19 November 2006

Stoned to death for adultery... in 2006

This story is nowhere to be found in the US press... which kind of stuns me, with the Islamophobia in this country.
Una vedova saudita, sei anni dopo la morte del marito, partorisce un figlio. Non essendo sposata, la donna ha "portato avanti una gravidanza illegittima": per la Shariyah islamica si tratta di adulterio.
In short, for you English-only folks: a Saudi widow had a baby, and since she was not married, she must be an adulteress. QED. By Sharia law, the punishment for adultery is death by stoning.
If this shit was happening in Iran, damn sure it would be on the cover of the New York Times. But the Saudis are George Bush's BFF, so it gets the silent treatment?

15 November 2006

"By the light of a burning bridge"

I share some of the feelings of this writer, who permanently emigrated to Venezuela from the US. I am not as convinced as he is that the "Rubicon" has yet been crossed... but I do acknowledge that it could happen quickly.

In their silence and acquiescence Americans have voted –- even if by abstention –- to stand on the shoulders of all drowning peoples in the vain hope that they will somehow be saved from a paradigm which they support and empower by obeying it; by endorsing it with their silence or knowingly impotent protests; by refusing to throw themselves against the gears of the machine. In this world, a protest which is allowed and encouraged, corralled into free-speech areas, and then policed by the ruling government only to be ignored by the media is, by definition, meaningless.

The US is a nation where the “non-negotiable” and unsustainable “American” way of life is propped up by global conflict, out-of-control military spending, massive and unsustainable debt, and an increasingly-aggressive fascist police state. It is a nation where all US citizens who do not resist and disconnect from this paradigm enjoy their ever-diminishing privileges with the guilty knowledge that somewhere else, hopefully in some “other” country, others are paying the price for it.

The world is now my country.

Ugh. I wish I could hurry my FOIA request along somehow.

14 November 2006

"Così la prof ci ha coinvolto nel gioco erotico"

LOL.

My favourite part of the "tale of the Porno Prof" is where they say the supposedly abused boys 'si sentono un po' gli eroi del paese.'

That's Italia!

13 November 2006

The one-state solution

Something I have been saying and thinking for a while: one state in Israel-Palestine, with rights and protections for all... expressed much better than I ever could

South Africa seen as model for Palestine

By Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American, and the author of "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
November 12, 2006

As I watched the images last week of destruction from the Gaza Strip, where an Israeli shelling attack had killed an entire family, as a Palestinian I could understand the feelings of one survivor who said, "I cannot see a day when we will live in peace with them." But I also know there is no other choice.

When Israel was established, its founders said it would be an exemplary, moral state. For many Jews, it seemed like a miraculous redemption after so much suffering and loss in the Nazi Holocaust.

Palestinians experienced a different reality. Israel became a "Jewish state" in a country that had always been multicultural and multireligious. The expulsion and exclusion of Palestinians from their own homeland has led Israelis and Palestinians into an endless nightmare of mutual non-recognition and bloodshed.

For decades, the conventional wisdom has been that this conflict can only be resolved by partitioning the country into two states. Yet despite enormous political and diplomatic efforts to achieve this, the two peoples remain thoroughly if unhappily intertwined. Israel's project of establishing settler-colonies inside the territories where Palestinians wanted to create a state has rendered separation impossible.

At the same time, Israel finds itself in a conundrum. For the first time since the state was founded, Israeli Jews no longer form an absolute majority in the territory they control. Today there are roughly 5 million Jews and 5 million Palestinians living in the same land. The trends are incontestable. Within a few years, Palestinians will form the clear majority.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recognized in 2003 what this would mean: "We are approaching the point where more and more Palestinians will say, `There is no place for two states,'" in this country, and "`All we want is the right to vote.' The day they get it, we will lose everything." Warning that Israel could not remain both a Jewish state and a democracy if it held on to all of the occupied Palestinian territories, Olmert added, "I shudder to think that liberal Jewish organizations that shouldered the burden of struggle against apartheid, will lead the struggle against us."

Some Israeli extremists, like the new Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, believe this "demographic problem" can be solved by expelling non-Jews. Israel's chosen solution, which it calls "unilateral separation," walls Palestinians into impoverished ghettos Palestinians compare to the townships and Bantustans set up for blacks by the apartheid government of South Africa. The result of this approach, as we see in Gaza, is more hopelessness, resistance and defiance, and sure disaster for both peoples.

The two-state solution remains attractive and comforting in its apparent simplicity and finality. But in reality, it has proved unattainable because neither Palestinians nor Israelis are willing to give up enough of the country that they love. Faced with this impasse, a small but growing group of Israelis and Palestinians are tentatively exploring an old idea long dormant: Why not have a single state in which both peoples enjoy equal rights and protections and religious freedom? Many people dismiss this as utopian dreaming.

Allister Sparks, the legendary editor of the anti-apartheid Rand Daily Mail newspaper, observed that the conflict in South Africa most resembled those in Northern Ireland and Palestine-Israel, because each involved "two ethno-nationalisms" in a seemingly irreconcilable rivalry for the "same piece of territory." If the prospect of "one secular country shared by all" seems "unthinkable" in Palestine-Israel today, then it is possible to appreciate how unlikely such a solution once seemed in South Africa. But "that is what we did," Sparks says, "without any foreign negotiator [and] no handshakes on the White House lawn."

To be sure, Palestinians and Israelis would not simply be able to take the new South Africa as a blueprint. They would have to work out their own distinct constitution, including mechanisms for ethnic communities to have autonomy in matters that concern them, and to guarantee that no one group can dominate another. There would be hard work to heal the terrible wounds of the past. Such a solution offers the chance that Palestine-Israel could become for the first time ever the truly safe home where Israelis and Palestinians can accept each other. It may be an arduous path, but in the current impasse we cannot afford to ignore any ray of light.

