Saturday, June 25, 2005

Peonies and Weeding


Weeding can be a spiritual exercize in the garden. You pull out the crabgrass and think about how deep the roots of wingnuttism might spread, you admire the spider's web and wonder where bin Laden lurks.

You are in control of the weeds, or so you might think if you are a silly wingnut. In truth, the weeds control you and one day they will cover your grave or ashes. So what weeding does is extract some temporary compensation for this final truth. It's also a nice escape from the world if you manage to set aside the political comparisons I started with and just let yourself see, hear, smell and touch.

Today I was weeding under the peonies and almost got drunk on the scent. There is no sexier flower on earth than a full-blown peony. It is heavy, fragile and unbearably scented, and at the end of the weeding session my hands carried the same perfume into the house and onto everything I touched.

Peony buds refuse to open for many days. They sit there, while the sun and the ants, seeking nectar, tickle and kiss the tightly closed petals. The waiting seems endless but then one morning they burst open: flowers so exotic, so soft and silky, so overdone that the only word for them is sexy. Even the way the flowers finally fall apart and cover the ground in a vast silky matt is inviting. I want to lie down under the peonies, I want to roll around on the ground like dogs do. I might even want to be buried under the peonies.

On Banning

I don't want to ban commenters from this blog carelessly. But I have decided to ban David for saying this:

here you fucking people UNDERMINING soldiers as they try to defeat terrorists. Your worries about some fucking asshole from afghanistan being questioned under sometimes extreme duress, you piss and moan about being fair yet you are never fair, you cry about fox news but love NPR and AirAmerica, you should all go to classes to perfect spitting and get your slogans in order, Just like mommie and daddie, and your idiot tattered animal house professor did during Viet Nam. Because as far as I am concerned and as far as the vast majority of troops are concerned you can all go straight to hell.

Maybe because it is ninety degrees today, but I don't see any redeeming value in this.

Friday, June 24, 2005

My Austrian Blinds


Someone wanted to see them. I should have arranged them for the photograph but I didn't. And you can also see the ceiling which I have not replaced yet, except to the extent of digging those scars wherever the cracks were.

Friday Embroidery Blogging

Our Choices?

Back by popular demand! Well, not quite. This is a political embroidery. The inspiration came to me while I was walking by one of those large store windows full of mannequins in the newest fashions. This is my take on that.

The technique is mainly straight and satin stitch.

Silly Jokes

Thanks to HMJ:

Word Play

1. Two antennas meet on a roof, fall in love and get married. The
ceremony wasn't much, but the reception was excellent.

2. Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar. One says, "I've lost my
electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies,
I'm positive..."

3. A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, "I'll serve
you, but don't start anything."

4. A sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry we don't
serve food in here."

5. A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

6. A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and
says:"A beer please, and one for the road."

7. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this
taste funny to you?"

8. "Doc, I can't stop singing 'The Green, Green Grass of Home. '"
"That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome." "Is it common?"
"It's Not

9. Two cows standing next to each other in a field. Daisy says to
Dolly, "I was artificially inseminated this morning." "I don't
you," said Dolly. "It's true, no bull!" exclaimed Daisy.

10. An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing
to look at either.

11. Deja Moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.

12. A man takes his Rottweiler to the vet and says, "My dog's
cross-eyed, is there any thing you can do for him?" "Well," says
vet, "let's have a look at him." So he picks the dog up and examines
his eyes. Finally, he says, "I'm going to have to put him down."
"What? Because he's cross-eyed?" "No, because he's really

13. Apparently, one in five people in the world are Chinese. And there
are five people in my family, so it must be one of them. It's either
my mom or my dad or maybe my older brother Calvin or my younger
brother Ho-Chin. But I'm pretty sure it's Calvin.

14. I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I
couldn't find any.

15. I went to the butcher's the other day to bet him 50 bucks that he
couldn't reach the meat off the top shelf. He said, "No, the steaks
are too high."

16. A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted,
"Doctor, doctor, I can't feel my legs!" The doctor replied, "I
you can't - I've cut off your arms!"

17. I went to a seafood disco last week and pulled a mussel.

18. Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly; but when they lit a
fire in the craft, it sank, proving that you can't have your kayak and
heat it too.

