Monday, February 28, 2005

And they try to secede from the Union every now and again, too.

I don't rightly know if any "grassroots" movement is going to sweep the nation because of this town meeting takeover. Heck, I'm willing to wager that the referendum isn't due to a grasssroots effort at all, given that Vermont is for all intents and purposes a suburb of Boston now, and there's most likely a fair bit of move-on money still being thrown around up there.
Another Job Satisfaction Study is Out.

Job satisfaction? I've always figured that I'd have a day job that was tolerable in order to support my rich home life. I'm okay with that. Provided you train me, treat me with respect, and compensate me decently, I will do my best for you on your time. I at one point even liked that I was doing what I do ostensibly for the "greater good." Abuse of good faith, however can do one heck of a lot towards souring one's feelings towards one's place of employment, however. (Probably should lay off now and go to bed. This is a sensitive point for me. For a lot of us, I think.)
Granted, I do live in an area with a high concentration of "Kerry/Edwards for a Strong America" posters still on lawns in in house windows...but still. Walking home tonight, on Park Street in Somerville, I saw a little hybrid car with a bumper sticker that said:

"What Would Wellstone Do? (WWWD)"

May whoever strike me down for this, but being brain-fried into literal mode by the events of the day, all I could think of was, "be rolling in his grave?"

Did a google search on this item and found an interesting post on this grief fetishing, on not being able to let go. Mind you, this was written a bit over a year and a half ago by someone apparently in Wellstone's home state.
Storms a'brewing

In Lebanon, in Egypt. I wonder where else next? (Iran, hopefully? Syria?)

Inclement weather due to hit at some point this evening here.
Work feels like a hurricane.

I took a moment to just sit and stare at a picture on my cubicle wall, to focus myself. Heard the funniest thing, too - a coworker a couple cubicles over humming a bit of Enya. It's actually very pleasant.

Sigh. Back to the grind.
Les Pensées Sont des Flowers

Nothing so deep as the above; just thinking about flowers. Would you mind please dropping me a line to tell me about your favorites (for the garden, in a vase, behind your ear or in your teeth as you waltz around the ballroom floor, etc)? I'd really appreciate your input.

Monday Morning Roadkill


"I'm not positive these are the ones pulled from the market, but
they're pretty silly anyway."

For more info, see this.
By the way,

I took this off the last post, because something didn't quite jibe for me.
I'm pretty certain that I'm correct about why Trois Couleurs: Rouge got short shrift (confusion as to its country of origin), but that was a couple years after the story of the Spanish Army deserter getting to schtup all the daughters in the family that takes him in (saving the virgin for last, and marrying her, of course) having gotten the best foreign film Oscar in 1993. The Scent of Green Papaya should have won. It was a much better film.

If I knew you were coming, I'd have baked a cake.

(yawn)...good morning, Oscar viewing folks. Hope you enjoyed the festivities. I went to bed early last night, so wasn't particularly cognizant of much. Then again, since I didn't see any of the nominated films (though I did hear of roughly 1/2 of them), the prospect of watching an awards show about them seemed to be about as engaging as watching a cricket match or something. Anyway, hope you had fun and Happy Monday to you. I'm going to go make like Henry Darger, now and clean up some messes at work.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

This seems like an excellent idea.

Since most (if not all) of the people who attacked the US on 9/11 did much of the planning/meeting in Europe, of course we need to concentrate getting our message out to the Middle Eastern populations in Europe. This would have to be a two pronged effort of both providing an alternative to the radical Islamic message and combatting European Anti Americanism. I don't think that we can rely on the French, Dutch, German, Belgian policymakers to help us out much (in spite of all the recent photo ops), as it's much easier for them to fall back on that, rather than to confront the problems they've gotten themselves into. We might as well take matters into our own hands.

As for this:

But independent experts say Alhurra's mass-market appeal is a risky departure from a Cold War propaganda strategy that sought to influence decision-makers rather than general audiences.

"I just don't know how effective it's going to be. A better use of resources would be to work with moderate leaders throughout the Arab world," said Nancy Snow, a propaganda expert at California State University, Fullerton.

First, this isn't the Cold War anymore. How battles are being waged has changed considerably since then. Also, my interpretation of past events is that the general audiences are the decisionmakers now. As for propaganda expert Snow's solution as to what constitutes a "better use of resources," which moderate leaders does she intend that the US work with? Moderate mosque leaders? Moderate country leaders? I think we're doing that right now. Or does she mean work with in the form of more aid (military and financial) to said leaders, like we've done with so much success in the past with the likes of Hosni Mubarak and the House of Saud?
And if all your friends were to go jump in a lake, would you do it too?

I found a lovely site by just hitting that random blog surfing button at the top of my page. Much as I love my little bit of Eden carved out in the big, bad city, Swamp Thing sounds like just the neighbor I'd love to have later on. (Not to mention Butterfly, another site I found on Swamp Thing's.)

Anyway, Swamp thing was told she had to do this by Butterfly, who let herself be swayed by peer pressure.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Here goes:

"...Ma mère, ayant appris qu'il composait, lui avait dit par amabilité que, quand elle irait le voir, il faudrait qu'il lui fit entendre quelque chose de lui. M. Vinteuil en aurait eu beaucoup de joie, mais il poussait la politesse et la bonté jusqu'à de tels scruples que, se mettant toujours à la place des autres, il craignait de les ennuyer et de leur paraître égoïste s'il suivait ou seulement laissait deviner son désir. Le jour où mes parents étaients allés chez lui en visite, je les avais accompagnés, mais ils m'avaient permis de rester dehors, et comme la maison de M. Vinteuil, Montjouvain, était en contrebas d'un monticule buissonneux, où je m'etais caché, je m'étais trouvé de plain-pied avec le salon du second étage, à cinquante centimètres de la fenêtre..."

"...My mother, having learned that he composed, had mentioned to him affably that, when she came to visit, he would have to let her listen to something of his. Monsieur Vinteuil was thrilled at the prospect, but he had the habit of pushing politeness to the point where, in always trying to 'put himself into other people's shoes,' he feared boring them or even appearing self-centered if he imposed on them or even dropped hints about his loves. The day my parents went to visit him, I accompanied them. They, however, let me stay outdoors, and since Monsieur Vinteuil's home, Montjouvain, was just below a little wooded hill where I hid myself, I found myself at the same level as the third floor salon, roughly a couple feet from the window..."

(Yup, you guessed it - Gosh Darned Proust. No, this is not considered cool by anyone I know. Yes, I am made fun of for this sort of stuff (ask me about my various nicknames sometime). Although this was not the closest book to me, it makes a heck of a better read than the book that was lying on top of it.)

Who's next?
Idle thoughts for an Idle Sunday

Early to bed last night, but a not so early to rise today. Fell asleep looking at my gardening porn and woke up to my two little odalisques curled up with me under the covers.
Made myself the usual 1/2 pot of coffee and some improvised pain perdu (mashed a banana into the batter), then actually sat down to enjoy it in the sunny, sunny kitchen. Noted that the amaryllis I got as a gift a couple Christmases ago is getting ready to bloom - maybe in a week or so. It kind of looks like Audrey, and I really should get a picture of that.

Need to get out today some. Vitamin D and walking are two things that they haven't figured out how to charge an excise on here, so really should profit from both. Maybe I'll go to Target as part of my quest for nice looking, inexpensive matching sets of dishes (no two dinner plates match anymore in my house, and, maybe it's a sign of age - but that's really starting to bother me.) Dinner's going to be a Beef Burgundy, so need to get stuff (Beef and Burgundy, among other things) for that.

Wat ook? Well, bills need to get paid and I need to do some shredding/organizing. Also need to think about getting some part time work, as, well, ends are meeting, but not as closely as I'd like any more. It's weird being relatively educated, in your mid thirties, and still living somewhat like a college student (back in the days of yore), as salaries in most realms don't keep up with the cost of living.

Don't feel like thinking about this stuff anymore. Let's go take that bath, get some sunshine while the gettin's good, run our errands and enjoy the day. I have a couple other little projects I'm working on - maybe I'll talk about it all later, maybe not.

Post script: No, no more talk. Blogger decided to eat a good chunk of my post (quite a few problems with that lately), so this is it. Do go look at Ann Althouse's site, though. I did earlier. She's got a lot there.
Nope, you just can't make this stuff up.

For that matter, the big funeral outfit where I come from's called Amigone. (They're Greek. It's pronounced like Antigone. Yeah, right.)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A South of the Charles Girl Chimes In

I've not written anything on the latest Lawrence Summers/Harvard controversy because emotions are high and plenty of other people have taken up the in-the-moment sort of commentary. I have nothing to add to this. I'm more interested in the big picture anyway, and have been just sort of keeping an eye on what's been going on since I moved up to Somerville and all hell started breaking loose. To me it seems as though Summers may be onto something if he's managing to piss off all the right people like he seems to be.

This Tech Central Station article provides an excellent synopsis of the controversies to date, from Summers denouncing a call for Harvard to divest from Israeli companies to his calling Cornell West on his quality of scholarship, disallowing the law school from participating in that suit over federal funding for schools that do not allow military recruitment on campus, and the current tempest fomented by some hysterical reactionaries regarding his comments on women in the sciences.

To this, I would probably add that he's gained no fans for the current relooking at Harvard's reexamination of its student rape/harassment policy, as well, though I'm not certain to what level he's involved.

It's at this point that I make my admission that, though I have no real fondness to this behemoth north of the Charles that tends to overshadow everything else, I'm watching with much interest how this all pans out for Dr. Summers. I wish him the best in his endeavors, as 17 years ago, when I moved here, the former "sleepy commuter school," and "backwater Boston College" I was attending was in the throes of almost exactly the same sort of conflict. The gritty, strong-armed visionary who set nearly everyone on edge over there managed to pull something amazing off, too, by turning this former party school into what is now considered to be an "academic powerhouse." (I see a lot of parallels to Summers in Silber, as well - from the confrontational style to the ramping up of academics to even the Democratic politics with tough-love delivery). Boston University had nowhere to go but up, and it skyrocketed, thanks to John Silber. Harvard will always be Harvard, but perhaps with Summers to kick it back into shape, it will reverse its decline in some areas into a "Coach Bag" diploma (expensive, pretty, lots of brand name cache, but of decreasing quality - is that a BU girl metaphor or what?).
On the iPod Cult(ure):

Walkmen came and we've got the iPod. Personally, I don't see what's so great about them. When you're living in a big city, it's good to have your wits about you. Especially in a city known for its horrible drivers (who are most likely otherwise engaged, so not paying attention to pedestrians, other drivers, stoplights, etc.)

This reader at Andrew Sullivan's site in another "bohemian section" of Boston hits on something that I've seen quite a while ago - a broader culture of isolationism.

Allied to the iPod thing is the taking your laptop out on dates trend. For example, my roommate has told me about his desire to buy a laptop so he can sit and surf the net in the Davis Square cafes. I think that that is the saddest thing in the world. Aren't cafes places to go to meet people and socialize? Why go out and take up a table somewhere if all you are going to be doing is browsing Match or playing Myst? Though I used to spend a decent amount of time in different cafes here, I find that it's just too annoying to do so anymore as the vast majority of the seats (if not all of them) tend to be taken up by people spread out with their laptops. Generally if I decide I want a coffee, I get one to go and sit in a park or I make my own. The places in my neighborhood (Somerville) just aren't friendly or even relatively pleasant to an un-plugged-in person anymore.

Montaigne used to talk about cultivating a petite arrière boutique so that, even if you were in a crowded room, you could enjoy the benefits of solitude. Boston society (and maybe all urban society?) has gone way beyond that into what seems to be an aggresively antisocial mode. We seem to be all "back shop" and no retail space - no public face forward. No space for interaction. Heck, we can't even get it together to attempt to play together (nicely or otherwise) anymore.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Go Hargo!

I'm sorry that he had to take the images down. I particularly loved the pictures featuring his cat Edie, who reminded me of Pablo's Tony and my little Bashi (rest his soul).
Another amaryllis in bloom chez Harry.  Posted by Hello
Just got my National Poetry Month promotional packet in the mail...leaving me plenty of time to get the word out and get people excited for this year's fun.

For that matter, let me say it again that I have another site called Waiting for April that I open up for National Poetry Month. I'd love it if you'd go over, take a look at how it's set up, and consider submitting a favorite poem along with a little blurb on your choice. Don't worry...I'm not going to grade anyone on anything. Heck, you don't even have to use your name. It's all in good fun, and to me, a great way to communicate with others about other creative means of communication. Posted by Hello
Ann Althouse warns against romanticizing Hunter Thompson's suicide:

I repeat the point from my title: do not romanticize a suicide. I'm sure the family needs to find ways to deal with their own loss and their own sense of responsibility and, less sympathetically, has an interest in preserving and promoting the reputation of the author, but statements like this are reckless and dangerous. How many young (and older) people read and admire Hunter S. Thompson and sometimes have thoughts of suicide? Portraying it as a beautiful thing, a triumph, and an act of sublime control over destiny is profoundly wrong!

Excellent point. How many disaffected twenty-somethings did I know in school who were trying to live the Bukowski life, as though destroying your body like he did his was the path to enlightenment? (Many grew out of this, some did not.) For that matter, how many young men in Romantic Era Europe shot themselves in the head a la Werther, as though this were a fashion choice not dissimilar to tying their cravats in the way their fictional hero described himself doing?


Thank you for the link, Ann. Working for an agency that treats behavioral health issues and having dealt with the deaths (self inflicted - slow method and quick) of more than one depressed artistic friend, I do find the media's playing up this romanticized image of suicide very irresponsible. People are so impressionable.
Carnival's up! Already I've found something that I'm going to make for dinner this weekend if not tonight.

Also, check out the Rocket Man's site. He's a hoot and a holler, for cryin' in a bucket. (This juvenile observation in particular had me on the floor.)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I'm not really sure why a friend sent this to me, except maybe to annoy me. If I'm schtupping you, for crying out loud, I'm making damn sure that I'm not going to get into trouble, as I never know if I might need to get the hell away from you. Biological links tend to complicate these sorts of matters.

I think that out of everyone involved, the one I feel the most sorry for is the child. Imagine (not so hard, really) having two self-centered gits for parents like this poor thing's.

Kind of put the whole "strong female" thing into perspective, didn't she?
God bless her.

-via Althouse.
My new department head recently asked my boss why I hated him so much. I honestly don't understand why, but for the sake of building bridges, I baked something for him last week:


3/4 c butter
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1 c cake flour (sifted)
1 T rum
t t vanilla or 1 t grated lemon peel

Melt and cool butter. Heat eggs and sugar in a double boiler until lukewarm, stirring constantly. remove from heat, and beat until thick, but light and creamy. When mixture is cool, sift flour in gradually. Add the melted butter and the flavorings. Bake in greased madeleine tins/muffin tins for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Yield - approx 25-30.

This recipe is an adaptation of the Joy of Cooking one which is dead wrong on a number of counts. I further modified it because:

a.) My local grocery store's kind of like that Soviet-era Moscow store called "Gum" (meaning, on the night I went looking for vanilla and fresh lemons, the one bottle of vanilla they had was more expensive than a 30 year old port and there were no fresh lemons. Oh, and the chicken rotisserie machine had started a grease fire, so the place was filled with smoke. I thought it best to just leave.)

b.) I'm cheap. I ended up substituting a couple spoons ful of Captain Morgan (got a nip of it at the local package store - $1.50 as opposed to six dollars for the vanilla.) and the rind of a blood orange I had lying around for the five dollar jarred lemon rind they had at Gum...sorry, I meant Shaws. The results were amazing.

As it turned out, my boss's boss ended up leaving early to do ostensibly corporate stuff on a Friday afternoon, so I had a pretty rich lunch and shared the rest with my cube mates. Enjoy.


Bonjour aux amateurs de la haute cuisine du Carnaval! Voici une petite lecture de base à propos de ces gâteaux si bien connus. Amusez-vous bien avec si vous avez l'inclination...
Oliver Kamm has a followup to his earlier post on the Crafts Council "Knit 2 Together" exhibition. Apparently, he was invited by the curators to take a look new tool of "positive social force," and came back thoroughly unimpressed. I can't say that I blame him, either.
Hell is waking up to this playing in your head.
By the way, The preceeding post is dedicated to my "creative writing" teacher in high school who wouldn't accept a story I wrote because it was written in the second person and nobody who's a decent writer ever does anything like that.

Yeah? Try telling that to this guy. Pfft. Hss.

Ever have one of those mornings where...

You get up, do your autopilot morning routine, put on the outfit you set out for yourself the night before and find that the silk blouse that coordinates perfectly with the green tweed skirt (long skirt, as you can't wear stockings due to the fact that your legs look like you were bushwhacking in effing poison ivy) has a huge waterstain across the front? Panicked because the routine's been broken and you don't have any Plan B, you toss that blouse off and rifle around for something ironed. The next closest (ironed) match is a pretty grayish-yellow silk blouse that you love almost like a pet. As you're buttoning this choice, you note a wet feeling on your thumb: the cut you inflicted on yourself the other day (remember what I said about being a klutz?) has reopened and you're bleeding all down the front placket. Disgusted, and now cursing under your breath, you pull this one off, take it to the kitchen sink (the bathroom one's out of commission right now) and sponge off the blood. Thank heavens it didn't set yet. Blouse number three isn't even ironed this time. It's plain white, and has a bit of stretch in it, so not too slovenly looking. You pull it over your head (this one's actually buttoned) and hear a loud -RIP-; the right side seam is now a vent that extends halfway to your armpit. The cursing is no longer a sotto voce and you're stomping around the apartment in your underwear not even capable of thinking rationally about what to do next. Finally, you find another stretchy blouse that doesn't look too wrinkled (though missing one button on one of the sleeve cuffs) and a linty but clean pair of floppy black pants. Stuff matches enough (close enough for Government work? -snort-), so you're out the door. At work, people know enough to leave you alone, as you've that look that says you could very easily slap them, leave in a huff, take your vacation cash-in, buy a one way plane ticket to the Phillipines, get a gun and do fricking actuarial work for a living while picking off -ahem- "insurgents" in your spare time. (Don't get your knickers in a bind; we all have our fantasies. When I'm in a mood and it's that time of the month, I want severed heads on platters. I want blood.)
XIII. Recueillement

Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,
Aux uns portant la paix, aus autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,
Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,
Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,
Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,
Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;
Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le Soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche,
Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,
Entends, ma chère, la douce Nuit qui marche.

-Charles Baudelaire, Nouvelles Fleurs du Mal

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I've had enough of 2005 already.

I'm sorry, but lately it seems as though someone's really been out to get me. I can't seem to get rid of the nasty cough I've had since I caught the flu a month ago. It's been difficult to breathe of late (and I don't know if it's because of stale air, pollution or what) - almost to the point where I've been having to stop a number of times on my walks in to work. Now, the latest thing is that I'm having a particularly nasty allergic reaction to something in my environment. I've also noted that I'm bumping into things a fair bit more often than before. Granted, I've always been known as klutzy and I have been a bit more tired than usual. I worry, though, sometimes, as we've got some degenerative conditions running in the family.

Work's been particularly hectic of late, as well - lots of thankless stuff that feels like it's just going through the motions.

Granted, things aren't as bad as they could be (thank heavens), but they aren't so great, either. I'm trying to find my way out of all this, and I will, eventually. I hope I don't sound like I'm feeling sorry for me, or like I'm fishing for wishes or anything. That's really not the case. I've just been really under the weather, and inexplicably guilty over that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I've been giving some thought to what new projects to start in the yard once I'm able to dig in the dirt again. This year, darn it, is going to be the year of the real compost pile. I'm tired of giving all my perfectly good vegetable bits to Pablo who won't return them to me after they've been properly aged.

Seeing as the chain link fence is not going to come down (it's the only barrier between me and the Tufts students next door), I think I'd like to do some beautification work on it. My thought was to get some nice little shade-loving clingy things trained on it. I particularly love clematises, but they're kind of expensive, so maybe I'll get a few (like 3-4) and intersperse them with sweet peas and morning glories. The morning glory foliage should keep the clematis roots shaded enough, I would think.

The hardest sell of all these things is going to be the grape arbor I've decided that I want to start. I'm going to ask Lucas if he'd be willing to make a commitment of time to that venture, in addition to buying the materials and helping to design/build/place it. I'll buy the grapevines. It would be awfully nice to, in a few years time, be able to pick our own grapes for jelly (or wine or whatever) rather than have to go out and buy them. (Missed wild grape season this year, so was forced to go to a vineyard). Besides, everyone else in the neighborhood has an arbor, and we do need to keep up with the Joneses (or is it the Silvas and Goncalveses?), don't we? Another major plus is that heady smell of the fruits ripening on the vine during the late summer/early fall.
Urban Birding

I'm always amazed at who I'll roosting in my neighborhood. Today, for example, I saw two peregrines (actually pretty common now) hanging around Somerville High School. Also found a peregrine nest behind a pink house on Walnut Street. (Thought it was an awfully big squirrel nest way high up in a tree.)

Early last week, in addition to the normal mockingbirds, jays and starlings, I saw something very odd and that took me a minute or two to place, given its context. It appears as though we now have a pileated woodpecker in the 'hood! Often, now, I hear the characteristic KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK on the way to work.

Over the weekend, Hal and I took a walk around part of the Mystic River Reservation where we saw all manner of gulls and pigeons (it is the city, after all), a flock of canadas, a couple of odd little buffleheady-wood ducky fellows mixed in with the mallards, two swans and a hawk with the reddest tail (looked like it was spray-painted)I've seen yet. We stopped and watched the swans preening for a good 20 minutes. The hawk circled by lower and lower, so we figured that it was either looking for pigeons or bunnies, both of which can be found in quantity there.

All this, and it's still wintertime, too. I really need to pick up a Sibley Guide sometime before Spring.
Hey: if anyone out there has a spare copy of Ensler's Vagina Monologues kicking around, I'd love to either barter for it or buy it outright from you. I could order it off of Amazon or even get it out of the library, but I figured I'd ask around first.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Just sort of drowsed through today. Baked some cookies, shoveled some snow. Made soup (pasta e fagioli) and read a bit in between naps. Sunday was lovely, so I'll talk about that later.
(sigh) Good night.

Sunday, February 20, 2005


"Now that Chuck Jones is safely buried, they feel a need to mess with the classic characters. The consensus on the web is that people think they look evil and silly."


Opinions? I think they look dumb and dated, myself.
Yesterday was a pretty nice day.

Got up relatively early yesterday and managed to make the wander across the river to the Boston Printmakers 2005 North American Print Biennial.

I particularly enjoy this event because it is a chance to see numerous examples of the various media and processes which can be employed to create a print. My favorite, I think, will always be the simple relief print (where the artist cuts a design into a wood or linoleum block, inks the block and presses this to paper/fabric/whatever else s/he feels fit to stamp), but it's great fun to look at all the other works and be able to visually contrast, say, a mezzotint with drypoint etching or relief vs intaglio printing, for example.

The student exhibition is a great source of inspiration for me. Of course there is a wide range of talent/skills/creativity on display, but it's all instructive, and the better works are astonishing in their maturity (both in imagination and technic).

Of course, since I was out with my printmaking expert, I had a ball getting his point of view on these things. I have a good eye, myself, but I don't know a lot of the finer points of this genre; it's his territory. As a result, he gets treated to all sorts of question. However, it's fun to hear what comes from him unbidden - largely observations on how a background might be filled in, or about how admiring he is of a particular artist's technic.

These two biennials that we've seen now have been featuring a fair bit of photoshop work, and we're a bit perplexed with this. I guess that technically an inkjet or iris print is still a print, but so is the resultant finished product one brings back from the photo studio, so why not include photography in this mix? I understand that computerization is changing the realm, but I don't know if a little collage of images I'd pull off a google search and arranged in Quark is necessarily in the same class as someone else's reduction woodcut. That's for the experts to discuss, I guess. And time will tell if the computerized image manipulation will be viewed regularly side-by-side the more traditional works.

If you find yourself in the neighborhood of BU's School of Fine Arts 808 Gallery (808 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston), I'd highly recommend that you take a look into this exhibition. It's on until March 27th.

-Catherine Kernan, Sticks #1, screen print, 1988.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

I was recently out to dinner with a musician friend and the talk came around to the level of musical and general cultural awareness of people nowadays. My maintenance is that many in his generation didn't have the patience or desire tolearn to appreciate classical music, and, rather than just say that they didn't care for it, labelled it as "establishment" or "elitist." This has had an effect, I think, on how music has been taught in schools, on how much less classical music has been incorporated into popular culture, etc. He answered that generally if someone used the term "elitist" to describe something, they didn't merit his attention. If I were to follow my friend's lead, I'd be ignoring this post. The notion that a type of programming should be given less consideration because it doesn't fit in with one's personal tastes is one thing, as everyone has their preferences and probably feels this way about something. The notion that it's more than merely personal preferences, that it's the choice of a caricatured elite group (wealthy older people who can afford to buy the CDs anyway) is just laughable if it weren't so sad. One can argue that, as a group, NPR listeners are "no doubt the more affluent folks who are perfectly capable of purchasing all all the easily available classical music (substitute jazz, blues, bluegrass...journals and cable stations to provide constant news coverage) they want ..."

She goes on to say that "If poor, minority, or marginalized persons were big fans of classical music, I might think about this differently. But the audience for classical music does not deserve special favors."

Well, perhaps if it were classical music by poor, minority or the marginalized composers it would be alright? I don't quite understand this. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that given what station she's holding in life, she's probably not got her finger on the pulse of the tastes of the "poor, minority, marginalized." Beyond that, though, with what authority does she get to decide which audiences deserve "special favors" with regards to public radio programming (or anything else for that matter)?

Perhaps it is because I live in Boston where we have both an NPR station devoted to talk and a station devoted to music that I can see the importance of having a good balance of non commercial programming. I don't care for all the programming, but I'm not going to bedgrudge others a chance to listen to what I don't care for out of some misguided sense of (false) populism.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Frank J is performing a great service with his article/fact sheet about blogs and bloggers.

Would this be the blogging equivalent of the Popular Mechanics article on 9/11? 'Course not. It's still pretty cool, though.
Carnival's up!

Go take a look...there's a lot of really good looking stuff this week. (yum)
Modernism weakening its grip?

For some time, I've felt that we've been in need of a second Vienna Secession. When you cease to even attempt to communicate with the public, when you only concentrate on "speaking to other artists" (as Hal put it once), you end up with a lot of sound and little meaning. Will we see a movement back to less 'academic' works? Works that, as one letter writer put it, may give "a thought to the need human beings feel to have a song in their aching hearts?"

-via Colby Cosh, who ran with the fact that Strauss's Four Last Songs were darn appropriately named. (Kind of weird to run into this today, since Karen and I were actually talking about Strauss and these songs yesterday.)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Who needs "saffron" gates when we've got the Somerville Gates. Christo's so overrated, anyway.

-via Althouse
Ode to the King of Cold Posted by Hello

"Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
But since we're in front of the packie, my dear,
Would you mind it if I picked up some beer?"

My hats off to Yankee ingenuity and particularly that that I've seen of the Somervillians: where else but Winter Hill would you find a part of Paul Revere's Ride commemorated by a package store?

(Image by Lisa Poole, AP)
I like quiet, and in my advanced age, I find that surprises or other grands bouleversements tend to make me ver-r-y, ver-r-y cranky. One thing it has not been lately is quiet. There had been murmurings of a reorganization in my department, specifically with my group, and I've finally gotten some solid word on that: at some point, I'll be moving back up two floors from the financial second ring of hell to IT (on the fourth). Aside from that, my responsibilities are going to be changed somewhat, or rather, be made more official (meaning, I might get a crack at rewriting the job description.) I hope that this mean a bit of a raise in pay, as, well, I sure could use it.

On the home front, I've been knocking around the house, attempting spring cleaning. My room is smaller than my dorm room way back when, and I'm finding that I will have to a.) invest in some expensive organizing system b.) trade rooms (or kick the roommate out entirely - not practicable unless I get a raise) or c.) look into renting some studio space for my wool, my instrument, everything else related. Anyone know of any relatively cheap space around here anymore? Preferably within walking distance? (yeah, right.)

On the personal side of things, of course you all know that Hal's been sort of reorged out of the life. Not much going on in that regard, as there are a lot more issues than just him and me or how we relate to one another. That's definitely broken. We're both dealing with incredibly stressful, dysfunctional workplaces, and just need a break to get real world stuff taken care of. That's what I'm trying to do, anyway. I don't know what he's up to. (sigh)

Oh! Am also looking for a new dance teacher, as I recently found out from my girlfriend Samarra that her teacher ran off in December to Argentina possibly forever. Since Samarra doesn't teach, she only dances, I find myself in a bit of a lurch at the moment. I'm hoping my teacher vacuum will be filled soon, though, given that I work in dance studio central.

Also and finally (for now), I just noted that April's only a month and change away. What does that mean? Take a look here.
Now, those of you who know me well enough know that this season is better than Christmas, Valentine's Day and the Fourth of July put together. With that in mind, I'd like you to take a look at my newly tinkered-with poetry month site and consider submitting a poem you like (with a little blurb about it). Doesn't matter what it is (well, no dirty limericks, and would rather not have readers' original works - put your own site together if you're a writer, darnit!) I've been doing a poetry shebang for a number of years now, and it's evolved quite a bit. I'd like to do a cross between this and a carnival format this time around. Drop a line and let me know what you think, okay?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

This is what I got in lieu of images of woodcuts. Hal's coworker George threw this scarecrow together and Hal's been providing "background support." Posted by Hello

Monday, February 14, 2005

What should this girl do?

I told him to go away last week, to just leave me alone. Didn't want to deal with being hurt again.

We talked on Saturday, and he said to me that he understands what happened and that he still wants to try again, but would understand if I didn't. Live here in this benighted place is really causing a lot of stress, and if he didn't have me around, he'd be gone in an instant (this is something to which I can completely relate).

This morning, as I left, I noted a large envelope taped to my front door. In it was a Valentine card that he made along with a gorgeous print of Hank and Dana's house printed on rice paper. Along with it came the following note:

"A quick note about the woodcut: Ever since that time in the summer we drank wine with Craig in the backyard, I had been thinking this would make a good image - two large houses flanking a cute house wiht windows for eyes. You can see some of your garden as well as your shoveling efforts in the image. The woodcut is on mulberry paper (a Japanese rice paper). Also included is a "photoshopped" image of the eventual color block I will add for the sunset effect. I'll have to give on e to the owners with that addition!" - Hal."

As soon as I get permission from him to post the images, I will, as they really need to be seen. (Right now just have the hard copies and a couple scans in .pdf format).

Anyway, here's my question, and it's a two parter:

I've been asking him to take up printing again (right down to marching into Pearl to get inks and linoleum blocks), but he'd been pretty steadfast in his not wanting to do so. Now he's revisiting it, and with amazing results. I'm wondering - is the resurgence in interest because I'd stopped bothering him about it, or because he had more free time to pursue it? If his output is of this quality, too, maybe I should keep him dumped so that he can suffer more and produce more art?

This is my preferred view, though both are lovely. Goodness, does this guy have a way with temperamental tropical types. Posted by Hello

Today's Monday Morning Flower is Harry's Valentine to us.  Posted by Hello
Hey, I know it's not high school anymore -

but I have so much fun making these compilations with my little iTunes toy.
Give me a bit of time to get stuff fleshed out here. It's a busy day, so I can't do too much linking/translation/interpretation on the fly.

Love Again (with a bit of an edge)
February 14, 2005

Lean On Me - Beth Orton
When Jimmy Falls In Love - Vance Gilbert
Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup - Natalie Cole
Only Love - K.D. Lang
Child of the Earth - Hugh Masekela
L'homme Des Marais - Les Negresses Vertes
Poetry Man - Zap Mama
Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
Conversation - Joni Mitchell
Now is the month of Maying – Morley/The King's Singers
The Shadow of Your Smile - Astrud Gilberto
Summer of Love - The B-52's
Como Esperando Abril - Silvio Rodriguez
Northern Sky - Nick Drake
(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman - Aretha Franklin
I Put a Spell On You - Nina Simone
Sache Que Je - Jean-Jacques Goldman
Help Yourself - Tom Jones
Brazil - Jimmy Dorsey & Orchestra
Know that I

There are shadows in "I love you"
Not only love; no, not just that.
There are lingering traces of past experiences
And a contract behind those words.

You say that love has its own language.
But for me, words are useless
If you feel the need to hold pat phrases hostage
As if they were sealed in wax and parchment.

So, know that I...;
Know it.
Know that I...

There is death within "I love you,"
There is 'I see nothing more than you.'
Dead to the world and to its poetry,
No longer reading but one's own rhymes -

A dishonest strategy,
That these three words do not validate.
There is a question in "I love you,"
That asks "and you love me, don't you?"

So, know that I...;
Know it.
Know that I...

-Jean Jacques Goldman
The life that I have is all that I have
And the life that I have is yours.
The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause,
For the peace of my years in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

-- Leo Marks

Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

I'm not really blue -

It just occurred to me that pink really pisses me off. Hope you like the ch anges. I'll tend to details (profile showing up twice, etc) after I get the real world stuff taken care of.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Crappy Valentine's Day?

I wasn't allowed to date when I was living back with my family, years ago, and I believe that this trained me to more than not mind my unattached state later on in life. As a result, I wonder if I'm not one of those rare birds who loves this little second-tier, Hallmark holiday and considers herself to be so lucky that she has so many valentines in her life?

Anyway, this jerk could blow up every florist and chocolate store around and I'd still find a way to celebrate it.

Whatever your state of attachment is, don't get caught up in the stress of commercialism or social mores. Enjoy the day for what it's worth: a naive little trifle where we are sanctioned to be a bit more affectionate or even romantic than usual. Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

In Desperate Need of Comfort and Food.

Have been dying for some sort of comfort food, in spite of or perhaps because of my having had to, in addition to many other things, break out the "fat" pants. Remembered this okay South Beach-wise recipe I adapted from Fannie me, it's much, much better than ersatz. I think I actually prefer it over French Toast.

Sweet Omelet - serves one

2 eggs
dash of salt
1 1/2 T granulated sugar (I substituted a packet and a half of artificial sweetner)
1/2 t vanilla (I substituted 1/2 t rum flavoring)
1T butter (or Pam, I'm sure. I used Smart Balance.)
(sprinkle of cinnamon, or nutmeg or both)
2T confectioners' sugar (I substituted another shake of cinnamon, a dash of granulated maple sugar and a dot of Smart Balance spread. I think that a wee smear of some sort of jelly would be good, too)

Combine the eggs, salt, granulated sugar, and vanilla and beat only long enough to blend. Put a 7-inch nonstick skillet over the heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter and as soon as it foams, tilt the pan so the butter coats the bottom. Pour in the eggs. Shake the pan forward and backward, pulling the eggs with a fork and letting the uncooked part run out to the edges, until the whole thing is creamy. Fold it in half and roll it out onto a warm plate. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar (or whatever topping you decide on).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Thank you, Oliver Kamm, for pointing me to this and making my day.

Knitting was not, as it is now, a leisure activity or stress reliever. Rather, it was a means of putting food on the table for many families in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Women were proud of their skills, but in many accounts that I've read, spoke with a bitterness at having been forced to do great quantities of piecework for relatively low pay, or at having work thrown back at them by potential buyers.

The notion that knitting is an anti-war activity is a weird one, as there is, at least in the US, a long history of knitting goods for soldiers. For examples of some vintage WWI and WWII patterns provided by the Red Cross, go to Lion Brand's website.

Finally, about knitting being solely a women's activity: perhaps so in modern England or the US, but in many parts of the world, this is simply not the case. In Iceland and Scandinavia, both boys and girls were taught to knit in school. I believe that in some middle eastern countries (Iran is one that comes to mind, but will have to look it up), women were not allowed to knit at all; it was considered men's work.

It's a pity that, given the beautiful things that have been created over the centuries, the Crafts Council chose to highlight the work of some needlework Damien Hirsts. In this, as in many other realms, though, shock seems to win out over all else.

My first exchange at work this morning (in front of the copyroom):

Bing (Payroll Guy): Good Morning, Be!
Me: Good Morning, Bing! You know that you're wearing the colors of the Dutch Royal Family, right?
Bing: No, I didn't know that.
Me: You learn something every day.
Bing: You bet.
Tanya (Accountant): Don't get him riled up, Be.

This (along with the paycheck) is why I show up at work regularly. Without the coworkers I have here, there'd be no reason to.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fat Tuesday

I was going to make a comment about the headline being a bit redundant - Fat Tuesday being Mardi Gras and all. The article isn't so bad, though. Since this is a more latin tradition, we don't do much up here for it (though I have heard that the Quebeckers throw a mean Mardi Gras party). It is fun to read about carnevales elsewhere in the world, though.

Anyone giving anything up for Lent? In the past, to get my mom's goat, I'd give up premarital sex and my brother would give up his belief in God. Nowadays, it's back to the more pedestrian things. No sugar. No cussing. I'm not giving up coffee this year, as that's my only bit of ballast left to throw overboard during troubled times. Nope, we're clinging to that one for dear life.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Déjà vu all over again.

Pablo was going over this routine to me just last week.

-Thank you, Ann!
So warm as to trick us into thinking that Spring might actually be around the corner.

Up until yesterday, perhaps, this was an ice-coated evergreen branch. Posted by Hello
Monday Morning Flower And Then Some

Both a pretty little spider plant bloom and possible proof that the only time the flowers arrive is when they think they're in the doghouse. Posted by Hello
Eh bien, continuons.

My mom and dad divorced back when I was very young, so I don't remember any details. Just a few disjointed images that I can't really relate to anything. I never knew much of my dad, for that matter, until we started talking more or less regularly throughout college.

Recently, I'd asked my mother how she dealt with my father when they were together. She said that, since Dad was largely noncommunicative (being a Dane, I guess that that would stand to reason), she'd get frustrated and yell at him. He'd not do anything but go on as if nothing happened. Eventually she divorced him. This is of no great comfort to me, as it appears as though I've inherited my mom's Slavic temperament and I've been dating my dad for some time.
Congratulations to the Patriots (Again).

I guess they're a dynasty now, like the Cowboys were when I was a kid.
Not being a huge fan of football, and actually preferring the Underdog, I guess I'm not tremendously overwhelmed by last night's win (Though I do have to say, I was glad to see that it was a close game to the end. Oh, and nobody got hurt in the post game "revelry" that has started to mark these victories. I'm very happy about that.). I guess there'll be a parade with Duck Boats and some more tee shirts for me to buy up and mail out (since the Bills don't seem to be doing all that well, the family tends to root for the other 'red white and blue' team). Both are good things.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Le Meilleur des Mondes*

Back when I was a poor student, I couldn't afford to get back home for the holidays. All my friends were back in the states, the people I was staying with had gone to Provence to visit other family, and I was left alone to care for the house. I remember being so depressed and lonely that I actually got the longing to read English. As luck would have it during this cheerful, cheerful time, the only book in the house was "Brave New World." Desperate to have some connection to my native tongue, I read it in spite of the sense of foreboding the back cover gave me.
About the only comfort I could find after reading of this dystopia where the masses were kept compliant with liberal administrations of sex and soma by an authoritarian state was that it was fiction. Could never happen. Or could it?

Theodore Dalrymple's article from a couple weeks ago gave me the distinct feeling that perhaps the society he works in is imitating art. No impulse control, no consequences. Sanctioned promiscuity. Feeling guilty about the bad choices you've made? No, you're just depressed. Get a prescription for antidepressants. Won't solve your problems, but at least the symptoms won't be so acute. This culture of dependence, this move away from a 'model of personal responsiblity,' is, unfortunately, not a fiction.

Much more on this subject from two blogs I found through (sigh) Oliver Kamm. Natalie Solent's post on 'learned helplessness' reminds me of some of the girls I'd met in college, the only difference being, the girls I went to school with tended to come from families who could afford to pay servants. The woman for whom time meant nothing seems to have come across a sort of personal assistant while on the dole.

Melanie Phillips writes on social policy and education matters (in addition to many other things). What I found particularly of interest in relation to the above are her posts on the "fatal combination of maleness and poverty (both 'material and spritual)," declining standards in education not being related to class size, and on the 'cultural collapse' that has produced the people who commit the crimes that the Home Office denies occurs due to "moral panic theory."

Much food for thought here in all these writers' observations. Do go take a look at what they have to say - especially if you consider the UK policies to be precursors to ours here.


*This translates idiomatically to "The best of all worlds," from Dr. Pangloss's pat phrase "tout est bien dans le meilleur des mondes."
This gave the Bebere's nose the coffee enema today.
I buy the wine because it's in the movie. The movie is "quirky," and I want to be like the people in the movie. I'm quirky. I'm an individual.

(Good for commerce all around, of course. Amazing how well that whole I like it and I'm like it! works. That and The TV told me to buy it.)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Jello Shot Duty

Karen's having a Super Bowl party and Hal and I are invited! Since she's the best cook and baker I know (not to mention the best bartender), I was at a loss as to what to bring. Ever resourceful and ever thinking of creative ways to get tipsy, she recommended Jello Shots. Now, I'd heard of these things, but only tasted them once (green Jello with melon liqueur. Heavenly.). Figuring that I'd have a bit of chemistry to deal with (what's one of the main components of anti freeze? Bingo. Alcohol.), I started researching and testing right away. This basic recipe seems to have worked out the best:

Basic Jello Shots
3 packages Jello
3 c. boiling water
2 c. vodka (or other liquor)

Make Jello according to package instructions, substituting vodka for cold water. Pour into shot glasses (I prefer to put the mixture in a cake pan and cut into squares). Chill until jelled.

Since I figured that it would be good to have with themed shots for the party, here are some combinations I came up with:

New England:

strawberry Jello with peach schnapps (like a melba. You could substitute raspberry Jello, but will be more purplish than red)

berry blue Jello with vodka


lemon Jello with blue curacao

white grape (the "sparkle" Jello) with vodka

Enjoy...may whichever team you're rooting for win...and drive safely afterwards!


Hi there, Carnival folks! Thanks for stopping by! Just like the Glittering Eye, I really don't know whether these treats should be considered drinks or dessert. I can, however, say with authority that they "work every time."
"How can you call yourself a political party?"

Ann Althouse is on a roll today. I found the relation of this particular interchange to be very enlightening. It's sort of what I've been hashing around with my 'move on' counterparts since before the election. I'd say that, beyond not being able to name leaders of their party or movement, they have no message aside from "everything the current administration is doing is bad." Sorry, that doesn't cut it for me (well, and for a bigger than they'll admit swath of the population, too.) We ain't as dumb as we look. We may be "anti intellectual" (as one of the guy's relatives said), but we understand the difference between substance and the lack thereof. You may disagree with the current administration, but they're out there and they've been more or less coherent in their communications. The Democrats haven't, and I resent (just as many others do) their faulting the electorate for their lack of vision, direction, leadership, content, introspection.


Opinionjournal is featuring a good analysis on the Democratic Party's (and modern liberalism's) message (or lack thereof) since the first half of the last century.

The "no message" interpretation of the 2004 election claims that this gap has now closed, finally and completely: Liberalism cannot become politically strong again until it stops being so theoretically weak. But Democrats need to recognize how far back, and how far down, liberalism's confusion goes. The notion that liberalism is fundamentally indecipherable was voiced frequently during the 1930s, when liberals absolutely dominated American politics.

It's some cold comfort to learn that the problem's a recent one, and that it's not just a few but many who have wondered on it and asked for some clarification.
More Ruminations Over the Man/Woman Thing

With regards to the above question about settling for either:

-passion with the guy who isn't necessarily healthy for you but rings your bell or
-long term stability with someone who may not set you on fire, but who you have genuine affection for

I'd either opt for:

-both if they could handle it and I'd be allowed my freedom or
-neither if both want to claim me as their territory

As I've said before, I've become the man I was supposed to marry. I have plenty of friends and a somewhat laissez-faire relationship with a nice enough man. What more does a girl really need?
A good combination of realism and idealism.

I was out to dinner last week with a friend, and, as it often does 'round here, the talk got to be about politics. (Go back to that did it happen? Oh yes! We were talking about being artistically literate and about people's lack of the basic knowledge of such things nowadays. Whatever happened to the days when people would get passionate about, say, music, for example? You know, like back in the day when the audience rioted at the opening performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring? My maintenance is that since, oh, maybe 1968, when all this sort of stuff was considered elitist and music education started lagging, we ended up with a generation of people who, well, didn't have the understanding or interest in the discipline. The passion's still there, by the way, just in other realms: just walk into any public area in Cambridge/Somerville and say something like, "GWB isn't so bad" and watch them go after you like a pack of wild shih-tsus.

The conversation stopped there: my dining partner shook his head. "How could anyone vote for Bush? How could they?" (Mind you, admitting that you voted for a (fanning myself) Republican is harder than coming out as being gay. People are at least forced to be tolerant of the latter preference, so there are many who don't know that I have here. Heck, I never asked my boyfriend about voting until maybe a couple weeks ago.) He could not wrap his mind around the possibility of anyone save for folks who had lots of rusty cars on their lawns, who wore Dale Earnhart caps, who thumped bibles and who had few if any teeth voting for the man who is currently President.

Last night's SOTU address was a good reminder, as were the Democrats' rebuttals. (I'll go looking for an actual transcript of this later. I have to get to work and the girl cat's, well, acting up.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice...

...pull down your pants and slide on the ice!

My mom hollered that at the market once when she was a kid and got into b-i-i-i-g trouble. I wonder what she'd think if she knew that on the way into work, I didn't holler this. I did it.

Another bloom from Harry's baby Posted by Hello

The past few days have been sunny and warm, which is a big help in getting rid of a lot of the ice and snow we got hit with. I love the angle of the sun in late afternoon; it suffuses everything with a soft (yes, sexy), golden glow. Posted by Hello
Comment dire "hook, line and sinker" en français?(...or, a little translation exercise during my lunchbreak.)

Un soldat américain otage en Irak: Un groupe islamiste menace d'égorger John Adam dans les 72 heures.

American Soldier taken hostage in Iraq: Islamic group threatens to cut the throat of John Adam in 72 hours.

Foreigners and Iraqis continue to be the targets of kidnappings in Iraq. An armed group claimed, in a communique published yesterday on an Islamist website and accompanied with a photo, to be holding an American soldier hostage and threatened to cut his throat. "Our heros in the Squadron of the Mujahadin in Iraq captured an American Soldier, John Adam, after having killed a number of his camarades(...). We are going to cut his throat if our prisoners held in prisons of the Occupation (in Iraq) are not liberated within 72 hours after the date of publication of this communique", claims the message, signed "Squadron of the Mujahadin - Iraq," which has no date, and which could not be authenticated.

On its side, The International Confederation of Free-Trade Unions (CISL), condemned, yesterday, in a communique, the kidnapping of Iraqi Trade Unionist Talib Khadim al-Tayee last Thursday after the assassination of another Union leader. The President of the IMM & PU, Iraqi union of mechanics, metallurgists and rinters, was kidnapped on January 27th "by six armed individuals," reports the CISL. "This kidnapping, which occurred after the torture and murder on January 4, 2005, of Jadi Saleh, International Secretary of the Iraqi federation of Trade Unions, clearly shows the dangers pursuing the Trade Unionists vis-a-vis the antidemocratic forces," stated the CISL. Hadi Saleh, also a member of the Communist Party, was found at his home in Baghdad strangled, eyes covered and hands bound by wire, an assassination perpetrated, according to Iraqi Union sources, by ex-agents of the Mukharabat, the secret police of Saddam Hussein.

The draconian security plan put in place for the polls, however, has been progressively rolled back, as Baghdad compiles the results of Sunday's elections that took place in all of Iraq. The definitive results will be made public the beginning of next week. (AFP, Reuter)"

For all intents and purposes, La Libération is the French equivalent of the Guardian - so maybe it's a collaborative effort. (I didn't see anything about wire services used for the Guardian story, so don't know if they're pulling from the same places.)

-rémerciements à Pablo!



Soldat américain ou poupée mannequin?

American Soldier or poseable doll?

Islamist net surfers claimed on Wednesday that the message accompanied by a photo, and published yesterday on a website in which an armed group in Iraq claimed to be holding an American soldier is a fake. The authors of this statement, signed "Squadrons of the Mujahadin - Iraq," that has no date, threaten to cut the throat of the soldier named "John Adam" if Iraqis held in American prisons in Iraq were not set free within 72 hours.

This statement was sent out with a photo of a "man of color" in uniform, seated on the ground, hands tied behind his back, and with a machine gun held against his head. The text and photo were put online at a site used regularly by armed Islamist groups in Iraq. American military authorities stated that they had "no knowledge of anyone currently missing."

An American company that manufactures poseable dolls, Dragon Models USA, Inc, announced on Tuesday that one of its dolls could have been used for the photo. The face "shows, in our opinion, a striking resemblance" to the "Cody" model," stated one of the managers. The facial characteristics, the uniform, the shoes and the equipment belonging to the person in the picture were, in effect, identical to those on the doll manufactured by the California-based company."

(snort). I've yet to see any anything like this listed in the Guardian, however. Eventually, maybe. Or not. Who knows.


For more on this story, go check out the usual suspects.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"What are you going to do, shoot us?"

Well, actually, yes. This is incredibly sad, and I seriously hope that the perpetrator gets locked away for a very, very long time. You really have to hand it to this young woman, though, for standing up for herself. As we know, in other, more enlightened parts of the world, what she did would be considered criminal.
It's not exploitation if it's sanctioned by the state.

It's been found that the coping skills needed to survive this sort of "career choice" are very similar to those developed by those who have been raped/systematically abused. Just because the state decides to legislate this under a rug in order to generate revenue does not mean that the now-legalized practice is not morally reprehensible.
I just can't wrap my mind around a state that would actually force its citizens, under threat of benefit loss, to sell their bodies. As Nick put it so well:

"...It's one thing to make prostitution legal. Fine. It's another to pretend that because it's legal, nobody should have a moral problem with it, and therefore force unwilling people into the sex trade. Who the hell thought this up? As far as I'm concerned, this borders on rape through blackmail... or at the very least government sanctioned sexual harassment."

My friend Pablo maintains that with these sorts of decisions, we're seeing a morality vacuum developing that may end well end up being filled with the likes of Sharia.

Ann Althouse has an interesting take on this:

...Of course, the Germans are contemptible if they continue in this fashion, but Americans can take a lesson from this too as we think about abortion, gay marriage, drug use, and other issues. You don't have to approve of something to want it to be legal, and legalization should not be read as a statement that there is no moral basis for opposing a practice. Law and morality are not the same thing, and we are fools if we allow the law to take the place of moral reasoning.

Fools, indeed. I hope, for the sake of the Germans (and particularly German women), that sensible minds will prevail in this. Best wishes to the conscientious objectors to this.
This just oozes irony, given the current state of the state in Germany.

A quote by Albert Einstein was hung from the German chancellery to mark 100 years since he made the first of his scientific discoveries that would change the world.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stood by as the quote "the state is for the people, and not the people for the state" was suspended from the northern face of his offices.

Provincetown at twilight. Though there was a lot of snow, the weather was such that it felt like spring. These were the best conditions we'd ever had for the winter visit. Posted by Hello

There was some sort of gay religious conference going on at our bed and breakfast and for some reason, they needed the room we ordinarily get, so we got an upgrade. A fireplace in a 18th century inn is a very nice amenity, indeed. It was weird having so many people around, though. We're used to having the place to ourselves this time of year. Posted by Hello

The gulls were eating well.Posted by Hello

These fellows huddled together quite a sight. It's amazing to see the variety of birds down here: Doves and gulls in so many different color combinations. All manner of waterfowl that we are hard pressed to identify...I really need to get a Sibley Guide for next year's outing. Posted by Hello

Music notes! Posted by Hello

Commercial Street at night.  Posted by Hello

Such a glorious sunset. Posted by Hello

For the life of me, I thought that this little guy was a penguin! Clearly, he's not, but he certainly did a good impression. Posted by Hello

Access to the beach was very limited due to the snow that was dumped on the Cape a week ago. We weren't able to get to any of the national seashore sites this year. Happily, though, we were able to navigate around the public beach. Posted by Hello

The Provincetown Art Association on Commercial Street has an impressive collection of work by local artists. For the past couple years, however, it's been kind of difficult to see the art due to construction. On Sunday, we wandered by and found that the sculpture garden was rooted up, save for this one Chaim Gross piece. It's called, I believe,"Mother and Daughter Posted by Hello

This is a saved parking space around the corner from my boss's house. Isn't the loggia/porte cochere snowbank construction a nice touch? Posted by Hello