Saturday, November 27, 2004
This is pretty funny. I'm glad there's funny stuff around. Ahh, funny.
Ukraine's parliament affirmed the opposition cadidate's claim that recent elections there giving the vote to Russia's favorite man were fraught with, um, irregularities, and ought to be thrown out. This as the Supreme Court is set to rule on the election. Again, we should take their advice here in America.
Ukraine's opposition has staged massive round the clock rallies for the six days since the vote and demonstrations in support of Yanukovich [who was controversially deemed the winner] have picked up in the past couple of days, fanning fears that this nation of 48 million people could break apart.Ahh, regional secession. Hmm. But that sort of thing is only for backwards countries where they can't even hold fair elections.
In the largest pro-Yanukovich rally to date, some 100,000 people massed in the eastern city of Donetsk, authorities warned that they would seek more autonomy if Yushchenko becomes president.
"If someone tries to ignore our opinion then we will lawfully turn to the option of a referendum to change the (regional) constitution and make our region self-sufficient," Anatoly Bliznyuk, the governor of the Donetsk region, told the cheering crowd and a veritable sea of Ukrainian flags.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Big Brother works in mysterious ways.
The Bush administration opposed security measures for new microchip-equipped passports that privacy advocates contended were needed to prevent identity theft, government snooping or a terror attack, according to State Department documents released Friday.
All new U.S. passports issued by the end of 2005 are expected to have a chip containing the owner's name, birth date, issuing office and a "biometric" identifier — a photo of the owner's face.
The ACLU warns that the chips ultimately might contain far more data and be embedded in drivers' licenses.
Last month, the Government Printing Office awarded contracts to four companies to develop chip packages that could be incorporated in passports. One or more companies will win a contract for the passports by year's end, and the U.S. government will begin issuing them to officials and diplomats starting early next year.
Its too bad that BushCo's cynicism has destroyed any and all trust I have in the government. So when the spokesman says the US wants to potect Americans' privacy I think, Okay, they want to destroy all our privacy, and now they're admitting it. Up is down.
Ukraine is stong! The other night, playing RISK, it was my one holdout, my most highly armed station, blocking any hope of military onslaught from the East. I held Europe under one banner for a remarkably long time. That is until the African leaders amassed an army as had never been seen before. Well, it didn't end happily for Ukraine.
But Ukraine is still strong. Their people, who seem to actually care about freedom and open elections, are still in the streets, blocking buildings and making their voices heard. This despite the Soviet-backed candidate's decision to bring in thugs from the east of the country.
Prime minister Viktor Yanukovich told coal miners brought to the capital, Kiev, by train from his powerbase in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine: "I believe in our strength, I believe in the law, I believe in the constitution."One Ukrainian blogger says he welcomes his brothers from the east. Why fear them, he asks. He also has this to say, in his halting English, which speaks eloquently to their desire to have justice served.
The miners were an oasis of support for Mr Yanukovich amongst the tens of thousands of opposition supporters calling for the installation of Western-leaning politician Viktor Yushchenko.
Today, the protests intensified as demonstrators linked arms to prevent Mr Yanukovich and his staff from entering the cabinet building where he carries out his duties as prime minister. "The prime minister could not get into his office in the government building and so could not hold his planned meetings," a government official said.
At the time we had walking over the streets this evening the negotiation have taken it place. Actually they just discuss the point that the results of last (second) vote must be re-estimated with parlament decision and supreme court in the nearest 1-2 days. Also the current president and Yanukovich promised to do not use forces against the protesting people. Nothing more serious. We are afraid that government is just dragging out. We stay at streets till we will win.
Here's a good consortium of Ukraine blogs, linked to through The Guardian. It's funny how freedom is fought for in the most unlikely places.
Sigh. You think they can't get any more low or arrogant, and then they just do. They just do.
The United States will not attend a major review conference next week about a 1997 international treaty on land mines because of the cost of participation and disagreement with crucial elements of the pact.Disgusting. $100,000. $250,000. Who cares. It dwarfs in comparison to the cost of the Iraq Invasion by an unspeakably small factor. And this small expenditure could have actually gone a distance toward bridging the gap with the rest of the world. But they don't want to spend taxpayers' money to attend a conference at which people might say things the US doesn't like to hear. Ignorance is bliss. Russia and China have also neglected to ratify the Landmine treaty. Disgusting.
