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Since 1:30am, September 16, 2001

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{Tuesday, April 30, 2002}


A Question for Scientists

Dear Scientists,

So, I have the fucking bitch job of fuck. I forgot to tell that. And I can't
get any other job, because I am on the Enemies List. (more)
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All I can say, ladies and gentlemen, is click on that link and absolutely read that letter. Hee.

The link (but not the letter) comes via Oblivio. For months now I've wanted to introduce you all to Oblivio and haven't found the right moment. I'm sure this isn't the right moment either. But here we are. Hello.

Oblivio is among the best-looking blogs I have ever seen, and would definately be on any Top 5 Blog Layouts list that I compiled. Its creator, Michael Barrish, lives right here in Brooklyn. He has written things like this: Then she said, as if in discovery, ‘You have a penis.’ There was no sense denying it. His link to that post is broken. But there are others. Go ahead.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

Um, I hope it isn't true
Israel is reportedly developing a biological weapon that would harm Arabs while leaving Jews unaffected (via jahana). But you know, I'd be surprised if such a weapon could be developed. Arabs and Jews are pretty darned similar.

Update: Of course, the source article (in Wired) is from 1998 and it refers to a report in the UK's Sunday Times that I couldn't find on-line (due to it's age?). Who knows. I've lost all interest in tracking this down, and in the subject of the Middle East (for the time being only, lest you get your hopes up). Suffice it to say, if it's true: bad.
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

theantidrugwar.com (via the bitter shack of resentment, who says "It's about damn time.")

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Monday, April 29, 2002}


Update: I've added a good bit to this post. If you first read it before this notice was in place, please take another look, particularly at the second half.

Nine Bloggers in Amber
In the 1960s John D. MacDonald created Travis McGee. I'm not sure what detective fiction had been doing in the time after Chandler and before MacDonald. I imagine a vague, grey and foggy place, like Chandler's Los Angeles, but without Philip Marlowe to animate it. Limbo. Perhaps still full of criminals and crime, but no hero.

The first great thing about MacDonald is style. McGee is exactly like Marlowe in principle, but unique in application. Marlowe is Los Angeles, McGee is Florida. Marlowe's world is the dark shabbiness of the city and McGee's is the harsh and sunlit shabbiness of the peninsula. McGee is a bit tougher and a bit weaker than Marlowe, maybe. You can read the books and find out how.

There is machismo all through. The stories take themselves seriously, even if the characters don't always, and it's easy to make fun of this. There's talk about honor and duty and strength and weakness, expressed with idealism and cynicism, but never bombast. All of that stuff is easy to laugh at. The characters are hard-bitten realists of course, they aren't to be trifled with; but we are so cynical now that even that can be mocked. Travis probably says it better than I have:

"I get this crazy feeling. Every once in a while I get it. I get the feeling that this is the last time in history when the offbeats like me will have the chance to live free in the nooks and crannies of the huge and rigid structure of an increasingly codified society. Fifty years from now I would be hunted down in the street. They would drill little holes in my skull and make me sensible and reliable and adjusted.

I am, to put it as bitterly as possible, a romantic. I know a windmill when I see one, by God, and I sneer at my white horse."

I never did laugh and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's just being a boy, and so being a sucker for that kind of story. You know, girls were girls and men were men. Really, I think it's the idealism. If you don't let yourself get carried away then you might find it silly. But if you do find it silly it's a shame. Someone wrote this about a Travis McGee novel and I guess it's fair: "Once I got into it, I discovered amazingly excellent writing, with little gems of wisdom, humor, and compassion casually slipped-in among the preposterous and inevitable sex, murder and mayhem."

It's melodrama at its finest. Both Chandler and MacDonald knew they were writing romantic tales, but I also get the impression that both of them thought they were departing from the original chivalric myths in important ways. Their tales were both idealistic and cynical, their characters function in corrupt worlds, and were affected by that corruption. At one point in The Big Sleep Chandler has Marlowe make it plain: "Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights."

You might have to re-read the original myths to remember how much of this same attitude is in those old stories, though. It is almost hard to count the betrayals in the Arthur legend. Most of the story's heroes are alloys of good and evil. Chandler and MacDonald's detectives haven't changed as much as you might think. The style has evolved a lot since Sir Thomas Mallory, but the themes are the same. Even the actual knights in armor were living in a tarnished world.

Which all makes it appropriate that MacDonald was one of the big influences on old Roger Zelazny. If there's a writer's paradise I imagine the two of them up there now, sipping drinks, swapping tales and laughing.

Roger closed the circle with Nine Princes in Amber and the rest of the Chronicles of Amber. Corwin of Amber is more than a few parts Travis McGee, plucked out of this modern world and set down again amidst swords and sorcery (there's even a Merlin in the story).

Travis is easy to detect in Corwin, but Zelazny was always funnier than MacDonald.

This is Corwin in Sign of the Unicorn, after learning a great deal from his brother, Random, much of it of ill omen: "To paraphrase Oedipus, Hamlet, Lear, and all those guys," I said, "I wish I had known this some time ago."

And this is Random, on the topic of his family: "Of all my relations, I like sex the best and Eric the least."