04 November 2006

Real child abuse

I am under the effects of some weird chronic fatigue shit. Been feeling beat ever since I had a wicked asthma attack brought on by the Esperanza fire.

For now, I'm going to pass something along a propos of all this "Pastor Ted" drama. I have been increasingly drawn to cranky old Richard Dawkins, whose anti-religious views are far less controversial in Sane Europe than here. Courtesy of the always-impressive Arthur Silber, here's a quote... Dawkins writes:
I am persuaded that the phrase 'child abuse' is no exaggeration when used to describe what teachers and priests are doing to children whom they encourage to believe in something like the punishment of unshriven mortal sins in an eternal hell.

In the television documentary Root of All Evil? to which I have already referred, I interviewed a number of religious leaders and was criticized for picking on American extremists rather than respectable mainstreamers like archbishops. It sounds like a fair criticism -- except that, in early 21st-century America, what seems extreme to the outside world is actually mainstream. One of my interviewees who most appalled the British television audience, for example, was Pastor Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs. But, far from being extreme in Bush's America, 'Pastor Ted' is president of the thirty-million-strong National Association of Evangelicals, and he claims to be favoured with a telephone consultation with President Bush every Monday. If I had wanted to interview real extremists by modern American standards, I'd have gone for 'Reconstructionists' whose 'Dominion Theology' openly advocates a Christian theocracy in America.

...

Another of my television interviewees was Pastor Keenan Roberts, from the same state of Colorado as Pastor Ted. Pastor Roberts's particular brand of nuttiness takes the form of what he calls Hell Houses. A Hell House is a place where children are brought, by their parents or their Christian schools, to be scared witless over what might happen to them after they die. Actors play out fearsome tableaux of particular 'sins' like abortion and homosexuality, with a scarlet-clad devil in gloating attendance. These are a prelude to the piece de resistance, Hell Itself, complete with realistic sulphurous smell of burning brimstone and the agonized screams of the forever damned.

After watching a rehearsal, in which the devil was suitably diabolical in the hammed-up style of a villain of Victorian melodrama, I interviewed Pastor Roberts in the presence of his cast. He told me that the optimum age for a child to visit a Hell House is twelve. This shocked me somewhat, and I asked him whether it would worry him if a twelve-year-old child had nightmares after one of his performances. He replied, presumably honestly:
I would rather for them to understand that Hell is a place that they absolutely do not want to go. I would rather reach them with that message at twelve than to not reach them with that message and have them live a life of sin and to never find the Lord Jesus Christ. And if they end up having nightmares, as a result of experiencing this, I think there's a higher good that would ultimately be achieved and accomplished in their life than simply having nightmares.
I suppose that, if you really and truly believed what Pastor Roberts says he believes, you would feel it right to intimidate children too.

We cannot write off Pastor Roberts as an extremist wingnut. Like Ted Haggard, he is mainstream in today's America.

And I agree with Arthur that calling this child abuse is understating the matter. To bring it full circle... one of the reasons I am going dual is because of my fear of the America these kids will build. More soon...

02 November 2006

23 October 2006

K, he's got my vote

Seems some fundy-mental-ists think that Barack Obama is the Antichrist foretold in prophecy. Now I want to vote for him just to rile them up:
Very charming isn't he? Raised in a Moslem world, (Indonesia) with protestant upbringing..I'm watching him. I'm always aware when Republicans and Democates, and Independants, far left, far right, think this man is the cat's meow. They never agree on anything.

[...]

Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, born in Hawaii, raised in Chicago, was a little known Illinois state senator as recently as last year.

Now he's the states Democratic US Senate canidate, He will win, because now he is unopposed. I am watching everyone very carefully, especially since this chip is on the horizon, which I believe is connected with the mark.

The antichrist is not going to come in with devil horns on his head, and make an announcement...Hello all. I am the expected antichrist!!! I can see how people are going to be fooled when the AC does show up. He is going to be a charismatic fellow, with all of the answers for the worlds woes. Why not start in the US, since I believe that is where he is going to rise out of?? "who referred to Obama as a man who can help heal the division in our nation". Only God can HEAL our nations divisions!!!

[...]

Yes, it is uncanny the way that people are flocking to him. He has an eerie magnetism. I watched his speech, and I was almost spellbound. He said ALL of the right things. Even the tv commentators said that they had never heard such a good speech at a convention before. I'm going with my gut on this one. My sister and I both feel something "spooky" about this guy, but can't quite figure out what it is. It is odd that strangers come up to him on the street. Why would they do that, unless they were drawn to him.

You are right GodSaves, we are supposed to watch, and those that do not, aren't very bright to say the least. Jesus didn't give us His word with all of the information in it for no apparent reason...Grace.

[...]

Oh, I can see that part of the "big story". That has nothing to do with his "drawing power" with EVERYONE, even with us "whities" so to speak. When the whites start accepting a black man over a white man, and the white man has a great political career, then that is either a miracle from God, or the part of a bigger plan. Mans bigotry will never change as long as we are on this earth!!! This white man who had a great career in politics, is SUDDENLY shamed by a scandal. I think it was part of the bigger picture, so Obama will be the shew in for the Senate. By his demeanor alone, that tells me that it is a spirit of deception that this guy is operating under.

[...]

Let's just say for a moment that there was a powerfull man right now waiting in the wings to bring peace to the middle East.Let's say for a moment that I believe that a man will come.He would have to have a very great persuation on American christians and the Jews in order for the next temple to be built.

Jean Marie lestinger is a Jewish priest next in line for the Papacy.From what I've read that he has wrote,he is anxious to let the Jews have their Temple,A very Powerfull charasmatic man,A very likable man.

Just a thought,Isn't it funny also that Kerry has now found out that he comes from jewish fathers,just like Madaline Allbright found out.

I don't know if it means anuthing but it's interesting.Just like that Israelie astronaunt that died over Palistine Taxas,that Teacher in the explosion before that was Jewish also.Like 1 died trying to make it to heaven and the next died coming back from heaven in Palistine.

[...]

He may be an antichrist, if he speaks against Christ. But is he THE antichrist? find out if hes jewish or not.

[...]

I just found a post on Obamas website from a Jewish girl. Barak (different spelling) means "lightening" in Hebrew. Luke 10:18 ~ And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
I didn't even like Senator Tuvok all that much until now...

19 October 2006

I'm Calabrese!

I was not expecting Roma to lose to Reggina last weekend, but I wasn’t all that pissed off… Reggina’s not a bad side, calciopoli notwithstanding. Which is a good thing because… apparently they are my home team!

I just learned from a relative that my maternal grandmother came over through Ellis Island. I knew they had really good records, so I went on the website (excellent resource by the way) and was able to pull up the passenger manifest. There was a ton of information there, including the town my ancestors came from. I was surprised and pleased to learn that my people are Calabrese, as I’ve always been sort of drawn to that part of Italy. My grandmother was born in Palmi in 1898, and they left in 1905 (right before the disastrous earthquake in 1908).

So now I have two paths to follow for my citizenship. My aunt is pretty sure that my grandmother didn’t get her citizenship until after 1939, which works out perfectly as my father was born in 1934. So I sent away for her estratto dell’atto di nascita and am going to submit a FOIA request for her C-records as well.

I’m excited!

17 October 2006

De-humanisation of a generation

One of my big fears before the war was the effect it would have on the hundreds of thousands of young Americans. This video shows that effect: complete and utter de-humanisation and a descent into barbarism.

This is happening now, and will keep happening for years. This is not Vietnam: "eighteen months and a wake-up." These people are being systematically brutalised psychologically, over three and four long tours of duty. When they eventually come home for good, how will they be able to re-integrate? What will happen to them?

And what will happen to America?



UPDATE: soon after I posted this video, it was removed from YouTube and the website www.theinvisibleamerican.com stopped responding.

I am very freaked out about this.

16 October 2006

Liberal = Lucifer?

Am I crazy to think that we cannot share a nation with people like this?

15 October 2006

RIP Baldemar Huerta

He was born Baldemar Huerta and had his first measure of success as El Be-Bop Kid, doing Spanish covers of rock 'n' roll hits in the late 1950s. But it was as Freddy Fender, the name he took in 1959 to more easily cross over to Anglo audiences, that the bilingual crooner from San Benito will be forever known.

When Fender became a national sensation with 1975's "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" topping both the pop and country charts, the Rio Grande Valley rejoiced that one of its own could go so far from the migrant fields of his youth.

OnSaturday the Valley lost its voice, as Fender, 69, succumbed to cancer at his Corpus Christi home with his family at his bedside, said a family spokesman. Fender was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in January, when doctors found 11 tumors.

Fender's delayed rise to the top had strong ties to Austin. In the late '60s, after a three-year stint in prison for marijuana possession, Fender had returned to the Valley with his dreams of breakout success broken. He got a job as an auto mechanic and took classes at a community college. But then he heard his name in a song. When Doug Sahm recorded "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" on his 1971 roots project "The Return of Doug Saldana," the track opened with a salute to the man who wrote it. "And now a song by the great Freddy Fender," Sahm said, his voice drenched in echo. "Freddy, this is for you, wherever you are."

When word got back to Fender that his old records were hip in Austin, he got in touch with Sahm, his future co-star in the '90s Tex-Mex supergroup Texas Tornados, and got booked at the Soap Creek Saloon off Bee Cave Road. When Fender arrived to see a group of longhairs in cowboy hats outside passing joints, he was apprehensive. But the show was a raucous sellout, the crowd swaying to his swamp pop "triplets" and stomping to his Chicano R&B, and Fender's musical dreams were rejuvenated.

Fender also reconnected in the mid 1970s with Houston producer Huey P. Meaux, who signed him to his Crazy Cajun label. Although Fender and Meaux originally intended to make an R&B album, the producer had found a country song that was perfect for Fender's delicate, quavering vocal style.

"I don't want nothing to do with country," Fender said when he heard a demo of "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." But after about half an hour of arm-twisting, Meaux persuaded Fender to cut it.

The single was released in January '75 and shot up the country charts, staying at No. 1 for two weeks before crossing over to the pop charts. The follow-up, a re-recording of 1959's "Wasted Days," also landed at No. 1 on the Billboard country singles chart and reached No. 8 on the pop chart.

Suddenly, the Latino ex-con was the hottest "new" singer in the country. Billboard named him 1975's male vocalist of the year. "Teardrop" was also given single of the year honors by the Country Music Association.

His recasting as a country balladeer was one of several events in a career that has taken Fender from the cantinas to the casinos, county fairs to European festivals, from the slammer to the Grammys.

"He was a pretty humble guy considering he was such a singing legend," said Austin drummer Ernie Durawa, who backed the Texas Tornados, who also included Augie Meyer and Flaco Jimenez, from 1990 until Sahm's death in 1999. "He was always joking. Like when they gave him the key to the city in Fresno, he asked if it could open the jail."