Sending even an observer delegation to the conference would have required the United States to pick up 20 percent of the cost, consistent with a United Nations formula, [a spokesperson] told a small group of reporters. Another official, asking not to be identified, said the cost of U.S. participation would not have been known until after the conference was over.
Conference organizers estimated the U.S. cost at somewhat more than $100,000, a figure deemed unrealistically low by the State Department, the official said.
Last February, President Bush backed away from a Clinton-era policy of giving up all anti-personnel mines by 2006, assuming the Pentagon could develop an alternative by that time. The new policy allows indefinite use of mines with deactivation features on the assumption they pose little threat to civilians
PAt Buchanan is giving a speech this month on why the Republican Party is going in the wrong direction. I must say that Buchanan, no matter whether I agree with them or not, is a man of his principles. I've heard him speak more plain sense about the Iraq war and US foreign policy than most Democrats are willing to. Scary though some of his beliefs may be, he is of the actual, reality-based school of conservatives: the ones who believe in small government, fiscal restraint and aversion to stupid, nonsensical and unnecesary wars. You know, the exact opposite of what the BushCo "conservatives" are ramming down the world's throat.
He wrote Big Bad Love (among others) which truly is a fine collection of short stories, and one of my favorites. He was a normal type guy who decided to become a good writer, and then he did. Now he's dead.
Larry Brown, a fire fighter who rose to literary fame for his graphic, raw fiction about the rural South, died at his home in Tula this morning. He was 53. Friends and family members gathered around his wife, Mary Annie Brown, at the family's home this morning as the shock of his death sunk in. Meanwhile, the painful news was spreading to friends across the country.
"I'm just paralyzed like most people when they lose a loved one they admire," Oxford writer Barry Hannah said this morning from San Marcos, Texas, where he is teaching for the year. Hannah said he had watched his friend's growing success with pride, from the time his work first began appearing in magazines and journals in the mid-1980s to his most recent novel, "The Rabbit Factory," published in 2003. "Everywhere I go, I brag about Larry Brown and what hard work and discipline brought to him as an artist," Hannah said. "It's close and deep and very sorrowful. But he is a marvelous inspiration to those who need toughness."
One of his stories is narrated by a husband who's wife is painfully dedicated to being a writer. But she is terrible. Awful. And they drift apart. But after time, after so much time and so much rejection, she actually starts to get good. And then she gets published. And then she's a writer. Which pretty much sums it up. All of it, I mean.
I came across a web site for vampires today. Within, they've laid out some very simple rules for their kind. They live by a higher code of honor, apparently, than do the Republicans. A couple that prove my point:
We cannot and should not deny the darkness within. Yet we should not allow it to control us. If our beast or shadow or darkside is given too much sway, it clouds our judgment, making us a danger even to those we love. Never indulge in pointless violence. Never bring willful harm to those who sustain you. Never feed only for the sake of feeding, and never give over to mindless bloodlust.
We are not monsters: we are capable of rational thought and self-control. Celebrate the darkness and let it empower you, but never let it enslave your will.
Live your life as an example to others in the community. We are privileged to be what we are, but power should be accompanied by responsibility and dignity. Explore and make use of your vampire nature, but keep it in balance with material demands. Remember: we may be vampires, but we are still a part of this world. We must live lives like everyone else here, holding jobs, keeping homes, and getting along with our neighbors.
Being what we are is not an excuse to not participate in this reality. Rather, it is an obligation to make it a better place for us to be.
I was thinking last night, watching Harry Potter, that I'd love to have a code of honor. I thought it might be nice to travel to Japan and learn under a Kenpo master, totally submitting myself, not smoking, not thinking, not talking on the phone or answering emails. At the end I would come out different; clearly different. I thought how few rites of passage we have any more. They exist in an often ambigious and pop cultural way, but rarely are they shared and clearly defined by the community. Joseph Campbell lamented this fact. When does a boy become a man? When did I become a man? I'm probably not. I haven't put childish things aside just yet. And though I think I have, much of my psychology is still driven by adolescent (at best) emotions and explanations. Thinking on this, I imagaine that a large number of Americans are under the same weird constrictions. When do we become adults, and what does that mean? George W. Bush, for instance, does not comport himself like a man. He is a child, plain and simple, spoilt and rude and arrogant. Whereas I am in my underwear at 2:30 pm, he is reshaping the world.
All I'm saying is, at least these vampire folks got some kind of code. They believe they're living up to a higher calling, that they are special and because of that, hold a certain responsibility. Even if you have to create a world like this for yourself to live nobly in, is it not better than aimless discontent and disconnectedness?
See, BushCo are vampires, but they don't have the sense or strength to admit it to themselves.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
A Happy Thanksgiving to all. It is nice, once a year, to actually think about my personal blessings. I have not yet done so, but intend to as soon as I've drunk enough cheap red wine. Then there will be plenty to rue, as well.
So let me show you this list my friend Perry compiled of what his friends and family are thankful for on this snarky occasion. (A great word, snarky is.) Mach 3 razors is my most notable contribution.
I am thankful for...
-baloons that blow up into funny shapes and all
-that hot chick on Desperate Housewives
-the hot chicks on The O.C.
-getting two days off of work for T-Giving holidays
-that Kings of Convenience video with the little
-the end of Friends, Mariah Carey, and Ashton Kusher
-drunken late-night make-out sessions at dance clubs
-bagels and lox
-the new Gwen Stefani single
-pizza- anytime, but especially in the middle of the
night on my way home.
-all the dogs in new york city
-Hudson River Park
-being able to watch the same movies over and over and
having them get better and better
-baked macaroni and cheese
-the push-up bra
-easily spreadable butter products (i.e. Country
-fat women who don’t care that they’re fat and really
know how to have fun
-the live version of Elvis Costello’s “Motel Matches”
from “Goodbye Cruel World”
-getting letters in the mail
-ice cold cans of Natural Light
-having my own bathroom
-a really fucking good cheeseburger
-$3 shots at Blue & Gold
-the lovely Hispanic women who do my laundry for me
-really, really gay men
-potatoes au gratin
-dads with moustaches
-taking egregiously long hot showers
-women who tan
-my bookcase which makes me look really smart
-my job (seriously)
-when women wear blouses and they move a certain way
that the fabric between buttons -collapses and you
catch a glimpse of their boobies
-creamed chipped beef
-growing a beard
-Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Guinness, Newcastle
-throwing the old pigskin around
-King Charles II
-my family and friends and blah blah blah
-Adriana Lima (good lord)
-Luden’s Wild Cherry cough drops
-Glenn Tilbrook’s live performances
-being hungover on a Saturday in the fall when it’s
47º and rainy and staying in bed in the -cold sheets,
blankets and pillows until 3pm
-my beard/pubes/chest hair/back hair trimmer
-when women wear skirts
-old people who curse a lot
-fat black women who can really fucking sing
-getting high and listening to Beulah’s “Hello
Resolven” fifty times in a row
-watching people beat the shit out of each other
-Limewire and the entire Gnutella network
-you all passing on this site/linking me on your sites
so that I’ve obtained a modicum of “fame”, which in
turn has gone straight to my head and when my
roommates ask me to -do the dishes or clean up causes
me to yell, “Do you know who the fuck I am?”
-middle of the night and morning after sex
-the hot, trashy Jersey girls in my office
-Fox News, for when I’m down
-drinking the kool-aid
-college girls coming home for T-Giving holidays and
getting rip-roaring drunk out on the town
-Davis and Jd stories
-Those two Cranberries songs that are so good and so
-people who go to psychics
-used book stores
-Tommy Dewey and The Mountain
-"According to Jim"
-Saddam’s in a prison cell and Scott Peterson’s guilty
-coolers of beer
-brodie croyle (one day, i hope)
-tom dashle's defeat (does that one make the cut?) –
-the fact that Walker looks so much like George W Bush
-the words "fuckface", "rat-bastard" and "numbnuts"
-the nba exposed for the thugs that they are
-Milo's/The Corner Bistro/JG Melon’s/Criftdogs/ In N
-boobs (overwhelmingly, this was the #1 response)
-a car that starts
-rising to the occasion
-blood orange sorbet
-catching the subway at the last second
-Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, Morrissey
-that my boyfriend's ex is psychotic, making me look
-for the straws in drinks that help regulate my intake
-that I still get carded
-that I'm a lightweight
-Sunday afternoon drinks and reading the paper at the
-gael garcia bernal (and his breakup with natalie
-the genius bar
-The Gawker Empire
-The Tara Reid boob photo
-Boob photos in general
-Boobs in general
-"The Best of Will Ferrell Volume 2" on DVD
-"The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog" on DVD
-"Transformers: The Movie" on DVD, with the special
bonus interview with the guy who wrote "(You Got) The
-Brian L. for informing me of the "Transformers: The
Movie" DVD interview with that guy.
-Mach 3 razors
-Arrested Development/The Office/Curb Your Enthusiasm
-Barack Obama, not for what he has done but because he
allows me to feel hope for my party and gives me a
feeling that better times are ahead
-The New Yorker for providing me with the only moments
of non-legal reading I have right now, and making it
-my brother, who grew up to be awesome, when before he
was only OK
-People who wear hats, especially old men like my Dad
-Lexis/Nexis’s Understanding Criminal Law
-the election is over
-backrubs at the end of long days carrying lots of
books in my ridiculous backpack
-the nice guy on the train, who helped pry me out when
the doors caught me yesterday
-having a day of the year where I can eat as much food
as much food as I want, drink as much coffee and
alcohol as I want, smoke as many cigarettes as I want,
and hangout with my friends and/or family, no matter
how much they make me want to rip out my eyes…
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Beyond the reach of any politics or any language. Sheesh. These are two of those things.
His name is Alain Attar and I found him through this blog (which I found through Nick). I spent a while looking through his work (God bless the InterWeb) and find it all amazing. It's calm but bristling. The colors look edible. You want to touch them and interact with them. There's a blurriness that is yet somehow very clear.
I wish I could paint. But then I'd only copy this guy.
John Kerry -- the guy who said something about tabulating all the votes, or whatever -- should be paying attention to the beat down in Ukraine.
Tens of thousands of opposition supporters surrounded Ukraine's presidential offices after their pro-Western leader declared himself president, defying the government after a weekend election they believe was rigged in favour of the Russia-backed candidate.How about that? What would the media think if Kerry appealed to the nation's civil servants, the true stewards of our republic, the Johns and Janes of service, the everyman, to stand behind him? Would they start noticing irregularities and start investigating claims of fraud and corruption in this elections vote? Or would they just remain Fair and Balanced?
[Opposition leader Victor "I got bigger balls than Kerry"] Yushchenko called on Ukrainian civil servants and police to cross over and join the mass protests that have gripped the nation since the vote.
"Ukraine needs you, come over to our side," he urged, as protesters camped defiantly outside the assembly, many waving the signature opposition color of orange, before heeding a call to march on the president's office building.
Regardless of lessons gone untaught, this is a very interesting story, and I'm curious as to how it will work itself out. Ukraine, the oldest son of Russia's loose federation of former Soviet states, is an important piece in the geopolitical chess match now being played. I'm sure the US would like nothing more than to see it go their way, opening the door for NATO and further US influence in central Asia. All Washington is saying right now is that they're "deeply disturbed" about the election results. Not here, of course. Over there.
This day of mourning and silenct introspection, the anniversary of JFK's death, calls for something extra special to make the memory and the experience that much more vivid -- only for those of you lucky enough to have a PC.
Monday, November 22, 2004
On the same day an article appears in salon.com questioning his integrity, William Saffire writes a ramshackle column that, well, questions his integrity.
Article II of the Constitution directed that in the future only "natural born" citizens would be eligible for the nation's highest office. There may have been reason for suspicion of the foreign-born as the nation was in formation, but that nativist bias has no place in a nation proud of its "golden door."
The unequalizer in our Constitution cries out for fixing. Some of us have been muttering about this for decades, but it's always been academic - a theoretical exercise in excising a discriminatory phrase whose purpose has long since atrophied.
Comes now Arnold Schwarzenegger, an immigrant from Austria who by a fluke of recall was able to circumvent the centrist-blocking primaries and get himself elected governor of California. Four of the last ten presidential elections have been won by former officeholders of that largest state in the Union.
My guess is that most liberals will be conflicted as this issue develops; antidiscrimination is an article of faith, but they don't want a yodeling Republican cowboy in the White House. Contrariwise, some right-wingers who look askance at a pro-choice candidate who is comfortable with gays are also closet nativists.
Yet both camps know that Hispanics make up the swingiest ethnic vote, growing each year, and could be influenced mightily by an issue like equal rights for immigrants.
One step up at a time. After ratification of the 28th Amendment in 2007, I envision a G.O.P. ticket the next year with Rudy Giuliani or John McCain on top and Schwarzenegger as running-mate. For Democrats, Evan Bayh or Hillary Clinton for president, Peter Jennings (Canadian-born) for v.p.
I don't suppose I disagree that it's rather xenophobic to bar anyone but those born in the USA to become president. But what about those of us born here who are still never going to be President, supported by the Constitution or not? What I like less is Saffire's half-assed argument that Hispanic immigrants will feel emboldened by newfound rights and turnip pickers will suddenly start running for president. I don't like that he says he's been thinking about this for years and now, with Arnold Schwarzennegger, perhaps the time has come. It reads to me like some half-hearted and partisan non-issue that can be manipulated to ensure four, eight, or twelve more years of (R) supremacy. Surely there are more noteworthy topics to investigate in such a hallowed space.
And what does Arnold offer? He has no experience. He has no stature. He is popular for killing aliens and humans alike, and he does happen to be governor of the largest state, and he does happen to be Republican. This is where it comes from, doesn't it? Not from some concern over equal rights for all the world's citizens seeking a dream in America. Republicans are so shortsighted, they're willing to change the Constitution for their immediate gain, whether it's gay marriage, abortion, this, or procedural rules in the senate. Democrats have been drunk with power and myopic in the past, for sure. (They still are frustratingly myopic, but power they do not have.) But nothing appraoaches the arrogance with which Republicans are now tearing across our political landscape. They're like those fucking dudes with mohawks in Mad Max and even Mel Gibson is now on their side.
As for Saffire, I've always respected him as being, at least, a consistent conservative; though I must say I don't read his column often enough nor for enough time to make a full judgment. I certainly read nothing about "MonicaGate," being so disgusted as I was with the whole affair. And I wasn't aware that his defense of Israel has been so fervent and blind. Bottom line, I guess, is that he ain't perfect and, though I thought he was more, perhaps he's just another ideological hack. Both sides got those, in spades.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Palestinians suspected from the very beginning that there was something fishy going on in Yasir Arafat's sudden sickness and death. The PLA, which carries little legitimacy with the everyman there, could very well have poisoned Arafat to consolidate power for themselves in the face of a rising Hamas; this, anyway, is the thinking. Now Arafat's kin are deciding what to do with the man's medical records.
Yasser Arafat's nephew arrived in Paris on Sunday to collect the Palestinian leader's medical records, which could explain the cause of his death. Nasser al-Kidwa, who is also the Palestinian representative to the United Nations (news - web sites), would not say when he would collect the records.
The Palestinian Authrority has promised to make public the cause of Arafat's death on Nov. 11 in a Paris-area military hospital.
A half brother of Arafat, Mohsen Arafat, said Saturday that the Palestinian people are entitled to know what killed their leader.
Arafat's widow, Suha, has already taken possession of the medical records, and her lawyer said she is considering whether to release information to the public. She obtained the file from the Percy Military Training Hospital in suburban Paris where Arafat was treated.
It's odd that no one knows what caused Arafat's death. Also odd is that Suha at one time accused the PLA of murdering her husband, but later took all that back and apologized -- and now she can't decide whether or not to end speculation by releasing his records. One wonders what deals are being brokered and what parcels are being handed out right now. I believe Arafat's departure is ultimately good for any progress, but I hope some new leadership can take the reins.
Now if only Ariel Sharon would eat more fried chicken...