19. What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.

Prostitution and War

Listen to this:

You might not even notice the Manara nightclub if it weren't for the gradual flow of cars leading right to it. Just behind the Mosque of President Hafez Assad, the club's parking lot is crammed with cars, many bearing plates from neighboring gulf states. Inside, disco lights pierce the smoky air. Patrons pack the seats as they sip beer and lazily gaze at the dance floor. They watch teenage girls dressed in snug, revealing clothes awkwardly shuffling to thumping Arabic music. Many girls wear stilettos so steep they can barely walk. Some dance in pairs, often tightly pressed together, fingers entwined. Most seem bored and some, noticeably, are uneasy.

Male customers summon waitstaff to inquire about the availability and age of select girls. A Syrian journalist and I, posing as patrons, consult the staff ourselves. Farah, a 15-year-old, is brought to our table, dressed in camouflage pants and heavy makeup.

Farah sits, swings her long dark hair, shakes hands all around, then pointedly asks, "Who am I speaking to?" I'm taken aback by her businesslike tone and point to the Syrian reporter. Farah pleasantly chats with him, negotiating how much time she'll share, and if a "next step" will be taken. Farah locks eyes with the waiter, nods, and a bottle of champagne is brought to our table. "That'll be 7,000 Syrian pounds," says the waiter. That's $140. The champagne signals the beginning of the process. Conversation is next, and "anything else" will cost more.

As we empty our bottle of champagne, Farah tells us her story. Like most of the girls at the Manara disco, she is an Iraqi, a Sunni from Fallujah, one of Iraq's most war-torn areas. She got married in the United Arab Emirates, divorced four months afterward, and found work at the disco through a cousin. She says she's working "just to make some money for my family," who also now live in Syria. Farah says she's the family's breadwinner.

The story of a Sunni girl from Fallujah selling herself in a Damascus nightclub represents startling new fallout from the Iraq war, one human rights organizations and experts are only beginning to address. An increasing number of young Iraqi women and girls who fled Iraq during the turmoil are turning to prostitution in Syria, although there are no reliable statistics on how many girls are involved. That might partly explain why so little reporting has been done on the topic. For journalists and human rights workers, securing contact with Iraqi sex workers in Syria is difficult and dangerous because the topic is taboo.

"It's a serious problem because there are young girls doing this -- 11, 12, 13 years old," says Abdelhamid El Ouali, the representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees who's based in Damascus. "It's amazing at first. But when you fight for your life, what are you going to do?"

Read the whole thing, even if you have to sit through an advertisement. It's likely to give you shivers, of the not-so-nice kind.


Do you know what I'm tired of? The false dualism everywhere. It's really getting to me. Everything is good or evil, if you're not for us you're against us, if you're not "American" by agreeing to us in every single item you are "traitorous and anti-American". Then there is the unGodly accusations for those who are not literal Bible sniffers.

There are reasons for this way of acting, and they are many. It may be just an easy way for humans to think. It certainly contributes to anger and hatred and prepares us all for a civil war, and though nobody probably wants a civil war I have a feeling that Rove wants to keep us at the edge of it because that will keep him in power, with a little technical help. And false dualism is the answer one gives when attacked by another false dualistic snippet. But the dualism is still almost always wrong.

Take the debate about the Iraq war. I deeply believe that it was wrong to invade Iraq, especially because it was done on the basis of lies and at a time when we had a real enemy to focus on elsewhere. But this does NOT mean that I want the invasion to fail, that I want people to die in Iraq. And this is what I hear when I debate the issue on the many internets. Why is it so hard to expand the little thinking organ into something that can accept three or more alternatives simultaneously? Why is it so hard to accept evidence of all sorts before making up ones mind?

I spent years debating various political issues carefully, moderately, using all those rules about not alienating the opponent, about seeking common ground, about carefully proving my point. All I got for it was ridicule and scorn and lots of saliva sprayed in my face. That's one reason for this blog: the saliva doesn't carry. At first I thought that a blog would be a way of making my points somehow clearer but I soon learned that the form of presenting the arguments makes no difference. We are somehow mired in the world of false dualisms and if I want to participate I have to point out the errors in one extreme end point and root for the other.

To go back to the Iraq question: I didn't want a war there because it was based on false grounds yet real people died in it. - This, by the way, is one of the few cases where dualism is real: you kill or you don't - I also didn't want us to go there because theocracy is the only immediate alternative for those countries and theocracies are terrible torture devices for women and I care about stuff like that. But once we invaded Iraq and destroyed a lot of it we can't just drop it like a hot potato. We should leave as soon as possible, yes, but we should at least try to leave a relatively acceptable administration in place, one which can delay the onset of civil war a little.

Leaving is not the same as encouraging international terrorism. We encouraged that by going to Iraq in the first place, and it doesn't make much difference what we do next. If we leave they won. If we stay they won because we are colonial tyrants. So I wouldn't base that decision on the "war on terror". I'd base it on trying to kill any more people. That, in the long run, could be good against terrorism, too.

Ramblings, ramblings. It's Friday and I had a hard working week. My muse has taken off with his tattooed friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Today's Deep Troll Thought

From Eschaton (where else?):

I also would like to say that I think all you traitorous libs should be shipped to Gitmo and tortured until you die, and then cut up into tiny pieces and fed to the sharks.

I'm glad that the wingnuts are shocked at the hatred Durbin demonstrated. Hatred is so un-American...

The Prince

Macchiavelli's The Prince is supposedly bedtime reading for our administration (even Georgie???), so when Karl Rove makes an odd move we all are digging into our own copies to find out exactly what it presages. The current odd move is Rove's recent speech with this message:

Karl Rove came to the heart of Manhattan last night to rhapsodize about the decline of liberalism in politics, saying Democrats responded weakly to Sept. 11 and had placed American troops in greater danger by criticizing their actions.

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.

Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."

This is very odd, very old hat and imitative of such great orators as Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell and Pat Buchanan. Also, Rove gave almost exactly the same speech in early 2002. So why is he rehashing all this libural-hatred right now?

My answer to this question comes later in Rove's speech. He's trying to tie 9/11 to liberals and progressives, to make the equation terrorism=American left. You might not agree but consider that he said this:

Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

Nothing looks odd anymore. Rush Limbaugh was told to cover the topic first, to prepare the ditto market, and then Rove comes out and expresses the same hatred. This is all to do with the bottom ratings of the Bush administration. Whenever this happens the wingnuts look for an external enemy which can be used as a scapegoat, which can be used to redirect the anger of the population. And now the American left is an external enemy. We have come far in a few years of this administration.

As a footnote, Karl Rove just earned a place in the lowest level of Dante's hell. To politicize the 9/11 slaughters in this way is so vile, so unspeakably vile that none of Rove's earlier truly egregious acts comes anywhere close. Did he stand for hours with a photograph pressed against his chest, asking bypassers for any news of a loved one? Did he haunt hospitals for days on end, desperately looking for one specific name? Did he gather together hair from hairbrushes to send in for DNA matching?

If everything didn't come back threefold I'd send Rove something to take his mind off politics for the next century or so.

Freeway Blogging

Freewayblogger is a one person hit squad, doing battle for the freedom of expression. You might enjoy the most recent war story:

Hello all... the first pic shows what happens when you keep taking down my signs and then replace them with a lame,inkjetted "support our troops" sign.

The 2nd pic shows the cops that saw me putting up the sign, and yes, did want to speak to me. They asked me what it said and when I told them one replied, "Probably be a lot more too." and that was it. No hassles, no lectures, no ID check. They didn't even ask me to take it down. In fact, the sign stayed up for three days. Man I love San Francisco.

My favorite is this one:

Who Is Getting Caught in the Flypaper of Iraq?

According to MSNBC, most foreign fighters on the insurgents' side come from Saudi Arabia. This is not surprising, not surprising at all. What should be surprising is the fact that the Bush administration pretends great friendship with Saudi Arabia. Yet the majority of the 9/11 suicide terrorists were Saudis and it is the Saudi form of islam, Wahhabism, that is the main breeding ground of muslim terrorism. Contrast our friendship with the fundamentalist Saudis to our invasion of Iraq, a country that used to be secular. Mindboggling, isn't it?

The MSNBC article asks why so many Saudis choose terrorism and answers it with explanations that are more like triggers than real reasons:

Why do they go?

Saudis captured in Iraq say it's because of pictures on Arab television network Al-Jazeera.

"We saw the Americans massacring the Iraqis," says one Saudi prisoner in Iraq via translation.

Radical Saudi clerics urge them to go to Iraq to kill Americans.

"I read the communique of the 26 clerics," says another Saudi prisoner in Iraq.

The underlying real reasons have to do with the unequal distribution of wealth in Saudi Arabia, with the thirty percent unemployment rate, with the lack of any real democracy and with the school system which resembles one gigantic madrasa for all students, with lots of religion and very little of anything that would be valued in the job markets. I suspect that the anger of the population is channeled towards the west, at least partly in order to protect the Saudi royals from becoming the obvious targets.

What is going to happen to all the terrorists that manage to avoid Bush's sticky papertraps? Who knows? But the likelihood is high that they will not calmly return home and resume peaceful lives. In fact, they might well reappear in places closer to our homes:

The war in Iraq is creating a new breed of Islamic jihadists who could go on to destabilise other countries, according to a CIA report.

The CIA believes Iraq to be potentially worse than Afghanistan, which produced thousands of jihadists in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of the recruits to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida had fought in Afghanistan.

Mission accomplished, Mr. Bush?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No Hand Shaking With Women

The Associated Press reports that the prime minister of Iraq doesn't shake hands with women:

Photographers didn't have much luck getting pictures of Iraq's prime minister shaking hands with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, even though the United States was co-hosting an international conference on rebuilding Iraq.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari met with Rice for about 15 minutes Tuesday at a downtown Brussels hotel and again at a working dinner Wednesday hosted by the European Union.

However, al-Jaafari -- a conservative Shiite cleric -- is rarely seen shaking hands with women. Islam calls for separation between the sexes, and many Muslim males who strictly adhere to the Islamic faith do not shake hand with females.

One photo shows EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner offering her hand to al-Jaafari -- and the Iraqi prime minister smiling, but with his arms firmly at his side.

A literal interpretation of religion, one which to me confuses the intent (to avoid extramarital sex and so on) with the letter. But also one which reminds us that the forces of democracy in Iraq might not offer very much for women. Not that shaking hands is that important, but the segregation of sexes bit is. For it will not mean some sort of a world with two parallel yet separate public spaces and two parallel yet separate governments. It will mean a world where the women are largely restricted to their homes and where women will not have the same rights and powers as men do.

Molly Explains It

Molly Ivins is not only an excellent writer. She also has this ability to cut through a complicated subject like a hot knife through butter. Suddenly it's all clear and easy to understand. It's not a common talent and she should get more exposure than she's getting right now.

For an example of Molly's skill, read her take on the media and the Downing Street memos. To whet your appetite, this is how she finishes:

I don't know if these memos represent an impeachable offense -- although I must say, I don't want to bring up the Clinton comparison again. But they strike me as a hell of lot worse than anything Richard Nixon ever contemplated. He used the government for petty political vindictiveness. Heck, I'd settle for that again, over what we're looking at now.

The irony of Deep Throat surfacing after all these years in the midst of this memo mess is almost too precious. Does The Washington Post have any hungry young reporters on Metro anymore? I'd say, start with: Who did Dearlove meet with besides George Tenet?

Some Really Stupid Research by Echidne

It went like this:

Hmm. Fudge used to give me migraines. I wonder if it still does. Let's take a tiny piece and test. Mmmmm. No migraine yet. Maybe another tiny piece. Gulp. Delicious.

No migraine. This fudge is really good. Here is a large chunk, just waiting for my ivory snappers. Sooooo gooood.
No fudge left.
Migraine. Flashing lights. Nausea.

Houston: The New Iraq

Tom deLay thinks so:

From the "What Planet Is He On?" department, Tom DeLay has weighed in on how things really are in Iraq. And it turns out that Iraq is like ... Iraq is like ... well, it turns out that Iraq is a lot like Texas, actually.

"You know, if Houston, Texas, was held to the same standard as Iraq is held to, nobody'd go to Houston, because all this reporting coming out of the local press in Houston [would be about] violence, murders, robberies, deaths on the highways," DeLay says in an interview reported in today's Houston Chronicle. It's the media's fault, of course. People should just go to Iraq, DeLay says, and they'd see what's really happening there. "Everybody that comes from Iraq is amazed at the difference of what they see on the ground and what they see on the television."

I've never been to Houston but I doubt that twenty people have recently been blown to smithereens in a restaurant there or that roadside bombs are everyday events. I also suspect that people in Houston have electricity and water all the time. And if there is a war going on in Houston, Texas, the media really fucked up because I have heard nothing about it.

This story is like that old one about New York City being as dangerous as being a soldier in Iraq. If all this was true wouldn't you expect the wingnut politicians to enlist in large numbers, especially those from places like Houston?

Smarter politicians, please! From both sides of the aisle, actually. My job of ridicule is far too easy these days.

On Fetal Positions

Media Matters for America reports that Bill O'Reilly doesn't think being chained to the fetal position is all that bad:

REILLY: Well, I mean, you're telling the world, senator, that we're a repressive country because you don't like coerced interrogation. Now, the FBI report, for those of you whom missed it, centered around a detainee who was chained to the floor in the fetal position. You know what the fetal position is -- that's not an uncomfortable position. Most of us sleep in a fetal position. OK? So picture the fetal position, most of us sleep that way. But the guy's chained. Now he can't move, he's down there.

Then they either make the room unbearably hot or unbearably cold. And they keep the guy there for 24 to 36 hours in that position, so they can't go to the bathroom. OK? So that's what the FBI guy reported. That's what's got Durbin conjuring up images of Pol Pot, Hitler, and Stalin. So you make the call, you make the call. It's up to you. I'm not gonna tell you what to think.

Most of us like to each lunch, too. But it would be slightly different if we were chained to the plate and forced to go on having lunch for a few weeks. Without any bathroom breaks.

I'm annoyed at all the wingnut furor about Durbin's comments. It's the wingnuts who have monopolized the nazi terminology for the last ten years. Just google "Hitlery", for example. In fact, most of these types of comparisons have been made by right-wing commentators. I have a post about it somewhere in the archives which contains actual numbers and stuff. I should dig it up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005



Something beautiful for you to see today, from Australia, courtesy of Helga Fremlin.

What is a Mission?

What is the U.S. mission in Iraq? Think Progress notes that it has been redefined every few months, from the early one of ridding the country of WMDs to being completed to not being completed, after all, to being the creation of free Iraq to completing some mission, whatever it might be, for the sake of world peace.

I sometimes write that way, too, when things are not going smoothly and the story veers away from the topic. Then I change the title and pretend that I had another topic in mind all along. But the government shouldn't have the same freedom in doing this as an anonymous unpaid blogger. There are missions and then there are missions. The lives of people depend on how the Bush government defines its mission. I wish they would decide on one definition and stick to it.

It's Our Fault

Everything is. But especially any future terrorist attack on the United States. That's how powerful we are, the lefties. So Rush Limbaugh said a few days ago:

LIMBAUGH: Let me tell you something, folks, if we are hit again, if we are hit again, we need to hold these people in our country who are undermining our efforts responsible. It ain't going to be the FBI's fault next time. It isn't going to be the CIA's fault next time. It isn't going to be some bureaucracy's fault next time. It's going to be the fault of politicians, left-wing groups and the like who have names and identities and spend their every waking moment trying to obstruct our ability to secure intelligence information for our own national security.

You want some names: [Sen. Patrick] Leahy [D-VT], [Sen. Joseph R.] Biden [D-DE], [Sen. Richard J.] Durbin [D-IL], [Sen. Barbara] Boxer [D-CA], [Sen. Edward] Kennedy [D-MA], [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV], Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, Amnesty International. If we get hit again, these are the names of the people and organizations we need to look at when we're trying to find out why and how it happened.

This makes planning the future much easier. All the government needs to do is to intern us and the country will be safe! The real enemy has finally been revealed and the wingnuts can sleep safe in their little cots.

Which troll was it who recently foamed about how liberals hate everybody in this country? Sounds to me like it's the Limbaugh types who have some serious issues with misplaced hatred.

Sounds to me also like it might be Limbaugh himself who is stoking the flames of terrorism in the Middle East:

LIMBAUGH: Club G'itmo and our brochure at now features two T-shirts, ladies and gentlemen. We put them on sale yesterday, and they are going like hotcakes. They're a reddish-orange t-shirt and you can buy one or you can buy both. One of them says, "Club G'itmo" on the front and then on the back, "Your Tropical Retreat From the Stress of Jihad."

The other one says, "Club G'itmo" on the front, and on the back it says, "My Mullah Went to Club Gitmo and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt." They're both $19.95. They come in sizes small up to double-X, and we're also still checking on prices to come up with Club G'itmo bathrobes and soap on a rope or just soap. Club G'itmo, whichever, and we've also added the fact that kids might want to be sent down to Club G'itmo, except Americans, because American kids are not allowed to pray in school or anything else. It's a great place for young jihadists to go and take a break from their training.

Truth. What Truth?

Truth is relative in the wingnut world, which is funny as it's us who are usually blamed for relativism of all types. But it's the wingnuts who view facts as just one more of those pesky things which hate America.

The most recent proof of this comes from some gentle rewriting that happened to a Bureau of Land Management report on the environmental impact of cattle grazing on public land. The Bush administration wants cattle to graze on such land, even though they are normally free-marketeers, but the report pointed out that easing limits on cattle grazing would damage both wildlife and the quality of water. These bits were edited out from the final report:

Last week, the Bureau of Land Management made it easier to graze cattle on public land, despite objections from its own scientists. Grazing cattle can denude the West's arid lands, a special concern given the recent drought in the region. Two BLM scientists -- a biologist and a hydrologist, both of whom recently retired from the bureau -- predicted that easing limits on cattle grazing would hurt wildlife and water quality. But their objections were edited out of a BLM report. Who needs to trouble with dissent when you can just delete it?

"This is a whitewash. They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees," Erick Campbell, a former BLM state biologist in Nevada told the Los Angeles Times. "They rewrote everything," Campbell said. "It's a crime."

Campbell retired recently after 30 years at the agency. Here's more on how he was thanked for his years of service: "The original draft of the environmental analysis warned that the new rules would have a 'significant adverse impact' on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau now concludes that the grazing regulations are 'beneficial to animals,'" the Times reported.

Maybe these scientists made arguments which would not ultimately hold, or maybe not. In either case, why aren't the readers of the report allowed to judge that?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Skippy Will Be Three Years Old!

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, a weird (in a good way) nonhuman blogger, is coming for the third birthday of the blog, and is approaching one million hits. If you click on this link you can help him achieve the goal of his life which is to hit both important events at the exact same point in time. Well, I made the "goal-of-his-life" stuff up but I'm trying to make you click on the link. Because that's how empty my life is.

And he is a nice guy and a good blogger, and I expect the same care and attention when I turn two.

Research Findings

After the interesting discussion on women as consumers of porn on the comments thread of this blog I went to the library and got out a few books mentioned in those threads as containing soft porn or erotica for women. Think of what I do in order to serve the gods and goddesses of research.

Yesterday I slaved over these books. Here is an excerpt from Laurell K. Hamilton's A Caress of Twilight:

His hands found my body, spilling my breasts bare to the wind. He drew his lips back from mine and lowered his face to my breasts, taking first one and then the other into his mouth, rolling the nipples in the warmth, spilling power.

It gets considerably more heated and more explicit. The heroine of the book is a half-elf who has to mate with as many elves as possible! She has an alphabetical rotation of lovers, sometimes more than one during the night. She also appears to have an insatiable appetite for sex and no menstrual cycle but such details are understandable in the heat and spilling warmth stuff.

Things do get a little repetitive. How many different ways can you combine six or seven elves and one half-elf? This is a problem in permutations but let's not go there.

I'm not sure if this book would qualify as soft porn for women, or erotica, or neither. It has other things happening in addition to sex though not many. I'm also not sure what the meaning of books like this is, except that there indeed seems to be a thriving market for the description of sex from the woman's point of view.

And Still, In Pakistan

The tale of great courage and cowardice continues. On the side of courage is Mukhtaran Bibi, on the other side the government of Pakistan:

Let me back up. Ms. Mukhtaran is the indomitable peasant whom I first wrote about in September after visiting her in her village. Three years ago, a village council was upset at her brother, and sentenced her to be gang-raped. After four men raped her, she was forced to walk home nearly naked before a jeering crowd.

She then defied tradition by testifying against her attackers, sending them to prison, and she used compensation money to start elementary schools in her village. She herself is now enrolled in the fourth grade; a measure of her passion for education is that the day after the government released her, she was back in class.

Ms. Mukhtaran is using donations (through to start an ambulance service and a women's shelter, and she is also campaigning against honor killings, rapes and acid attacks that disfigure women. But President Musharraf, defensive about Pakistan's image, regards brutality as something to cover up rather than uproot.

So when Pakistani officials learned that Ms. Mukhtaran planned to visit the U.S. this month, they detained her and apparently tried to intimidate her by ordering the release of those convicted for her rape. This wasn't a mistake by low-level officials.

Mr. Musharraf admitted to reporters on Friday that he had ordered Ms. Mukhtaran placed on the blacklist. And although Pakistan had claimed that Ms. Mukhtaran had decided on her own not to go to the U.S. because her mother was sick (actually, she wasn't), the president in effect acknowledged that that was one more lie. "She was told not to go" to the U.S., Mr. Musharraf said, according to The Associated Press.

"I don't want to project a bad image of Pakistan." he explained.

I sympathize. From Karachi to the Khyber Pass, Pakistan is one of the most hospitable countries I've ever visited. So, President Musharraf, if you want to improve Pakistan's image, here's some advice: just prosecute rapists with the same zeal with which you persecute rape victims.

Ms. Mukhtaran says she can't talk about what happened after the government kidnapped her. But this is what seems to have unfolded: In Islamabad, government officials ferociously berated her for being unpatriotic and warned that they could punish her family and friends. In particular, they threatened to have the father of a friend fired from his job.

Why am I going on about this case, especially as I have nothing to add to what is said by those better informed? Because in microcosm it is a story of any one individual fighting an unfair system. Because Ms. Mukhtaran indeed rises to the level of a hero and heroine, reflecting the best aspects of each of these terms: bravery and endurance. And because the whole case demonstrates how and why women's rights are not of great priority in so many places on this earth: they are awkward reminders that not all tradition is good, they demand rights for those who traditionally are idolized as not wanting any, and the society does need to change for such rights to exist.

What Am I Thinking?

AFP/Paul J. Richards
Via derenegade.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


President George Bush said this in his weekly radio address:

We went to war because we were attacked, and we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens. Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror.

I can barely type this shit in; it makes me so furious.

"We went to war because we were attacked,"

Yes, you did. But you went to war against people other than those who attacked us.

"we are at war today because there are still people out there who want to harm our country and hurt our citizens."

At war in the wrong place and against the wrong enemy. And we are still there because you goofed up magnificently, Mr. Bush. Most of the people who want to harm this country are fairly free to continue with their evil plots while we are mired down in Iraq.

"Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror."

This would be funny if it was published in something else than the weekly radio address of the most powerful man on earth. As it is, I weep. Bush is admitting that he has caused the terrorists to congregate in Iraq. He created a problem, and now we all must pay for it. The "flypaper" theory is disgusting, unethical and just plain wrong. You don't get rid of terrorists by siccing them onto some innocent neighbor and then bombing both the terrorists and the neighbor to smithereens. Or if you do this your other neighbors will hate your guts forevermore and they are right to do so.

Porter Goss Knows Where Osama Is

He boasts of this knowledge in a silly interview with Time:

WHEN WILL WE GET OSAMA BIN LADEN? That is a question that goes far deeper than you know. In the chain that you need to successfully wrap up the war on terror, we have some weak links. And I find that until we strengthen all the links, we're probably not going to be able to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice. We are making very good progress on it. But when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play. We have to find a way to work in a conventional world in unconventional ways that are acceptable to the international community.

IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA OF WHERE HE IS. WHERE? I have an excellent idea of where he is. What's the next question?

I thought we already found an unconventional way of coping with those awkward international obligations. It's called pre-emptive war, though so far it hasn't been used against Al Qaeida.

The whole bin Laden question drives me nuts. Yes, he's just a symbol, and catching him would not kill the organization. But to ignore him so completely? He is a symbol for the other side, too, you know, and right now it looks like bin Laden is invincible.

Porter Goss says this about Iraq in the same interview:

COULD THE U.S. GO TO WAR AGAIN BASED ON FALSE INTELLIGENCE? I would not agree to surmise that America has gone to war based on false intelligence. I would say that the right question is: Should America be checking out threats to America? The answer is yes. And will we find some threats were more talk than real? Yes, we will.

Goss has been taking speech lessons from Rumsfeld. This doesn't hide the fact that he thinks facts are checked by riding roughshod over people who are most likely totally innocent. A drastic way of finding that a threat was just talk.

Happy Fathers' Day!

May you all get something else than ties today. May you all survive the teenage of your children and one day find revenge by becoming ornery old coots.