He had won three Grammy Awards, but Fender told the American-Statesman in 2004 that his proudest achievement was being named in the book "Above and Beyond" as one of the Top 100 former Marines who've conquered civilian life. Fender said he was going to buy a copy for every drill sergeant who kicked his rear end. Fender was also honored when his likeness was painted on the water tower in San Benito, proudly proclaiming itself to be "The Home of Freddy Fender."

Fender performed a career retrospective show "Freddy Fender: 50 Years Of Music," at the Paramount Theatre in April 2004, just three months after undergoing a liver transplant. Two years earlier, he received a kidney from his daughter.

"I'm not one to think like 'poor me,' " Fender said in 2004. "I've always accepted the ups and downs. Maybe I've had to start all over again a few times, but at least I'm not an old cup of stale coffee. I've had a few refills."

He didn't become a national star until he was 38, but Fender grew up fast. As a child he labored beside his migrant worker parents in the cotton fields of Arkansas and the beet farms of Michigan. Back in San Benito during the winter months, he'd sit outside Pancho Dalvin's grocery store, plucking a backless, three-string guitar.

At age 10, he made his first radio appearance, singing "Paloma Querida" on KGBS in Harlingen. Figuring the barracks beat the barrio, Fender joined the Marines at age 16 and came out three years later with dreams of becoming the first Chicano rock 'n' roll star. His specialty was putting the big hits of the day to Spanish lyrics, and he had a hit in Mexico and South America in 1957 with "No Seas Cruel," his version of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel."

When he signed to Imperial Records, the home of Fats Domino, in 1959, he became "Freddy Fender" after his favorite guitar. "Just think," he told an interviewer years later, "if I had been playing a Yamaha guitar, I'd be the No. 1 act in Tokyo."

While out on tour in May 1960, Fender was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in Baton Rouge, La., and sentenced to five years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. After serving three years, Fender spent a couple years singing R&B in the bars of New Orleans, often bumping into the similarly life-hardened balladeer Aaron Neville. Afraid his New Orleans partying would land him in prison again, Fender returned to San Benito in the late '60s and sang in bars on weekends.

The nightclub lifestyle continued to have its grip on Fender, and in 1985 his wife Vangie dropped him off at a substance abuse treatment facility. He had been sober the last 21 years of his life. The needles he shared while using heroin had a lasting effect, however. Fender was diagnosed with hepatitis C in the early '90s.

Fender also acted in several films, including the prison drama "Short Eyes" and the 1988 film "The Milagro Beanfield War." When he auditioned for "Milagro" director Robert Redford, he was asked his acting experience. "Man, I shoulda won the Academy Award for all the stories I told my wife when I'd come home late and drunk," Fender told Redford. "She believed them." Fender got the part as the town's mayor.

He also thrived in his new role as loyal, devoted husband. Vangie Huerta, whom he divorced after getting out of prison in 1963 but remarried a few years later, remained his rock until the end.

14 October 2006

Saturday quote game

Guess who said the following:

  1. "An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland."
  2. "I have seen the religious spirit bloom again; churches once more are crowded, the ministers of God are themselves invested with new respect."
  3. "I would like to thank Providence and the Almighty for choosing me of all people to be allowed to wage this battle..."
  4. "I believe that God wants me to be president."
  5. "God is not on the side of any nation, yet we know He is on the side of justice. Our finest moments [as a nation] have come when we faithfully served the cause of justice for our own citizens, and for the people of other lands."
  6. "If we pursue this way, if we are decent, industrious, and honest, if we so loyally and truly fulfill our duty, then it is my conviction that in the future as in the past the Lord God will always help us."
  7. "[F]reedom and fear, justice and cruelty have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them."
  8. "Never in these long years have we offered any other prayer but this: Lord, grant to our people peace at home, and grant and preserve to them peace from the foreign foe!"
  9. "God gave the savior to the ... people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he was sent to us by God to save [us]."
  10. "But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy & it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism & exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
  11. "The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear."
  12. "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

Answers: 1. Adolf Hitler; 2. Benito Mussolini; 3. Adolf Hitler (Berlin March, 1936); 4. George W. Bush; 5. George W. Bush; 6. Adolf Hitler(at the Harvest Thanksgiving Festival on the Buckeburg held on 3 Oct. 1937); 7. George W. Bush; 8. Adolf Hitler (Nuremberg, Sept. 13, 1936); 9. Hermann Goering, speaking of Adolf Hitler; 10. Hermann Goering (in his testimony at the Nuremberg trials shortly before he poisoned himself in his jail cell); 11. Heinrich Himmler; 12. Joseph Goebbels

13 October 2006

11 October 2006

An excerpt from an excerpt of an excerpt

An excerpt from an excerpt of They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer:


"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move... it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this.

"...You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?

"...But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

"What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or ‘adjust’ your principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not I, however. Or learn to live the rest of your life with your shame. This last is the nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism: shame. Many Germans became this poor kind of hero, many more, I think, than the world knows or cares to know."

I said nothing. I thought of nothing to say.

"Once the war began," my colleague continued, "resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was ‘defeatism.’


From here: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html by way of here: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/1189

10 October 2006

Busted!

This story is excellent!

For those of you who don't read Italian... some guys on the Italian equivalent of Saturday night live busted some Italian politicians by swiping a drug test wipe across their foreheads, claiming they needed to touch up their video makeup.

The results:
24% (12 people) tested positive for cannabis
8% (4 people) tested positive for cocaine

So an incredible 68% of Italian legislators have not been wasted recently! Talk about mani puliti!!!

OK, update: story in English here.

06 October 2006

"Chieder conto ai politici..."

Yes, I am avoiding the Foley blogstorm, thank you very much...

I found something on Reuters Italia that I'm not seeing anywhere in the US media: the boss of Google is talking about an online service to fact-check the statements made by politicians. This is a great fucking idea, and the US media are probably pissed that Schmidt is pointing out that they are not doing their job.

Anyway, it's totally blacked out in the US, so if you don't read Italian you could translate the article above or pay to read it in the Financial Times. Interesting stuff.

01 October 2006

Roma capoccia!

Top of the table baby... Inter split one, and we're back in business!

Totti is back at the field where he broke his leg, and still not in top form, but Montella just continues to shine. I like this Aeroplanino guy! I listened to an interview with him on Rai Uno and he sounds pretty cool. So with defense still lagging, it's totally awesome to have a key forward

I don't think anybody can say Roma hasn't really worked to get to the top this season...

30 September 2006

If a man is beaten to the ground in a soundproof chamber, does he make a noise?

Hidden in the new "enemy combatant" legislation just pushed through Congress is a little surprise: the president can now seize and hold anybody he wants, even a US citizen, for as long as he wants, so long as he says they have " purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States."

Given that they have said for so long that opposition to the war aids the terrorists, how unlikely is it that anti-war troublemakers are going to start disappearing.

Paranoid? maybe...
First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up,
because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up,
because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left
to speak up for me.
UPDATE: I finally found something to cheer me up... Goddess bless Jon Stewart.

28 September 2006

One step closer!

I got my grandfather's estratto del atto di nascita (birth certificate) from the Comune of Loreto Aprutino today (and yes I did write that Wikipedia entry). I am really happy about it, because I was concerned it as going to be the hardest part. I still have to get it notarized - or whatever the Italian equivalent is - but fortunately my cousin is an avvocato (a lawyer).

I was hoping to get my EU passport before my Bulgarian friend... I almost definitely won't be able to do it by January, but I am hopeful it will happen soon!

27 September 2006

Buon compleanno, Totti...


Well, that was a crappy 30th birthday...

The early momentum is faltering, it looks like. Totti's not back to full form and they were without Vucinic, Taddei and Amantino Mancini... whole lotta injuries. Basically it was just Valencia's Moretti going ape-shit and slamming an NFL-style tackle on Marco Casetti that gave Totti his birthday-present penalty kick.

We'll have to see how things go when the side is all back together. But even defense is sucktacular, so things do not look very pretty right now...

...but at least Inter's down too.

They DO mean it

If we're going to be intellectually honest and willing to face the threat to American democracy, I think we have to read what the other side is saying. The research here was done by Lambert, and I point you there for more (h/t to Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest)

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are afier. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less. If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to His Lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our stewardship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose. Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land — of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. It is to reinstitute the authority of God’s Word as supreme over all judgments, over all legislation, over all declarations, constitutions, and confederations. True Christian political action seeks to rein the passions of men and curb the pattern of digression under God’s rule. Fortunately, because of the theocratic orientation of our founding fathers, our nation has virtually all the apparatus extant to implement such a reclamation. Unfortunately, the enemies of the Gospel have hand-in-hand eroded the strength of those godly foundations. Thus, we stand at the crossroads.

That above passage can be found in The Changing of the Guard; Biblical Blueprints for Political Action, by George Grant. Published by Dominion Press of Fort Worth, Texas; copyright 1987. Grant is a former Executive Director of Coral Ridge Ministries.

You can read that passage, and many others, here: (see book pages 50-51 - online pages 81-82) The Changing of the Guard.

A more recent post is here and a related post is here. Meanwhile Lambert is sending people here for more:

Americans have long been in denial that there is a movement in the U.S. that seeks to impose a Christian theocratic government; that there is a movement that is effectively using the tools of constitutional democracy, (also known as elections) to end constitutional democracy as we know it; that this movement is growing in number and power. It can't happen here, we reassure ourselves. Americans won't let it happen. But in fact, we are closer now than we have ever been, to "it" happening here.
These people mean it. America is an experiment. Democracy is an experiment. American democracy has not been around very long, and we have never been so perilously close to losing it. All the checks and balances have been removed by allies of these people. They mean it. The leader of the Senate is saying that Democrats hate "people of faith." They mean it. Time magazine puts on their cover a person who calls for murdering us. They mean it. A Supreme Court Justice declares that rulers should be chosen by God, not the people. They mean it. The Vice President is the keynote speaker at a conference where other speakers called for "a new McCarthyism" to bring "terror" to intellectuals, saying "let's oppress them [liberals]," and that "the entire Harvard faculty" are "traitors." They mean it. They mean it.

Watch your backs. I mean it.

GW Bush wants us out of Iraq!!

He said so:

23 September 2006

A Timeline of What Could Have Been

I. Freaking. Love. THIS!!!!!

2001: A Timeline Of What Could Have Been
December 1, 2000: Sandra Day O'Connor has a horrifically vivid dream of how the ascension of George W. Bush to the Oval Office would mean the destruction of the American economy, the senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, the loss of American prestige both at home and abroad, and -- worst of all -- the utter dissolution of her beloved Republican Party as, upon being deserted by even the corporate media, it suffers a series of definitive electoral ass-kickings in 2006, 2008, and 2010 before giving up the ghost. She goes on to provide the swing vote that allows the Florida count to continue, thus guaranteeing that Al Gore's election is confirmed. Media pundits attack O'Connor so viciously that she decides to retire three weeks later.

January 20, 2001: Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., is sworn in as the forty-third President of the United States of America. His election is widely condemned in the press as illegitimate despite his solid majorities in both the popular and electoral votes, and despite his high approval ratings...

http://phoenixwoman.blogspot.com/2005/07/2001-timeline-of-what-could-have-been.html

20 September 2006

Roma 0, Inter 1

Well, that sucked.

18 September 2006

Free Willie!!!

Willie Nelson Cited for Drug Possession


Sep 18, 1:06 PM (ET)

BREAUX BRIDGE, La. (AP) - Willie Nelson and several members of his band were issued misdemeanor citations for drug possession early today during a traffic stop in Saint Martin Parish.

The traffic stop was conducted on Interstate 10 near Breaux Bridge.

Trooper Willie Williams says troopers smelled a strong odor of marijuana when the driver opened the bus door.

During a search of the bus, Williams say approximately 1 1/2 pounds of marijuana and approximately 2/10 of a pound of mushrooms were located on the bus.

The 73-year-old Nelson of Spicewood, Texas; 59-year-old Tony Sizemore of Saint Cloud, Fla.; 75-year-old Bobbie Nelson of Briarcliff, Texas; 54-year-old Gates Moore of Austin, Texas; and 50-year-old David Anderson of Dallas, Texas were issued citations for possession of mushrooms and possession of marijuana and released.

First step!

The FOIA request for my grandfather's immigration records has been received. So, I'm in the bureaucracy. There was some question as to whether I needed some proof of his death, but given that he was born in 1893, hopefully they're just waiving that.

This step will tell me if I even have a hope of jure sanguinis citizenship. If he got his citizenship after 1934, I'm good. But, we'll have to see...

Calcio: Inter you're next!!!


Roma are kicking some serious ass in Serie A this year... though unfortunately so are Milan. I am pretty excited to see how Roma do against Inter on Wednesday, especially given how bad they are sucking so far.

Don't know if the giallorossi have what it takes to go all the way, but this is their year if any one ever is...

13 September 2006

Fear of a Christian Nation

There is a lot of stuff on the Internets today (well, every day, but I'm reading em today) about resurgent Christianity in America. The part of it that gets me the most is my generation (which I personally think of as 25 - 45 year olds -- the people I feel the most affinity with) is really pusing the envelope on this, and really bringing the most reactionary, scary midieval Christianity into the popular culture.

There is this scary-ass grunge Stepford up in Seattle. One of the most personally moving and disturbing aspects of modern-day disciple Christianity for me is the fact that they actually believe something and are extremely loyal to and supportive of one another. I'd trust a disciple Christian with my life - it's not that they don't have personal integrity, it's that their vision of the world is so toxic.

Then there's this new movie and its terrifying depiction of kids worshipping a cardboard cutout of President Chimpy Mc Fuckhead. Ew. This is the president of believes that God talks to him and that the whole country is "Awakening" to his vision of religion. It'd be fucking funny if it weren't depressing and frightening.

11 September 2006

Starbucks and the creationists

I finally got pushed too far. Starbucks ain't never seein' a dime of my latte money again, no matter how damn' convenient they are to my place of employ...

I got to work late, mildly hung over, and sleepy. On the way to work is a Starbucks. It is like a small sin, one that I commit when pressed for time and low on energy. Anyway, I purchased my Venti Nonfat Latte™ and was confronted with the following:





For the record, that quote reads:

The morality of the 21st century will depend on how we respond to this simple but profound question: Does every human life have equal moral value simply and merely because it is human? Answer yes, and we have a chance of achieving universal human rights. Answer no, and it means that we are merely another animal in the forest.

Wesley Smith
senior fellow with the Discovery Institute



In case ya don't know... the Discovery Institute are the people behind the whole "include creationism in science textbooks" movement. So basically, we have Starbucks giving a public platform to a guy who believes the earth was created in seven days and that woman was made from Adam's rib. Charming.

Here are some other suggestions for Starbucks cups, courtesy of punk ass blog:

The Way I See It #187

If killing is right for, say the adult cancer patient, why shouldn’t it be just as right for the disabled quadriplegic, the suicidal mother whose children have been killed in an accident, or the infant born with profound mental retardation? At that point, laws and regulations erected to protect the vulnerable against abuse come to be seen as obstructions that must be surmounted. From there, it is only a hop, skip, and a jump to deciding that killing is the preferable option.

Wesley Smith
senior fellow with the Discovery Institute

The Way I See It #1/2

People recognize this intuitively and are repulsed by the standard bioethical agenda: human cloning, fabricating hybrid beings that are half human and say, half ape, and using cognitively disabled humans in place of higher animals in medical research.

Wesley Smith
senior fellow with the Discovery Institute

The Way I See It #∞

Time will tell whether becoming known as “the Human Cloning party,” will help or hurt the Democrats.

Wesley Smith
senior fellow with the Discovery Institute

The Way I See It #Crazy

Indeed, the government is already flirting with transhumanist fantasies. Thus, “Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance,” a 2002 report issued by the National Science Foundation and United States Department of Commerce, recommended the government spend billions pursuing some of the very technologies that transhumanists crave to utilize in their morphological quests.

Wesley Smith
senior fellow with the Discovery Institute



Oh well, so much for the idea of "rebranding" the blog. Except of course, the idea that I want to live in a secular society... you know, the one with a Catholic church on every corner. Sheesh.

07 September 2006

Crazy religion

Sometimes religious people just make me feel the whole religious enterprise is an evil period of human history that has to end as soon as possible.

Take, for example, this sick specimen of humanity:




On the lighter side, some religious people are just clowns:



Imagine the lives these poor children must live. These are the kids that will inherit a world wracked by war, global warming and resource depletion...

01 September 2006

"Re-branding"

So, I'm changing this thing around to reflect the fact that the main effort of the next year or so of my life will be to get my Italian citizenship, and all that entails. Briefly, what I will need is:
  • my paternal grandfather's birth certificate from Italy, also known as an estratto dell'atto di nascita
  • my paternal grandfather's certificate of Italian citizenship from Italy, also known as a certificato di cittadinanza italiana
  • my paternal grandmother's birth certificate
  • my grandparents' marriage certificate, with apostille and translation
  • my paternal grandfather's certificate of naturalization, with apostille and translation
  • my father's birth certificate, with apostille and translation
  • my mother's birth certificate, with apostille and translation
  • my parents' marriage certificate, with apostille and translation
  • my birth certificate, with apostille and translation
  • death certificates for both my grandparents and my father, with apostille and translation
Right now, I have exactly... none of those. So I have my work cut out for me. Add to that my intention to be fluent in the language by this time next year, and I will be quite busy.

09 August 2006

Bush è il vampire dell'olio


How much clearer can it be: Bush has more than doubled oil prices and will probably kill the economy.

È completamente chiaro. Bush ha raddoppiato il prezzo di benzina ed ucciderà l'economia.

the despot alone

The Snow man busts with some inadvertent truth:


In the totalitarian states the despot alone has the opportunity to declare what he or she wants to do. And frankly, they are much more warlike.


Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best."

06 May 2006

New spy boss a Cheney tool

This is frightening news:

The new CIA director will be a secretive henchman of Dick Cheney who's behind the illegal spying on millions of Americans.

Late Friday night, word leaked out that Gen. Michael Hayden is the White House choice to take over CIA duties from suddenly-fired spook insider Porter Goss.

Hayden, a 61-year-old Air Force general, was the "human face" of the National Security Agency's criminal spying on Americans that actually began before the convenient 9/11 attacks.

Accused in July 2001 of using the NSA to spy on millions of Americans, Hayden made the bizarre claim that everything was fine because the White House and Pentagon held the reins.

"We aren't off the leash, so to speak, guarding ourselves. We have a body of oversight within the executive branch, in the Department of Defense, in the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board."

Hayden made the claims on the TV show Nightline back in the summer of 2001.

When the latest NSA spying scandal made the news in January, Hayden was sarcastically dismissive of the concerns of Americans.

In 2005, he was moved from the "highest ranking military intelligence officer in the U.S. military" to the new post known as "principal deputy director of national intelligence."

That post was created by U.S. supervillain John Negroponte, who just last year was made "the nation's first director of national intelligence," with Hayden as his second-in-command.

(Some of the many recent rumors about Porter Goss' sudden shameful resignation as head of the CIA say that Negroponte is holding the axe.)

A lifelong spook operating under cover of an Air Force uniform, Hayden was put in charge of NSA -- known as "No Such Agency" for much of its cryptic history -- by none other than Bill Clinton.

Clinton had authorized the first attempt at constant electronic surveillance of Americans, a repugnant project called Echelon that was launched in concert with his police-state comrade Tony Blair.

01 May 2006

Conspiracy theories

I believe every word of this, and I'm not paranoid. However, I believe every word of this, too.

I don't trust the government to run a competent investigation (qv: Warren Report), or to execute a competent conspiracy/coverup on the scale of the Kennedy assassination, Area 51, etc.

That doesn't mean that there aren't certainly things that are being hidden to manipulate us. More careful sleuthing is needed to uncover the truth.

I definitely agree that Bush/Cheney were anticipating 9/11:

The Busheviks were forewarned ("Bin Laden determined to strike in the US"), but they expected attacks on the scale of the USS Cole and the African embassies: perhaps a few dozen casualties -- "acceptable." They did not take countermeasures because they saw a strategic advantage in such a "mini-Pearl Harbor." For such a purpose, the attack on The Pentagon would suffice. They did not expect the destruction of the World Trade Center. However, after 9/11 the die was cast, and so they eagerly launched their "war on terror," along with the policy outrages that were to follow: the USA PATRIOT ACT, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo. The Iraq War, we now know from Richard Clarke and the Downing Street memos, was on the drawing boards long before 9/11, awaiting just such an event to set it in motion.

In any decent country there would be blood in the streets over this...

30 April 2006

Things that really matter

I'm coming to the end of a ridiculously chaotic period in my life, and I'm thinking about what's important to me going forward, what my focus should be.

Obviously, to me anyway, the relationship comes first. I put all this energy into my solitary spiritual trip and now I am broadening that out to include a relationship, making a home with someone... and blending our spiritual energies in a way that makes sense for both of us. I am really building momentum on my health, adding more and more good habits and building up positive feedback. My work is also important, not as an end in itself really, but as another sort of creative expression. Learning, it seems like, is part of my art form and so I am learning a lot at work.

I feel like history is swirling all around me, that we are moving into this incredible historic moment with the spread of war, environmental devastation and the beginning of the collapse of the Empire. I have put so much energy over the past 10 years or so learning about the state of the world and now I have all this information and so little of a sense of what to do with it. I guess I don't feel there's very much that can happen to affect the enormous momentum of events, but maybe there are things that can help people handle the consequences of events and begin to recapture some of their power.

Traveling with my girl is huge. The trip to Italy this year, and Venezuela next year, absolutely have to happen. These plans affect the choices I make about work, which is why I am working so hard these days. A lot of the leisure learning I am doing: advancing my Italian, world affairs, history... these will all also giude my travel plans and the things I want to learn about the world.

So, here I am. Every day, these are my priorities:
  1. Build the relationship and treat D with greater love, respect and kindness every day
  2. Take time for meditation and be thankful for all the good things in my life
  3. Add positive health habits regularly
  4. Keep learning new things and write more
  5. Think about how to help others and save the world

15 January 2006

Rebooting my life...

So this is my fourth attempt to compose a new entry. This ancient brick of a laptop rebooted thrice while I was writing, and I'm thinking about sending it in for repair. (Before, I was thinking about getting one of those new Apple laptops, but every time I had that thought the computer would reboot again. Shhhh...)

What would it be like if I didn't have a computer at my house for a series of days? How would my life change? It is interesting to think about. I'm getting to the point where I hardly find anything interesting to read online - news just outrages me, and I can't read for pleasure online... I must have that tactile sense of a book in my hands. Maybe it's time to go on a computer fast... maybe I'd actually develop something of an attention span. Maybe I'd start writing in my paper journal again. Imagine that...

Anyway, to the point of the original entry: my life has changed subtly but sort of dramatically since coming back from New York and going on days. I was musing about the difference between wanting and having, and how that energy changes my focus. I feel like I have been spending a huge amount of time and attention over the years seeking a relationship that doesn't leave me wanting more, a job that actually pays money, something to do in the evenings. A decade on a rock makes even sleepy San Diego seem like a wonderland, I'm not making a ton of money but my expenses are low enough that I can enjoy myself on my income and, well... D is everything I have ever wanted in a woman and more.

So now I am reflecting on how to ground that seeking energy in my life. Certainly, I want to deepen my relationship, progress in my career and broaden my interests, so I think there's always going to be some expansive dynamic in my life. At the same time, there's a certain abiding energy that I would like to develop: just being with things as they are. I get to a place of utter contentment when I'm with D, for example, that i think comes from complete absorption in the moment. I would like to expand that into other areas of my life.

And, as always, the answer comes down to more meditation, more practice, more making it real and not just lip service to an ideal. Which makes me think of the paradox of practice: effort without striving for a goal. I think that may be part of what I am groping around for here... that the dynamic I am talking about fostering in my life is just that kind of deepening, intensifying energy, but in a settled way, not looking for external stimulation to bring me satisfaction.

Hmm.

Anyway, I have to fix this damn computer.

14 January 2006

This is how freedom dies...

Bush has taken total power. And Americans are paying attention to - what? - Brad and Angelina's baby. Don't cross this president, or he might crush your child's testicles.

Goddess help me. Fuck this country.

Okay, I promise I'll write something more personal and meaningful soon. Rrrrrrrrr... I'm freakin'.

07 January 2006

My life, rated...

This is dorky, but at least I got a good score:

This Is My Life, Rated
Life:
8.1
Mind:
8.1
Body:
8.8
Spirit:
9.2
Friends/Family:
4.2
Love:
8.5
Finance:
8.1
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Last night shift!

I'm finally finished with the 10pm - 6am shift from fucking hell! The work has been really easy, and I have made good money... however it's been pretty hard on my body and my personal life. Night shift just sucks no matter how you slice it.

At the beginning I bullshitted myself that I was going to do all these things during this rotation -- write more, study Italian -- but it mostly didn't happen. I mean, I wrote in my blog a fair amount, and I spent some time studying D's Italian book, but for the most part the last three months have been a haze. I looked in my regular journal the other day and I saw I didn't write in it since right after D and I got back together... back in September.

I am really looking forward to day shift though, and I have reasonable expectations I think. I am starting to get my old workout routine back, and all I am talking about doing is ratcheting the intensity up and meditating regularly. And getting back into sailing and learning salsa and doing yoga. And getting as much overtime as I can. And spending more time with Denise.

Yeah, totally reasonable...

06 January 2006

Coastal elitists...

Denise and I spent New Year's in New York (for those of you who have not heard me brag on this endlessly for the past week). Yesterday I was telling her how I sort of felt at home in NYC, at least in Manhattan, because I felt like I could relate to a lot of the people. Culturally, it seems to me, New York and California are more alike than they are different.

She expressed some feelings about having a night off and there not really being that much to do other than things she always did. We started talking about how limited San Diego is, though we both really love it here and kind of feel we should appreciate it more. But a few days riding Manhattan subways clued us in to how fragmented we are in California: everyone's in their cars, and you go from Point A to Point B, not walking through neighborhoods as we did there. We heard so many different languages in New York, and there were a few neither of us could identify. In San Diego, whites and Latinos barely interact, and you hardly ever see any other minorities. They're out there, but we don't mix very much.

Then, I got her to talk a little about Oklahoma, and in many ways she made it sound like New Jersey. Some of the same things that drove me out of my "homeland" caused D to flee OK: the narrowness of the people, the seeming lack of interest in anything outside their own little worlds, the bitterness and the intolerant gossipyness. I opined that the reason so many people in what I (humorously) refer to as "flyover country" have serious aggression issues just goes back to a lack of love, whether through getting stuck in loveless relationships because of children, or just the inability ot meet the right person in a small community. Denise said she thought it had more to do with people unable to see beyond their limits, and unable or unwilling to seek out their dreams. I think she has a point, but in a certain sense I think we're describing the same dynamic from different perspectives.

Anyway, I'm trying to do less political stuff and actually write down things I feel. For once, it seems, what I'm feeling doesn't directly involve my private life with D and so seems fair game for this page.

I'd genuinely love to read some comments on what seems like a highly condescending elitist conversation. I mean, I know I'm painting with a broad brush here, but I wouldn't have spoken or wirtten in as much detail as I have if I didn't think the ideas had some merit. Just trying to gain some perspective.

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