Zelazny's sense of humor makes the old melodrama go down that much easier, because at the root it's the same story, of nearly-just men in an unjust world.

"A Prince of Amber is part and party to all the rottenness that is in the world, which is why whenever I do speak of my conscience, something else within me must answer, "Ha!" In the mirrors of the many judgments, my hands are the color of blood. I am a part of the evil which exists to oppose other evils. On that Great Day of which prophets speak but in which they do not truly believe, on that day when the world is completely cleansed of evil, then I, too, will go down into darkness, swallowing curses. Perhaps even sooner than that, I now judge. But whatever... Until that time, I shall not wash my hands nor let them hang useless."
- Corwin, in The Guns of Avalon

I miss all that now, and I'm glad to return to it when I can. If you haven't been introduced, then start with Nine Princes in Amber, for Zelazny, and A Deadly Shade of Gold for MacDonald, and The Big Sleep, for Chandler. Please, ignore the cover art on the Amber story, as you might have to do for certain editions of MacDonald.

Pick up the books and you might find more connections than the ones between these three. In Sign of the Unicorn, we have "Childe Random to the dark tower came," which recalls Browning, yes, but also Stephen King now. Stephen King, too, writes about a world that has "moved on," and Roland the Gunslinger out-Corwins Corwin when it comes to the blood on his hands. I'm not sure if King ever read Zelazny, but he called MacDonald "the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller."

There is something immensely gratifying about finding connections between people and things you admire. Like the thrill when, visiting the old Tragically Hip web site, I found out that they took their name from an old Mike Nesmith skit, and saw Atlas Shrugged mentioned in the first paragraph. Here's to you, Mike Nesmith, even if you did invent MTV.

Recently I've found more mundane connections, here in the blogosphere.

Did you know that Jim Henley of Unqualified Offerings runs a play-by-e-mail (PBEM) role-playing game called Amberway and Amberway II (with a much better site)? He does. Amber, Corwin's world that Zelazny created. You know who else plays in Amberway? Ginger Stampley of What She Really Thinks.

Ginger gathered this. Jim Henley wrote this. Both of these are thoughtful posts on the Middle East. Jim's piece is original analysis and Ginger's a collection of quotations that, by virtue of what she's chosen to include and how she has placed them, communicates its own message. They are both excellent. This post is not an effective plug for them, and for that I apologize, but please overlook the flaws in my marketing and click on the links anyway.

Amber, the Middle East, blogging, an eternal golden braid. We might even throw in libertarianism.

Long before I started paying real attention to the Middle East, I picked up the role of Rinaldo (also known as Luke) in an Amber-themed MUSH. Rinaldo is the son of Brand, the great villain of the Amber stories. One of the first things you have to do to get inside the head of Rinaldo as a character is to start viewing Brand not as villain but as hero. You have to understand Brand's motives and his story and figure out how his son saw him, that's the first part. When you have it figured out and you start play, the first thing you discover is that your worldview is upside-down. Everyone hated your father and eyes you with no little amount of suspicion. For a character like Rinaldo, who's brash and clever, it's a challenge and it's fun.

"Damn you, Luke. You always make the stupidest things sound sort of attractive." - Merlin, in Sign of Chaos.

Now, oddly, I see parallels to my experience playing Rinaldo with the whole issue of Palestine. Many of the people in my circle see 'my' side as the enemy, as evil. My views are upside-down, and I'm not the salesman that Rinaldo was known to be. It's not in any way fun, but of course this isn't a game and there's much less romanticizing, which is proper.

I've thought a lot about why people spend so much time debating the Middle East without necessarily contributing new thought. It is one thing to try and analyze the situation and propose a solution. Jim Henley does this well. Much moreso than I do.

I think my own dealings with the issue have stemmed from a desire not to be alone in my views. It is not flattering to admit but I think it's nevertheless true. It is isolating to be on one side and perceive that your peers are on another. If, by returning to an issue time and again, you can convince people that you are right, your isolation ends. If everyone decided to agree with my position, the actual problems of the Middle East might be solved. But even if a solution never occured, the agreement would be its own reward, because it would mean inclusion in society again.

Even sympathy without full agreement is worth seeking, and people do seek it. In a way, that explains this post, which you can now read simply as: See, I like John D. MacDonald and Roger Zelazny, just like you. We have the same obscure hobby. How similar we are!

Even when there is already agreement, talking about the issue serves to cement pre-existing bonds.

There it is. Too Peter Keating? Let's hope not.

Maybe there's a bit of the idealism driving the writing too. Some wiseguy once said something about not letting your hands hang useless. Who knows?
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

The Golden Age of Wiretapping
"The amount of subpoenas that carriers receive today is roughly doubling every month -- we're talking about hundreds of thousands of subpoenas for customer records -- stuff that used to require a judge's approval," said Albert Gidari, a Seattle-based expert in privacy and security law who represents numerous technology companies.

[...]

"Without a judge's order, it used to be they could only get records of someone they suspected was acting on behalf of a foreign government or a terrorist organization," said Kate Martin, director for the Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit civil liberties group. "Now they can get the records of anyone if they simply say it is `in connection' with a terrorism investigation."

Under the Patriot Act, said James X. Dempsey, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology and author of "Terrorism and the Constitution," the FBI "can go into a public library and ask for the records on anybody who ever used the library, or who used it on a certain day, or checked out certain kinds of books.

"It can do the same at any bank, telephone company, hotel or motel, hospital or university -- merely upon the claim that the information is `sought for' an investigation to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."

Law enforcement officials have begun to press sources to deliver information without a formal subpoena, according to company lawyers. "Investigators have quickly learned that they don't need to leave a paper trail anymore so nobody can judge the lawfulness of a request," Gidari said.

[...]

"We endow government with tremendous power -- power to arrest you, take away your property, take away your life, destroy your reputation, take your children away from you," Dempsey said. "I think those powers in the hands of human beings, acting under pressure, with the best of intentions, facing time deadlines in a world of limited resources, those kinds of powers need to be surrounded with a thicket of rules."

[ "In the Name of Homeland Security, Telecom Firms Are Deluged With Subpoenas," By Miles Benson | Newhouse News Service ] (via the peculiar one)

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Friday, April 26, 2002}


Just a thought
I spent most of 1987 being eleven. I was in the seventh grade. Hypercolor shirts hadn't hit the market yet, and neither had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures (both were next year). I watched a lot of MacGuyver and a tiny bit of I Married Dora (there was something about that Elizabeth Peña). I had a ten-speed and one of the big controversies of the day was that my friend Saurabh had purchased the exact same ten-speed as me. I spent more time playing Nintendo than sleeping. I kicked butt at Gradius and can still remember the code for extra lives in all Konami games: up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-b-a-b-a-start. Next year I would go skiing for the first time in my life.

I still hadn't kissed a girl, but I do remember spending a good deal of seventh grade picturing Danielle November naked in a field of wheat. Looking back, I can only wonder as to why it was a wheat field. It was probably based on some absurd Playboy spread I caught a peek of at the Simple Simon before the owner came and shooed me and my friends out of the magazine aisle. Danielle was a hotty. It's also clear now that I had only a vague idea of the female anatomy below the waist. And what wasn't vague was more or less incorrect. Ah, youth.

Do you remember what you were doing when you were eleven (to say nothing of ten, or seven, or five)?

I've been thinking about Palestinian kids lately. No surprise, I'm sure. The exact numbers on how many have been killed in this intifada can be hard to get, but here's the data I have:
  • According to MIFTAH there are now 1,491 Palestinians that have been killed by the Israeli security forces and settlers during this intifada. Of that number, MIFTAH lists the segment under 18 years of age at over 400.
  • Palestine Monitor has a less recent tally (going to March 9th) that shows 1,286 dead of which 289 were 18 or younger and 151 were 15 or younger. Palestine Monitor may have a tough time keeping up to date on their tally since their office was recently sacked by the IDF.
  • The Palestinian Red Crescent lists 1,492 total deaths, in virtually exact agreement with MIFTAH. While their tally of total deaths is accurate through April 24th, their tally of child deaths only goes to February 25th. To that date, the Red Crescent shows 234 deaths of children under 18 (more or less in line with Palestine Monitor) and 49 deaths of children under twelve.
Even using the conservative, out of date estimate, we have 49 dead Palestinian kids who were eleven years old or younger. If they were me, they would have died before ever going skiing, or kissing, or wearing Hypercolor, or playing a certain game of basketball.

I bring this all up because Libertarian Samizdata has ticked me off with a post that consists entirely of the image below.



In other words: Those filthy Palestinians. They kill babies. Not just enemy babies. Even their own babies.
They are BAD. Not like those IDF soldiers. They are GOOD. Get it?

Here's something now. I hope it doesn't blow your mind. Ready? Ok.

Which town has more Israeli babies?
(a) Ramallah
(b) Nablus
(c) Bethlehem
(d) Jenin

What? Those are all Palestinian towns? There are hardly any Israeli children living in those towns? Oh. OK. What about this one.

The most clashes between IDF soldiers and Palestinian militants occurred in which towns?
(a) Tel Aviv
(b) Haifa
(c) Petah Tiqva
(d) West Jerusalem

Pardon me? Those are all towns behind the Green Line in Israel proper? The clashes are occurring on the other, occupied side of the line, you say? No kidding.

But wait a minute. Hold on a second. If the fighting is occurring in Palestinian towns, isn't that where the Palestinian babies are? Doesn't that mean the picture above is correct? How dare those inhuman Palestinians choose to have all the fighting occur in the towns where they live just so they can put their own children at risk! If they had any decency at all, they would hold their battles somewhere else. What animals.

You can't really blame the Israelis then, can you? At least they are humane. At least they aren't letting their children live in the same places where the streets are full of tanks and gun-battles happen all the time.

Those Palestinians have some nerve, living in towns that are under attack.
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

Ein klein blogparody
Leftbanker gives us two fine parodies (via Doubting Thomas):

The Ultimate Warblogger
I think that I have been doing this a LITTLE bit longer than most of the pansies out there calling themselves warbloggers. I started warblogging back in 1972 on a Texas Instruments pocket calculator. I described the U.S. incursion into Cambodia using only the cardinal numbers and the # sign. I did it all from my bunker in the basement of my mom’s house in Absolute Zero, North Dakota (the REAL Dakota).

Some skeptics out there are probably asking, “If you’re so tough why weren’t you in the ‘shit’ over in Nam?” Not in the shit? Look at a map, people. What if the VC had turned north, crossed the Bering Sea, and took on Alaska? (more)

MTV’s Real World Ramallah, the West Bank
Jen thinks Samir is way cute but he’s too busy being tortured in prison to notice her. To get his attention she is torn between getting a tattoo and blowing herself up at an Israeli checkpoint. She can’t figure out what color lip gloss goes with C-4. (more)

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Wednesday, April 24, 2002}


Update: This post was updated. If you read it before this notice was posted, you might take another look at the second half.

Everything, too
Today I had dinner with one of the most beautiful women in New York. You think that my sample size is too small, of course, or that love has made me blind. I am not ignorant of the preponderance of beauty that New York has to offer. And I am not in love.

Even as we ate, I was aware of other women. The one who greeted us at the door was unashamed of her perfect breasts; I found myself looking away before I realized I'd been looking. I made eye contact and she remained lovely. Perhaps she is one of the most beautiful women in New York. We're in Manhattan at night, beauty's ground zero. Even the restaurant is attractive: bright colors, pleasing shapes. The restaurant is a woman who has made herself lovely by paying attention to details.

The girl who took me to dinner has curled her hair. In the seven years I've known her, I have never seen it like this.

We drink sangria. Our conversation is unremarkable.

We are the luckiest people alive, and New York -- our New York -- will be remembered in history as having its golden age in this moment. The peak of human civilization. It makes me think of ancient Greece, like we are there, in the most romantic possible imagining of that place, and so of course she is elegant, noble, beautiful. Before, she never struck me as beautiful in this way.

She wore a dark shirt today, when she rarely wears black, and it calls attention to her light skin where she's left the buttons undone.

Aside from the greeter, we may be the most attractive people in the restaurant. We are special; not movie stars but the characters they play. We have the perfection of unreality. The magic is a function of time and place: of spring and New York's urban wealth and the separate camaraderie of being beside but apart from other diners. Of our youth. It's as if the restaurant was created to bring these stars into alignment.

It lasts for two hours.

It is the perfect dinner, and so we don't make love afterwards. A thing's perfection is achieved only in its completion, by the choice of the right moment for it's ending. We let go. We are Zen without knowing it.

I go home and spend almost that exact amount of time, two hours, reading everything2. I find seven write-ups good enough to have an effect on me, but I don't share any of them. I write this post (I recreate the evening as something perfect). And the dinner does not end until I think these thoughts; until right now.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

A four-letter word
"I get the news I need on the weather report."
- Paul Simon, from "The Only Living Boy in New York"

News is a four-letter word. It is narrow, immediate, and local. News is driven by events. A focus on news alone isn't conducive to understanding, because understanding thrives in an environment that can juxtapose the local with the universal, the immediate with the historical, the narrow with the eclectic.

Commentary, even broad politico-philosophical commentary, that has its impetus in a news story is often hampered by the circumstances of its birth.

Your hero is as guilty of this as the next blogger. Ultimately, this is fine. It has it's place (hopefully that place is somewhere near Jessica Alba). But there's more to life.

What's missed by all this here-and-now writing is presented to us on a silver platter by Tony Judt. Andre P. (whoever he is) pointed me to Judt's truly excellent article in the New York Review of Books. Following in the footsteps of intelligent people everywhere, Judt illuminates the present by examining the past, yet he escapes from history into contemplation of the future (man I'm a bad writer sometimes). He leaps tall buildings in a single paragraph. Look what he does with three.

Middle Eastern memories are neither unique nor even distinctive in their scale. For two decades the Irish Republican Army regularly shot to death Protestant civilians on their doorsteps, in front of their children. Protestant gunmen responded in kind. The violence continues, though much reduced. This has not stopped moderate Protestants from talking publicly to their Sinn Fein counterparts; Gerry Adams and Martin McGinnis are now accepted as legitimate political leaders. Elsewhere, less than six years after the 1944 massacre at the village of Oradour, where the SS burned alive seven hundred French men, women, and children, France and Germany came together to form the core of a new European project.

In the final convulsions of World War II, hundreds of thousands of Poles and Ukrainians were killed or expelled from their respective territories by neighboring Ukrainians and Poles, in a frenzy of intercommunal violence unmatched by anything ever seen in the Middle East; at their present rate it would take Jews and Arabs many decades to reach comparable death tolls. Yet today Poles and Ukrainians, for all their tragic memories, live not only at peace but in growing collaboration and cooperation along a tranquil border.

It can be done. In the Middle East today each side dwells within hermetically sealed memories and national narratives in which the other side's pain is invisible and inaudible. But so did the Algerians and the French, the French and the Germans, the Ukrainians and the Poles, and, especially, Protestants and Catholics in Ulster. There is no magic moment when the walls come down, but the sequence of events is clear: first comes the political solution, typically imposed from outside and above, often when mutual resentment is at its peak. Only then can the forgetting begin. (more)

[ The Road to Nowhere, by Tony Judt | The New York Review of Books ]

Judt's article is one of the most worthwhile pieces of writing on the Middle East that I've seen in months. Every word is worth the read.
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

Through the Looking Glass
Alice just couldn't understand the news in the paper today."What a topsy-turvy world!" thought Alice.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Tuesday, April 23, 2002}


Euchre Bowl VI
"There's been no humping as of yet. Just ass licking."
ERP

The quote above was the first entry in the Euchre Bowl VI quote board (published by Out of Context Press).

Euchre. You know. Bridge for dummies. The site linked to at left has a good collection of Euchre links and some Euchre-related products (like the nifty Cool Hand Yuke software). The one at far left has helpful advice such as "Never trump your partner's Ace. If your partner leads an Ace, and you trump it, then chances are your partner will do one of two things.... A) Shoot you or B) Shoot you."

Ah, Euchre, the wittiest game.

The trip to Ottawa was a blast. The purpose was Euchre Bowl VI and, sadly, I did not return as champion. However, I did win Euchre Bowl 5.9, the tournament held in the van on the drive up (we admit we have a problem and are getting help, right after the next few hands are played). I also came home with the fabulous Euchre Bowl VI t-shirt, which is technically a long-sleeved shirt (it was held in Ottawa, after all).

Two trips through customs, in a van filled with six surly (and five drunk) men, but not once did anyone ask to see our passports. We also missed the opportunity to enact this Steven Wright bit live...

Customs officer: Are you carrying any contraband?
Jim and compatriots: What do you need?

Next time, next time.
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

Tina Fey. Hot or Not?
Jim Treacher doesn't seem to have an opinion on the matter. Luckily, David Wild does. Tina, the co-anchor of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, is "a thinking man's sex symbol," says David. "Fey is like the prettiest girl in honors English - smart enough to be devastatingly funny, and if she'd just take off those glasses...no, leave them on. They work."

Darn straight they work.

What Jim Treacher does pay attention to is the comedy, the witty and incisive political commentary that is the staple of Weekend Update. He transcribed a particularly apt bit on (wait for it) the Middle East. Here's Tina's bit, cribbed from Jim's site...

Weekday Update:

President Bush was criticized this week for not having a clear stance on the Middle East crisis.

You know what? Good. The only people with a very clear stance on the Middle East are the crazy people in the Middle East. I've had it with all of them. Yasser Arafat? Don't talk to us in English and say, "I agree to a cease-fire," and then turn around in Arabic and be like, "Hassan, let's do this." Okay? We're on to you. We've got like two bilingual CIA guys now. We know what you're saying.

And Sharon? When you're storming West Bank towns and bulldozing people's homes? Try not to look like ya love it. 'Cause ya kinda look like you love it.

And it's only gonna get worse, 'cause now, when Palestinians blow themselves up, Saddam Hussein will send their families $25,000. That's a lot of money to these people. They don't have game shows over there. They don't have Fear Factor. Palestinians would clean up on Fear Factor, by the way, they would do very well on Fear Factor. Very well. But they don't have it.

So today President Bush has clarified his worldview, saying, "You're either with us or with the terrorists." Or, you're with the terrorists, but you have oil... [Map of Kuwait] ...or, you're with us, but you hate us... [Map of Egypt] ...or, you're with us, but you fund all the terrorism in the world... [Map of Saudi Arabia] ...or, you're 100% with the terrorists, except for one little guy in charge. [Map of Pakistan] Or, you're with us, but you can't really help us. [Map of Iceland] Or, you're with the terrorists, with each other, against us, even though you hate each other. [Map of Iraq and Iran]

Back to you, Jimmy.

What more can be said? Jim also likes Spider-Man, so he can't be all bad. Plus he has one of my favorite blog names: I Know My First Name is Jim. Ten points to anyone who recognizes the reference.

For those of you still stuck on the Tina Fey thing, I dug up this quality interview with the writer/actress (did you know she writes for SNL too? wow). Since most of my readers are too lazy to click on links, here's proof ot the interview's quality in a single question:

Brother Jacques: By the way, I watched you do that thing you do on Saturday Night Live. You also do that news segment now, where you makes jokes about things and they’re funny because it’s all true. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Unfortunatley, the entire interview, much like this entire post, appears to be a hoax.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Wednesday, April 17, 2002}



So much to tell you guys.
  • Saw Paul McCartney in concert today. It was spectacular
  • Saw The Waifs, The Be Good Tanyas, Felix McTeague, and Andy Stochansky in concert on Saturday, which was also excellent
  • I might post about both of these concerts in more detail for you later
  • The post that starts out being mean to Bruce Sterling and ends up explaining technology-driven investment bubbles is coming along nicely
  • I am going up to Canada for a four day weekend and won't be blogging until I get back
  • Ciao!
Oh, meanwhile, check out End the War on Freedom for some old-fashioned crypto-anarcho-libertarian hyphenation.


posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Tuesday, April 16, 2002}


Irrefutable
(We start out all fire and brimstone but then we get reassuringly analytical. Don't worry.)

What is irrefutable is that killing innocent civilians is wrong. Security does not justify it, occupation does not justify it. There is no justification. Yet I hear justification all the time.

Israel's government is selling the story that it is "them or us" -- that Israel's very existence is in jeopardy. This is patently false, or at least it was until Sharon began his war against the Palestinians. Sharon's adventurism threatens to de-stabilize the entire region and may draw Israel's Arab neighbors into conflict. As Israel announced its renewed attacks against the Palestinians on March 29th, the Defense Minister made it clear that Israel's war would "know no geographical, or other, boundaries." If Sharon makes good on this incredibly provocative rhetoric, the consequences will be misery for all, though such a war would likely mean the deaths of many more Arabs than Israelis, given the recognized military might of Israel.

At the very beginning, even in a worst-case scenario, it is evident that Israel would stand a better chance of surviving than its opponents would. Yet this kind of regional conflict is not what the government of Israel refers to when they speak of being threatened. Israel is talking about the Palestinians, about terrorism. Terrorism, in the government's own words, is what prompted Israel's current re-invasion of Palestine, not an outside threat from the Arab states.

Let's ask the question straight out: is Palestinian terrorism a threat to the existence of Israel?

According to the IDF itself, there have been 466 Israeli deaths during this intifada, of which 152 were security forces (ie. soldiers of an occupying army) and 314 were civilians (ie. innocents, except perhaps in the case of settlers). These deaths represent personal tragedy hundreds of times over. But they do not represent an existential threat to the nation.

The grim facts are that in 18 months, including soldiers of the occupation army, Palestinian militants have killed 0.01% of Israel's citizens (taking 6.5 million as the population of Israel). Assuming no population growth, it would take fifteen years at the current rate in order for one tenth of one percent of Israel's population to have been killed by Palestinians. This is not the timetable of a clear and present danger.

One should not be forced to trivialize murder by resorting to numbers and scale, but it is Israel's own hyperbolic claims that demand such a discussion. There is only one reason to work out the above calculation, and that is to refute the idea that Palestinian militancy represents a threat to Israel's very survival. It does not. Israel is casting the conflict in these terms in order to justify its war on the civilian population of Palestine.

This war in itself is not a genocidal threat to the Palestinians either. The 1,438 Palestinians that have been killed represent 0.04% of the population of the West Bank and Gaza. While this is four times the proportion of Israelis killed, it still falls short of a national genocide.

However, what is abundantly clear is that while the Palestinians do not have the power to step up their violence to genocidal levels, Israel does. The press is already full of calm, reasoned calls for atrocities short of genocide. Civilized men and women talk about expelling all the Palestinians from the occupied territory. Articles are written with titles like "Let Israel fight it's way to peace." What is dangerous about these proposals -- what should frighten all of us -- is that they come from the side that is actually capable of carrying them out, a side that is now staging public demonstrations of its capabilities for the world to see.

Talk of "resettlement" or "peace through victory" is a polite way of saying, "let us commit a crime that will have three million victims."

Those arguing in favor of this crime have to portray themselves as helpless and in danger of extinction. They have to portray their intended victims as subhuman. Readers of Little Green Footballs are certainly familiar with the rhetoric. Palestinians are death-mad, or drunk on religion; they cannot be reasoned with and so must be forced. The sooner the better, as every minute wasted puts another Israeli life, another human life, at risk.

There are few ways to respond to such statements, aside from calling them what they are: racism. Statistics, however, do provide another rejoinder.

The very existence of suicide bombers is one of the key pillars of the racist argument, used by those without scruple to paint all Palestinians as fanatics and so excuse any treatment of them no matter how inhumane. Here is some context. According to Israel's own Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 46 Palestinian suicide bombers have attacked Israelis since January of 2001. In a nine year period going back to 1993, the number increases to only 64. Out of a population of approximately 3 million people, over 9 years, sixty-four fit the profile that the racists want to apply to all Palestinians. This is 0.002% of the population, and while this sixty-four includes the murderers of civilians, it also includes suicide bombers who attacked purely military targets -- a group of people who might be considered heroes if they had died in another place and time, with the words, "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country," on their lips.

Two one-thousandths of a percent do not make for a culture of death. Sixty-four people over nine years are not representative of a population of three million.

It is natural to be appalled at evil, and there is no question that the murder of civilians is evil, whether the killers are IDF soldiers or Palestinian militants. The dramatic nature of suicide attacks makes them the subject of much attention. People rightly ask how such violence can be deterred when the attackers care so little for their own lives.

Yet calling every Palestinian a terrorist is a dangerous lie designed to make Israel's situation seem intractable when it is not.

It would indeed be difficult to deal with three million suicide bombers, and Israel would then be justified in the use of overwhelming force to defend itself. But Israel is not dealing with three million or three thousand or even three hundred such people. There have been sixty-four. Israel is facing a situation that it does have the power to change. The focus on suicide bombings is understandable as a normal reaction to dramatic murder, but as a policy it is a canard used by those seeking an excuse to commit crimes against Palestinian civilians.

We return to first principles. There is no justification for aggression.
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Myths
Reminders: the IDF deliberately targets and kills unarmed civilians, Arafat was not the one to break off the peace talks, the root of this conflict is occupation.

Or, looked at from the other side of the same coin, many of the excuses for Israel's murder of civilians are based on false premises. Some of these are addressed by The Electronic Intifada in their recent factsheet: Debunking 6 common Israeli myths. The language is powerful. Here is a sampling:
Myth 1: There is no moral equivalence between suicide bombings on the one hand, and Israel's killing of Palestinians on the other

Every human rights group that has examined Israel's practices has documented systematic and deliberate use of violence targeted at unarmed Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces.

On the one hand, Israel wants us to believe that 400 of its own civilians were deliberately targeted, while more than three times as many dead Palestinians all somehow just got in the way of what Israel claims is its humane and disciplined army. It is, in essence, an argument that 1,500 people all died by accident. (learn more)
Myth 2: Israel's invasion of Palestinian cities and refugee camps is self-defense against suicide bombings

The Israeli claim that its attacks on the Palestinians constitute "self defense" ignores the fact that its posture in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip is, by definition, not defensive. Since 1967, Israel has maintained tens of thousands of heavily armed troops outside its borders for the purposes of stealing land from the Palestinians and forcing them to live as non-citizens under a foreign military dictatorship.

The settlement colonization policy is, and can only be carried out by the violent suppression of any and all Palestinian resistance to the occupation. Throughout the years of the "peace process" Israel continued to construct settlements, doubling the number of settlers according to the Israeli group "Peace Now." (learn more)
Myth 5: Arafat Spurned Barak's generous offer at Camp David and broke off negotiations with Israel

In fact, Barak's offer was anything but generous. It was Israel that broke off the negotiations, and the committee headed by former US Senator George Mitchell found no evidence to back the Israeli claim that the Palestinian Authority had planned or launched the Intifada.

What Barak offered at Camp David was a formula for continued Israeli military occupation under the name of a "state." (learn more)


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{Monday, April 15, 2002}


Song of the day: "Sunny Afternoon," by The Kinks

The taxman's taken all my dough
And left me in my stately home
Lazing on a sunny afternoon

And I can't sail my yacht
He's taken everything I got

All I've got's this sunny afternoon


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The Taxpayers' Bridge
In honor of Tax Day, I present one of the more interesting uses of alternative vocabulary on the net, Tom McAlister's The Taxpayers' Bridge. The blog is not so much original commentary as it is original word choice applied to key parts of excerpts from other texts. This sample from some commentary Tom found on (what else) Palestine and Israel, is representative:

Reflecting on the negoiations of 1998 - In early 1998, agents for the US taxpayers offered a bridging proposal aimed at restarting the stalled negotiations between the Isreali and Palestinian agents. The main component of the proposal included declaring the Palestinian agents to be the exclusive dictators over the Palestinian taxpayers who would dwell on 13% of the land mass known as West Bank.

Here is the excellent DISCLAIMER at the bottom of the page:

The Taxpayers' Bridge does not challenge or threaten the authority of any legitimate government. The information on this website is provided in accordance with the right to free speech. It does not constitute accounting, tax, or legal advice. Anyone seeking such advice should consult a competent professional. READERS AND USERS OF THIS WEBSITE ARE PARTICULARLY URGED TO OBEY ALL LAWS IN THE UNIVERSE!


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{Friday, April 12, 2002}


"Tell me what happened in Jenin," Ahmad screamed into the phone when he finally reached his brother after a week of silence. "Jenin?" his brother asked. "Jenin is nothing. There is no Jenin."

Breaking News: Another young Palestinian girl blew herself up stepping onto a bus in central West Jerusalem this afternoon. When I left the television an hour ago, 6 people had been killed and more than 70 injured. The coverage was instant, comprehensive, and devastating. The carnage was bleak and horrible. Images of a young Israeli girl sobbing uncontrollably as she was led away from the site played again and again. No one claiming membership in the human race could have been unmoved by her pain ­or the bloodstained street, the stretchers, the ambulances, the feverish medical personnel desperately trying to save lives.

Journalists have preserved this moment for the mass consumption of the First World thanks to the freedom of movement allowed them by Israeli security personnel. Emergency medical relief teams streamed into the city with alacrity bringing state of the art supplies and medical technology to the victims of this crime. Spokespeople were everywhere denouncing terror and human rights abuses. Regularly scheduled programming was interrupted to bring you this Special Report from the seething, smoldering Middle East. Would US Secretary of State Powell still meet with the "enemy of the world" Yasser Arafat? Hadn't Sharon just warned Powell he would be making a "tragic mistake"?

Did anyone out there hear that massacres and summary executions have been taking place all week in the West Bank? That bodies are rotting in the streets and under the rubble of their demolished homes because no one can come in to take them away; no one can bury them? That people have no food, water, electricity, and cannot be questioned because they aren't allowed to speak ­unless they risk their lives and manage to telephone in a panicked eye-witness report to someone who will then desperately write a press release begging the international community to do something?

Four thousand men have been arrested and detained by the IDF over the past two weeks; over a hundred murdered in Jenin alone ­or where Jenin used to be. Where are the photo replays of the sobbing, shaking girls at the scene of the crime? Of the blood spattered streets overflowing with sewage and knee deep in rubble? Where is the emergency relief? Where are the polished spokespeople demanding an end to this 54-year-old crime against humanity?

They aren't there. There is no report. It didn't happen. You didn't hear about it. Why? Because this is the only Democracy in the Middle East, paid for and lauded by the Greatest Freedom-loving Nation on Earth.
[ Israel/Palestine: A Requiem for the Damned, by Jennifer Loewenstein | The Electronic Intifada Presents: Live from Palestine ]

Jennifer is, I presume from her name, a Jew. She is writing from the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. She begins her piece with the words, "I no longer believe there should be a Jewish State." Perhaps there shouldn't be any states at all. Perhaps "the state" is the problem. But what is the solution?
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"you're such a rebel, jim."
Naomi, after reading this post.
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That kind of girl: One week after the first date she said, "If all had gone like I wanted it to
we would have already been married."
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The message is clear: while the Israelis have killed far more people than the Palestinians in the recent conflict, they have done so in a civilized manner, while the Palestinian killing has been barbarous. Whatever one may think of the larger claims advanced by either side, this is sick and dangerous thinking, a way of dehumanizing one side in the conflict.

[...]

Let me be clear: there is no viler act of war than to target civilian populations, and the suicide bombers are doing just that. I am only saying that, tragically, most of the civilians killed in this century's wars have died at the hands of uniformed troops of recognized national governments, using modern technologies.

[...]

It is in the nature of war, even justifiable war, that many of its tactics are disgusting. To suggest that one's opponents' tactics are uniquely vile is the most common, clichéd propaganda, used by virtually all combatants -- but especially those whose moral stance is threatened by the fact that they are doing most of the killing. "Ah yes," one can say, "it is true that we are out-killing them three to one, but the deaths we cause are unavoidable collateral damage, while they are specifically targetting innocent bystanders." It can even sound sensible, this idea that intent is more important than results, unless you are the parents or loved ones of the "collaterally damaged."

The fact is that, tactically speaking, both the suicide bombers and those who wipe out entire neighborhoods with rockets and bulldozers are pursuing their aims by killing and demoralizing civilian populations. The imbalance is not one of virtue, but of power and technology. And, if there is ever going to be peace, both sides will have to face the fact that their enemies are human beings, many with blood on their hands, but not very different from themselves.

- Elijah Wald, AlterNet: The Suicide Bombers Lie (via adnan)

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Overheard
"Here's an interesting fact that you may not have realized: today was the longest, dullest day in the history of mankind. Early reports have today's 8:30-5:00 time period lasting no fewer than 34.5 hours, breaking the previous record of 33.7 set sometime during my junior high school years.

During the day not a single interesting thing was heard, seen, or done, and it is believed that for a brief period all color was drained from the Earth, replaced by varying shades of gray. Also a first: at around 3:30, during a brief conversation about international shipping requirements and case quantities, time actually stopped and then went backwards, a process only halted when I started slapping myself in the face."
(overheard here)

Anyway, the part of the story that caught my attention was this:
"It's really incredible," said [Mike] Conley, who now lives in Dallas. "I tell people — when it comes up in the conversation — 'Remember those itty-bitty, quarter-size turtles you got at the drugstore? I still have mine.'
I love that "when it comes up" Conley threw in in the middle of that quote. Do you maybe get the feeling that Conley is a guy who somehow makes the subject of drugstore turtles come up in conversations just a little more often than it normally would have?

Friend: Mike, can you pass the salt?
Mike Conley: [mumbling under breath] Turtles....
Friend: Um...what? Can you pass the salt, please?
Mike Conley: [mumbling a little louder] Turtles....
Friend: Turtles? What do you mean, tur—
Mike Conley: Hey! Did somebody say turtles! Did I ever tell you about this turtle my parents got me when I was a kid?!

(overheard here)
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Song of the day: "Happy Days Theme."

The weekend comes
My cycle hums
Ready to race to you!


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{Thursday, April 11, 2002}


I am adding Ethel the Blog to the rolls of Unobjectionable Content. I also added the wonderful Unqualified Offerings, but Jim Henley of UO is going to get his own post later, so forget about him.

Like Jak, I think Steven Baum (who puts out Ethel) is a socialist. Since I am as conformist as the next person when it comes to herd behavior like politics, I suddenly became worried. "Oh my," thought I, "that makes two socialist links I am purveying. Does this mean I am becoming a socialist? A card-carrying pinko-commie-lefty-scum? Not only are these two guys socialists, but a lot of my other links are to liberals and leftists -- that's practically the same thing! What is happening to me? I voted for Dole in '96 for God's sake. How will I dare show my face at the invitation-only luxury capitalist shindigs that I am wont to attend? What will I say to the future Mrs. Objectionable Content?"

Lo, I was extremely troubled, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

The only hope was to do a survey. Here, gentle, patient reader, are the results. