiot. Exporting my blog files from MT took about ten seconds. All I had to do was look...there was an import/export feature right in front of my nose.

Second, I'm a wordy idiot. 600,000 words in over 1,300 entries? Less than two years? No wonder my desk is such a mess.

For the record, I'm leaving selected older files. Ignore them. They're mostly stories I hope to get more details on some day. I've managed to get rid of about 600 but I got bored. I'll finish some other time.

Actually, the only reason I'm making this entry at all is to test whether or not I messed up the blog.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:03 PM | Comments (6)
Oh, stop it.

I am not blogging about "extreme penguin batting," okay? I'm not. Go visit Elayne She told me she blogged the penguin thing.

Also? I'm not offering "pictures of dead armadillos" no matter how often you come here in search of them. Okay. Not.

I know nothing of putting a "brassiere on a camel. " Camels almost never cross my mind. Not even in underwear Especially not in underwear.

I'm pretty sure I never said the "Alamo is overrated." It may be. I'm no expert.

I cannot provide "estimates for gay, male prostitutes" and that's the last time I'm mentioning, even in complaint, an irrelevant, sex-related hit this page gets because I just this second realized (idiot that I am) that blogging about what I’m not blogging about draws hits for things I'm not blogging about.)

(But I will say that coming to this blog in the hopes of seeing the naughty bits of survivalists is…okay, it's just weird. Get away from me.)

I don't know what could drive someone to search for "I don't want a bunny wunny" and I don't want to. (Anything I don't understand has to be strange. I don't like strangeness.)

I'm reasonably certain I've never written about a "pickle report." I don't doubt there is a pickle report, I'm just not privy to it.

Someone told Google they were, "unaccountably fond of cash." Well, me too.

Writing checks takes too long and I get tired of producing fifteen pieces of ID proving that I'm me and entitled to use my money to buy socks if I want socks. (Don't get me wrong. I always appreciate it if someone checks my ID. If I'm ever the victim of identity theft, I hope the thief runs into the kind of clerk that checks IDs.)

If there's a "pda cooties installation" it's news to me. Why install them?

It's okay if you "fancy a British passport" but I'm not authorized to issue one for you.

While I don't remember blogging about it, I did read a fascinating book about "Brunelleschi's dome" once. I might have mentioned it in passing. It's the sort of thing I'd do.

I've never posted any "xanga reviews." I would have assumed a "xanga" was some exotic beast but now I'm wondering if it's a movie or a book or something.

I mean, animals don't get reviews, right?

"We'll give the Zebra an 'A' for those fabulous stripes but the Lion gets a 'C' for that cliché of a mane. Get a new look, Leo."

I am very pleased by the upsurge in interest in "The Vanishing Voter" and "Democracy Reader" book reviews. You make me proud.

There will be a brief blogging hiatus while I decide if I want to go find out what "pathoplasticity" is.

But, wait! Look! I think this woman and I were SAB.

Having had occasion to view some of my early blog posts recently, I found myself cringing again and again. That's partly why I've decided that, although I'm far from exceeding my storage allowance, I'm going to start deleting the older stuff.

Hey, anything over 30 days isn't relevant in the world o'blog, right? The links are, I'd imagine, largely nonfunctional by now and it just too darned long to rebuild my blog when I make a template change.

I haven't been able to figure out a way to archive the older stuff (move it out of "published" status without completely deleting it) but I don't think that's really a problem. It's a bit hard to picture needing old blog entries for any reason, don't you think?

Also? I am not a maid, okay? If you made a mess in the office, clean it up. Don't bring me a vacuum cleaner with a hopeful look on your little face unless you want to find yourself salting and swallowing large parts of said appliance.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:18 PM | Comments (6)
Hmmm

His fingerprints were "found on materials related to the Madrid bombings, so USofA lawyer is in custody

Mother's Day, an anti-war rallying point.

What kind of insanity leads the Bush Administration to appoint people like this? Who would want that man on their re-election campaign?

The re-election campaign for Bush is being compared to the organization of a pyramid scheme.

You know. A pyramid scheme. One of those things that, more often than not, is illegal because everyone gets ripped off in the end. (At least they have a sense of humor.)

Seriously, I am concerned about the perception that the internet will be the Democrats' primary tool in the campaign. Yes…it propelled Dean to nationally noticed status, but part of that was the media's desire for a new and unusual story. When it came to the primaries, the votes weren't there.

The bottom line is that getting out and talking to people is vital to helping form their opinions.

Sudan. Know about Sudan? Darfur. Know about Darfur?

No, of course you don't. the USofA media has never figured out how to deal with Africa.

Well…just so you know, there are reports that people are being, essentially, penned up and starved to death. But it's okay, the president of the country promises it's not a genocide.

Please, feel free to go back to discussing Friends.

Unless you'd liked to contemplate how Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot or something. (Warning…Iraqi prisoner abuse photo.)

Or contemplate the Military-Mass Media Complex.

Or worry about what the heck else is going on in Iraq that our media isn't telling us.

That's about all I can take today.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)
May 06, 2004
Effluvia

The elevator in our building has abruptly ceased going beep, beep, beep as you pass each floor. I find this oddly disconcerting.

On the other hand, the radio in my car has not stopped going beep, beep, beep when I get out of the car without it. After five years, you'd think it would understand that I have no intention of detaching parts and carrying them with me to prevent theft, but it doesn't seem to learn. Beep. Beep. Beep. It's very annoying.

Via Hal, I found Straight and Crooked Thinking. Fascinating. I'll have to google around and see if I can still get the book.

I didn't finish reading the online bit, though. I haven't finished reading David Neiwert's latest post yet, either. They're bookmarked for this evening when I have time to think.

New Sharia laws in Nigeria's Zamfara state.

We may still have a long way to go in this country.

Rush Limbaugh is a disgusting human being.

Moving on, we find that The Progressive is having a birthday and Molly Ivins is dancing on the bar.

"Who is in charge? I mean, look, every single, solitary decision made almost since the fall of Saddam Hussein has been mistaken. Who's making these decisions?" --Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del), calling for a little accountability.

Via Mother Jones and in Salon.

Salam Pax is all official now and getting paid for writing, but that doesn't mean he's not still interesting. It does mean that he's not as…I don't know…as unguarded as he used to be.

Now the Feds are outsourcing criminal investigations. I wonder if this is a Bush-era trick or if they've been doing this for a

Here's an expert critique of outsourcing at the DoD.

We're number one, but that's not the same as saying we're perfect

Shorter Committee on Resources press release: Fish in the eco-system, fish in aquariums, fish in fish farms, what's the difference? We got fish.

Have you checked the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count recently?

For the first three months of this year, there were 52,013 sick with 603 deaths. The bad news? The number of cases is up this year. The good news? Fatalities are down.

I'd provide details, but you've probably already stopped reading.

If only we cared as much about health as we do about death. Just imagine what over $112,000,000,000 could do if you spent it on disease prevention and control, instead of on killing people.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:03 PM | Comments (2)
The Other Headlines

Death sentence for medics in Libyan HIV case

A Libyan court sentenced five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death today for deliberately infecting more than 400 children with HIV.
But if you read the article, there's a lot of doubt about whether or not this is an accurate verdict.

Cooperate or you don't eat. We're threatening to withhold humanitarian aid if enough Afghans don't turn informer.

A dirty little story, indeed. It's those mercenaries in Iraq, again.

There's a huge scandal in Britain with the revelation that the country's biggest arms firm had a £60 million pound slush fund they used for bribing Saudi Arabian officials.

Beatings, humiliation, rape…it must be the the USofA prison system. (Well, gosh, No wonder a "Virginia Corrections Officer" didn't know where the lines should be drawn.)

Who is David Hackett Souter? well, he seems to be that rare thing, s Supreme Court Justice who thinks the position is more important than the perks.

Religion in the USofA is next. To begin with, I doubt their polling data. As I've said repeatedly, I'm not prepared to believe in any poll unless I know what questions were asked, what population was polled, and how the responses were tabulated.

Reading on, I see I wasted my time trying to formulate my own problems with organized religion. I should have just waited for this article to be published.

With the passage of the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts and the end of the Vietnam War, it seemed as if the religious progressive movement faded. In its place, there arose another religiously-based movement that cared little for peace and social justice, but insisted on imposing its sexual mores and patriarchalism on the rest of society. Appealing to those made fearful by the rapid economic and social changes brought on by modernity, the Christian Right has threatened America's societal maturation and political stability through sensationalist appeals to bigotry and especially masculine insecurity.

Yep...that's what I think of today when I think of "organized religion."

The problem with that approach to morality and truth is the texts themselves. With respect to the Christian canon, which has been the subject of my practice and study, any close and honest reader of the Bible knows that it is full of bizarre claims and internal contradictions. It is, in short, exactly what it appears to be: a collection of writings of the faithful who wrote from the perspective of their time and place.

I totally said that.

Anyhow, it goes on to say that the Left should seek out and embrace "religious progressives." I don't have a problem with that. I'd seek out religiously progressive christians, muslims, buddhists, or wiccans with no problem, but they need to understand that none of them have any moral superiority over the others.

What I got from this was that it's as much or more the fault of "advertising" that the country feels it must choose, solidly and definitively, between "blue" or "red" but it's a temporary condition. I hope that's true…it means Republicans will be taking their party back from extremists.

David Broder is also discussing partisanship today.

I can't resist, I have to link to this scathing review of the Bush re-election effort in Ohio. Fake horses. Heh. Well, why not? He's already been a fake pilot and flaunted a fake turkey. Not to mention faking leadership. (As I understand it, the much-advertised "bus trip" he's on at the moment seems to include an astonishing amount of air travel. Bush sort of…visits the bus, for a couple of hours or so a day.)

Old bombs found at Harbor Tunnel in Maryland.

Authorities planned to open an investigation into whether the bombs were linked to the nation’s first criminal case involving environmental violations by the ship-scrapping industry, which involved a company that worked at the same site.

I'm thinking that discovering the company was burying bombs instead of disposing of them properly (however that would be) is going to help their case.

(Drat the man. I barely got my porn rant posted and there Hugo Schwyzer was, redefining the topic. But this is a post I can agree with.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:25 AM | Comments (5)
May 05, 2004
I respectfully disagree.*

It's beginning to look as though Dr. Schwyzer is going to turn out to be one of those people I enjoy reading, but frequently disagree with.

I haven't commented on the linked post at his site because sometimes I get tired of being the only commenter not walking the PC line in such discussions.

First, it's just wrong to say, "If porn didn't exist, this woman wouldn't have gotten sick." Upon what does one base such a sweeping assumption?

She could have had unprotected sex with a man she met in a bar and contracted HIV. She might have become a secretary and gotten run over by a bus on her lunch hour. She could have been working nights at a fast food restaurant and been killed in a hold-up. She could have developed some fast-moving cancer and been dead in three months.

Or she could have lived to a ripe, healthy old age, surrounded by children, grandchildren, friends, and a loving spouse.

Let's not make assumptions about unknowable, alternate timelines. This isn't science fiction, it's porn. (Not that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive.)

If she hadn't been filming that porn movie, she wouldn't have contracted that disease in that fashion on that day. That's as much as you can legitimately argue.

Moving on, the unspoken assumption (in the linked post) that it was natural for this young woman to choose making porn as what seemed to be the fastest or easiest route to wealth. This assumption is also a problem for me.

A lot of people on this planet are faced with life choices around work. Most of us would like to maximize our income as quickly as possible. Almost none of us choose to make porn.

If this young woman believed she had no other option, then maybe she was unprepared for life as an adult, but it's absurd to blame the porn industry for her choice. I've skimmed a handful of the articles and if it says anywhere that she was shanghaied or pressured or kidnapped and forced to make porn, I didn't see it.

It always comes back to personal responsibility.

You want to fix a problem, by all means deal with this society's unhealthy attitude toward sex.

Maybe the porn industry is growing so fast because we spend too much time being 'publicly' repressed about sex? How sick is it that by age 18 a child can easily have seen a thousand or more on-screen murders, but at the suggestion they might glimpse two people and some naked flesh, many of us go ballistic?

Why is gruesome death considered okay for teenage viewers but what's under everyone's underwear is considered too disgusting or too emotionally disturbing to be acknowledged publicly?

Someone's technicolor intestines spilling out onto a sidewalk or autopsy table? No problem.

A woman's nipple? Cover the children's eyes! File a lawsuit! Go into therapy! Pass a law! Fine someone!

(I'm not saying porn, or even naked adult bodies, are the best possible viewing for young children. I'm saying that treating the sight of bare flesh like an emotionally traumatic disaster has to do more damage than the inevitable discovery that we're all naked underneath our clothes.)

Or, if you want a problem to fix, why not deal with the increasingly stratified society that makes a joke of the old dream of "upward mobility" and is well on its way to creating a permanent underclass of labor to be manipulated as needed in order to sustain corporate profits?

If we could fix that, anyone choosing to make porn would, you could be certain, be doing it as a matter of free choice.

Sheesh. One of the things that drives me battiest about us is the way we're always fixing the symptoms instead of the problems.

(* Which isn't to say I'm not wrong. I could be wrong. I've been wrong frequently in the last week.

This time, based on the initial, enthusiastic applause in the comments section for the linked post, it's quite possible that I just haven't spent enough time contemplating how destructive the existence of male desire is to the young, female ego.)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:19 PM | Comments (7)
Odd, Interesting, or Disturbing

Frat Boy Ethics.

Who's the New Sheriff In Town.

Should We Overturn the 17th Amendment?

Pope's Spanish ambassador calls for recognition of gay couples.

I agree with Dusty Saunders. The to-do over the end of Friends is a bit much and Dateline not only crosses but obliterates the line between "news" and "entertainment" by putting on a special program just to rake in more share points around the episode.

Not satisfied with three hours of Friends programming on Thursday, NBC begins its over-the-top promotion at 7 by airing two half-hour Friends reruns.

Dateline takes over at 8 for a two-hour show with a goodly portion devoted to interviews with the Friends' cast and crew and profiles of the producers.

If I had been planning to watch the final episode, I'd most certainly have taped it and skipped the debris the network is throwing in to extend the suffering and rake in more share points.

Addressing Threats In A Connected World

For the record, I'm reconsidering attending the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash. Call me oversensitive, but the picture on this page seems to change, and when I first saw it, it was a woman bending over and lifting her skirt to let the viewer see her butt. The caption read something like, "Now, Doesn't This Look Like Fun?"

In fact, it did not look like fun and I'm thinking maybe the advertised Bash isn't really my kind of thing.

(It's a pity, because I visited the page following a link to The Nuance-headed League, and it was a well-written entry that I wanted to link to myself.)

UPDATE: In truth, and as I explained in the comments, the ad isn't very PC but it's not really earth-shatteringly offensive, either. I may have had a slight overreaction.

What's important to remember is that this is an event put together by some guys mostly for themselves and other guys who blog. With that assumption, it's probably natural their choice of ads will appeal to men.

I re-wrote that six times and it still doesn't sound right. I'm trying to say they can advertise their party any way they choose to. They're under no requirement to make it palatable to me or anyone else. It's their party.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:38 AM | Comments (3)
Lighten up

Joel Achenbach wrote It Looks Like A President, Only Smaller, a witty and informative book on Campaign 2000. He also used to write a political commentary column, Rough Draft, for the Washington Post.

Nowadays, he's writing for their Style section, where he takes on a variety of topics.

One recent column takes on camping. Or maybe it's pollution. Or maybe it's history. Or being a Manly Man. With Achenbach, it's not always easy to tell, but it's always easy to laugh.

From 1996, but still timely, Achenbach on bad information.

What comes after The Google? How about a search engine that thinks before it looks? Very interesting reading.

If you're nostalgic for the 70s, or just wonder what it was like, check out Super 70s online.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
May 04, 2004
Truth

I can't actually recommend that you read this post.

I'm just saying. Don't blame me if you decide it's stupid and pointless. This is a Personal Responsibility Zone and if you read something after I've said I don't recommend it, then any subsequent problems you have are your own to deal with.

Anyhow. On with the festivities.

I've been contemplating the vast divide between the horrible news coming out of Iraq and the Bush Administration's insistence on what fabulous progress is being made.

All ideas, all beliefs possess validity. Those ideas that you possess work as the filters through which you arrive at your interpretation of reality. Your ideas, even if they contradict mine, possess the same validity for you as mine do for me.

Not all beliefs, regardless of their validity in the world-view of one or more people, partake equally of truth.

That may sound like an unnecessarily arcane way of expressing a simple thought - some things are true and others are less so or not so - but the emphasis our society puts on political correctness of speech (and, by inference, of thought) tends to interfere with one's ability to express simple thoughts.

The fact that you possess a belief does not make that belief true. Validity, in this context, does not determine truth.

The extent to which your belief is untrue, and to which it interferes with your ability to co-exist with the rest of reality, is likely to produce in you a lesser or greater degree of mental instability. The scope or magnitude of the untrue belief is less important than the extent to which it interferes with your ability to interact with others.

You may believe that space is full of vacuum-loving aliens who want nothing more than to suck your brains out through your nostrils and play cricket with your empty skull, but as long as this belief contains within it the corollary (is that the right word?) that requires that the aliens can only exist in their native vacuum, this belief will not necessarily interfere with your ability to function in the world.

As long as you're not an astronaut, you're okay.

I'd suggest not discussing this particular belief with potential employers or on first dates, but it's your choice.

If you believe that solar rays are dangerous, even potentially fatal, to the unprotected human form, that's a belief that actually has a basis in fact (if you add qualifiers about time of year, length of exposure, etc.), but when your belief incorporates the idea that it's necessary to wear a hollowed-out rock on your head for protection, even though you live in Seattle where the sun is already filtered by masses of near-continuous clouds, then you've reached a point where this smaller untruth interferes with your ability to function normally in society.

Another problem appears with how your untrue beliefs intersect with reality, or truth in the eyes of others. If you talk about the brain-sucking aliens, people will laugh at you. If you believe in the dangerous solar rays, they'll lock you up.

From time to time, the rock will inevitably fall off your head and onto your foot, proving that your fixation makes you dangerous to yourself.

Occasionally it will fall onto the foot of a passer-by, proving that you're dangerous to others and laying you open to a massive lawsuit which you will be entirely unable to fight since you have no money.

No one wants to hire a rock-hatted lunatic.

The degree to which the untruths you believe are demonstrably untrue dictates society's reaction to them. The space alien fantasy is manifestly absurd, but not provably untrue. (The likelihood of aliens playing cricket with a soggy brain is slight, but maybe they've adjusted the rules to allow for the ball disintegrating.)

(I never claimed this was a serious post.)

On the other hand, the distorted perception of the danger of solar rays contradicts logic and science - it's demonstrably untrue. Your persistence in believing this untruth in the face of facts that illustrate your error leads others to believe you're capable of seeing the truth if they can only find the right path to lead you to it.

On the way home from one work evening, back when Dean lost the Democratic nomination, I heard radio commentators discussing Dean's "yell" at his speech in Iowa on Tuesday in terms of his Id. This over-reliance on Freud's theoretical framework for interpreting the unfathomable miasma of human emotional response is really starting to bore me, okay?

For the record, that last paragraph had nothing to do with the ones that went before it. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Anyhow. I've decided that the Bush Administration's stubborn determination to believe, in the face of evidence to the contrary, that they can win their "war on terror" using the tools they've selected is akin to believing in solar rays and now I'm wondering how soon they're going to realize that the rest of us are absolutely refusing to put rocks on our heads and play along?

I really shouldn't over-indulge in chocolate after having abstained for so long. I think I've proven to my own satisfaction that an excess of refined sugar really does kill brain cells.

In any case, I've been far too serious lately.

Tune in tomorrow when I'll be defending porn and making myself unpopular in Certain Academic Circles.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:27 PM | Comments (3)
It's still May 4.

Someone sent me this link culled from a series CNN is doing on issues and colleges in this election year.

In reference to protesting against the war in Iraq:

"I would never get involved. I don't think it's safe, for one thing. I care, but I guess I don't care enough. There's a way to express yourself without getting arrested," said Anderson.

Jessica Anderson attends Kent State and we hope that her way to express herself was writing to her representatives or protesting at the ballot box, but we can't be sure.

As the article points out, it took years of Vietnam before students (and others) began to mobilize and protest in large numbers. Maybe the point will come home to this generation when a draft notice is suddenly staring them in the eye in a couple of months. (Or do they still give deferments to college students?) We hope not, of course. No one could want to stay in Iraq long enough to create another Vietnamn disaster.

Tony Cox, the president of the College Republicans at Kent State, said some members got involved in protests individually.

"As time wore on, individuals saw the need to speak up and speak out," Cox said. "It's fine to criticize your leaders, but during a time of crisis you've got to realize that the decisions were made, and whether you like it or not, there's not much you can do about it."

Sean Buchanan, president of the College Democrats at Kent State, said anti-war protests succeeded in raising doubts about the war but said the inevitability of the war was depressing.

"We could have had every single student in this country walk out of class on campus, and it wouldn't have changed the policy," he said. "I think students feel that way. 'Why should I get up early in the morning, risk getting arrested, risk losing my financial aid, if no one cares anyhow?'"

I keep coming back to those two statements, one from each side of the political spectrum. The students believe that if millions of them had walked in protest "it wouldn't have changed the policy."

I think that says more about the Bush Administration, or at least how indifferent to public voter opinion the Bush Administration is than anything else.

I'm also dismayed that they equate a peaceful (one presumes) walk-out or protest march with an automatic arrest.

Chris Wido, a sophomore and Air Force veteran, said he does not have time to express his strong political views in organizations because of his work schedule. But he did take time from class Monday to participate in the "Smackdown Your Vote!" forum and rally in the Student Center plaza, during which he questioned funding for the war.

People in his age group, he said, "are too caught up with what's going on in their own personal lives. People would rather read about what Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are up to than [President] Bush."

I think we're seeing cause-and-effect here. If students believed their opinions mattered, if they believed their votes counted, they'd care. If they even believed that millions of them, acting in concert, could make a difference, maybe some of their apathy would disappear?

For some reason, these young adults don't see the connection between the ballot box and their worries about jobs, families, and futures.

Who do we blame for this?

Am I the only one who was required to attend "civics" classes at intervals during the K-12 years?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:25 PM | Comments (4)
May 4

George thinks the upcoming election is crucial to the country's future prosperity. Guess he's voting Democrat this year.

Methodists are marching to support ordaining homosexual clerics.

Driving an SUV can get you killed. It's more dangerous than almost any other passenger vehicle. Any questions?

The bodies of five government soldiers have been found in Afghanistan. It's suspected they were kidnapped and killed by the Taliban.

Not only a draft, but a targeted draft. I dislike the draft in and of itself but I really dislike the idea of the military reviewing the records of draft-age kids and picking out the ones they want. Conscription. Forced military service. The only thing that makes it palatable at all is if it applies equally to everyone. (Okay, no, it doesn't, rich kids have usually be able to get out of it if they want to.)

But…hey…the high-tech and computer skills the military has been wishing for can be found among the scions of the rich and powerful, can't they? So if the military really does go shopping with a wish-list of talent, that could produce some interesting results.

But please do make note that the suggestion to refine and reinstitute an active draft was presented before we landed in Iraq. It's almost like someone knew we were going to go to war, in spite of the rhetoric about not invading Iraq unless we were forced to. (It's also like someone knew we were going to be there for a long, hard slog.

I didn't know from a guy named "Tillman." I don't pay attention to football and felt no more for Tillman than any other soldier sent to Iraq. As it turns out, he was something rather special.

How nice. Hard on the heels of those stories about USofA soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners, we learn that recently escaped USofA hostage Thomas Hamill received regular food and medical care from his captors.

Has anyone checked the scorecard? Are we sure we're the good guys?

(I know, I said I wasn't going to write about the torture stories any more, but there's just so much about it everywhere, it's hard to escape seeing the coverage.)

Also, the neocon economic approach in Iraq is failing.

And, speaking of neocons and Iraq, it turns out that their tame figurehead Chalabi turns out to be have been a touch unreliable. A convicted felon with a history of treachery proving to be unreliable? What were the odds?

(Hey! What happened to Jeanne?)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)
First, they came for….

Neighborhood barbeques and adults gossiping on the patio with cold drinks while surrounded by a mob of shouting, running, laughing children. It was always summer and there was always someone turning the crank on the ice-cream maker. Except on those rare and wonderful occasions when someone decided it was a popcorn or pizza kind of evening.

Sunset started around 8:00 on the plains and it lingered for hours until children, exhausted from too much fun but still protesting, "it's not even dark yet!" were shooed off to bed.

There were Saturday afternoon bandstand concerts, "Art in the Park" weekend for the local amateur, and neighborhoods where everyone knew you, your family, and what time you were expected to be home for lunch.

We had a creek for getting muddy in. A stand of trees just deep enough to be labeled "the forest" by Robin Hood and his faithful, albeit occasionally mutinous, followers.

We had a meadow liberally sprinkled with butterflies, wildflowers, and in the very center, the shade tree so necessary on hot, August days. Sidewalks for chalking, streets for bicycles, wagons, and skateboards, and a corner store with an ice-cream fountain that served the best French fries and the most amazing cherry Cokes in the world.

Then we had Kent State.

The world came into sharp focus when I saw pictures of us, Americans, shooting us, Americans, here in America.

I didn't know that could happen.

I didn't understand how that could happen. No one I asked could explain how that could happen.

Maybe if it happened today, Kent State would barely register on brains coarsened by decades of television and movie violence interspersed with news reports of seemingly endless wars around the world, but back then, it was different. I could have sworn I felt the entire world change.

My understanding of life, the universe, and everything was altered because in one moment I understood that police (the only people I knew who wore uniforms) were shooting kids a lot like me.

And then the television was calling them "bums" or "scum" but I could see the kids on the television screen and they didn't look like bums. They just looked like kids, except they were screaming and running and falling down.

The thing is, as I reasoned out slowly and carefully in my unsophisticated 12 year-old mind, if no one could explain how or why that could happen, then no one could be sure it wouldn't happen again.

Any ordinary, sunny spring day...it could happen again.

When I got older, of course, I understood that the difference in age and maturity between those students and the National Guardsmen was minimal. They weren't "police" they were inexperienced kids panicking in a situation none of them knew how to handle, but that doesn't change the original emotional impact.

Maybe because of that experience, I've never been one of those who thinks that "rights" are something that, once granted, are a permanent gift. I think they have to be guarded. People with guns can be the ones that protect you, but they can also be a danger.

You can't erase all of those barbeques and bowls of home-made ice cream and Saturday afternoons in the park that easily. I still have a belief in the fundamental goodness of human nature. In spite of everything.

But I also remember Kent State.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
May 03, 2004
Aggravation

John McKay, fearing that the Left is suffering from Outrage Overload, goes checking to see how our "old friend former judge Roy Moore and his crusade to relegalize God in America" is doing. (Does Moore have no friends or family members willing to employ a little Tough Love and get him to a therapist?)

News flash! Exercise club owners anti-abortion! Yep, that's the story. I may not agree with the Heavins' personal politics but I don't think it's right to object just because someone runs a business catering to women uses some of their personal profit to finance causes they believe in.

It's these people's right to fund clinics that don't offer abortion. They're not bombing abortion clinics or killing doctors that provide abortions. Just funding clinics that don't. Their clinics provide services for pregnant women who are not seeking abortions. (If there's anything more to it than that, I didn't see it in the article.)

I say…the women who don't approve of the Heavins' politics can keep their money in their pockets and walk out the door, either from the clinics or from the exercise clubs. It's called pro-choice.

You might disagree with me but prohibiting people from openly giving money to support causes they care about isn't high on my list of priorities.

Also? Typically Python humor. You know the stuff. Laughing because the only alternative is to cry.

On the personal side, I spent a couple of hours this weekend and I have an estimated 4 more hours of work in front of me, "closing" comments on all of my blog entries more than about 30 days old.

I regret doing this. Some of the most interesting comments I get are on older entries but the bottom line is that I'm sick of deleting comment spam from pornographers and people making spurious offers to enlarge men's body parts.

Beyond that, you have no idea how deeply I regret the sheer quantity of posts I've made in the last year or two. Closing comments on each of them individually is the boring me to tears.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)
More On Torture

PinkDreamPoppies defends a woman's right to be as mean, nasty, and degrading as a man, while making it clear that defending anyone's right to torture another human being is not what's under discussion.

And Henry refers us to a Washington Post article from 12/2002, talking about "softening up" prisoners.

Read Christopher Albritton on Abu Ghraib and then follow the links to read the entire Hersh article. (No pictures, but the very squeamish should know that the article contains descriptions of what appear in some of the photos.)

And then there's the Iraq Prison Diary.

And this.

And this.

With that, I'm done with the torture story unless something really significant is released about it. It isn't that the story isn't important, because it is. There are many people covering it, so I know we'll all be able to keep up with what's happening.

It's that I get nightmares, you see. There are no words for how these stories make me feel and it's a struggle for me to write about them…even just so briefly as to offer a handful of links.

Iraq is a mess. From a public relations point of view, it was already bad and the torture story is going to make it a disaster

The military situation seems to have developed to the point where we're gladly accepting the help of an Iraqi general (I heard on NPR that the man is popular in Hussein stronghold Falluja but not elsewhere because of his history with the Republican Guard.) to bail us out in at least one city.

The neocons' choice of Chalabi is under even more scrutiny with the revelation that he may be two-timing the USofA with Iran.

Restoration of oil production, that silver bullet to give Iraq the money it needs to survive seems to be misfiring due to unreported (in the USofA media) attacks.

I've never been in favor of leaving the job undone, but I'm wondering if, with all of the attendant security perils, the Iraqis, if left to themselves, might not make a better job of nation-building than we're doing.

Is it time to admit defeat?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)
On A Monday

Jobs are disappearing. Winn-Dixie, the big, southern grocery chain, is cutting 10,000 in the next 12 months.

Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. plans to close its Louisville distribution center and sell or close its stores in the Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Paducah markets in the next 12 months, according to a release from the company.

That's bad enough, but take a look at this:

Winn-Dixie reported the plans in its third-quarter financial statement, released April 30, which showed the company's net income for the quarter was down 99 percent from the previous year.

Ouch.

Way down south, things may be heating up. "Mexico has recalled its ambassador to Cuba following a blistering May Day speech by President Fidel Castro."

It's possible we'll take our "war on terror[ism]" down there. Because what Latin America really needs is police and military forces running around, ferreting out "enemies of the state."

Turkish security forces say they've uncovered, and stopped, a plot to bomb June's NATO summit. Reportedly, a Bush assassination attempt was in the works.

We could be losing our objectivity. By "we" I mean the Left, because things like this hit me kind of the way all of those foaming-at-the-mouth attacks on Clinton used to sound. At least, I sure as heck hope Greg was just having a bitter day.

Take this, for example:

Harvard law professor Christopher Edley Jr., a member of the Commission on Civil Rights, didn't like the smell of all those spoiled ballots. He dug into the pile of tossed ballots and, deep in the commission's official findings, reported this: 14.4 percent of black votes--one in seven--were "invalidated," i.e., never counted. By contrast, only 1.6 percent of nonblack voters' ballots were spoiled.

Someone tell me how they knew which ballot went with which voter? What happened to the anonymous vote? How can you look at a ballot and know the race of the person who cast the vote?

(All of that aside, we really need to do something about voting and vote counting. We need a less spoiler-inducing ballot form. And I do not mean today's electronic voting options.)

I wouldn't like to think that the sinkhole of overt racism is still lurking beneath the surface of this country's equality.

The idea that police can be too white to fight terror bothers me. Maybe in South Africa, with a recent, bloody history of persecuting minorities, but in the U.K.?

A searchable database of "lies" is launched.

Massachusetts reveals that its been working hard to bring back the death penalty. Notice how we think we can create a 'fool-proof' system for killing someone but not one for educating a child? Priorities, people.

Zimbabwe has a surprise for us. They've decided to extradite those mercenaries they arrested.

I find myself wondering at just what point leadership failure in the armed services opens an officer up to a prison sentence. Having soldiers under your command torturing prisoners doesn't appear to trigger the process. Kind of makes you wonder if there's not something to the idea that it was the intelligence services encouraging the behavior, doesn't it?

And what about this report that some of the torture…excuse me "work" in the prisons might have been outsourced to contractors?

In an attempt to fill the gap between the demand for professional forces and the limited number deployed, an array of traditional military and intelligence roles have been outsourced in Iraq, all without public discussion or debate. There are up to 20,000 private contractors operating in Iraq, carrying out military roles from logistics and local army training to guarding installations and convoys.

Some readers will be familiar with the resultant stories of Halliburton's overbilling scandals and the deaths of British and American private military personnel in battles in Falluja, Najaf and Kut. The industry has been deployed to such an extent that a number of executives have called it the "Iraqi gold mine".

Among the most stunning decisions taken is the handover of the interrogation of prisoners of war to private firms. Employees from the firms Caci and Titan now reportedly fill such roles as interrogators and translators. The work can be quite lucrative.

Torture is a profitable industry? Color me nauseated.

At the same time, one finds oneself wondering about the other detention facilities we're using, but not talking about.

Sudan. Oil. Genocide. How are these connected?

Virtual slavery in the USofA.

And look here. That U.N. "oil for food" scandal is getting complicated. Now someone is "suing the financial sponsors of 9/11" and it's all tied up with the "oil for food" scandal.

Craig Aaron disses David Brooks.

Dominic Dunne deserves what he's getting for his malicious rumor-mongering around the disappearance of Gary Condit intern Chandra Levy.

Nothing can be done about gerrymandering voting districts because, strictly speaking, it isn't against the law. So…now we change the law, right?

Sheesh, that's enough for one day...or at least one entry. I talk too much.

Not long ago, John Kerry defended that infamous (Republicans wish) medal-throwing incident on Good Morning America. Today I've discovered a spoof of the interview and I thought we'd end with a smile.

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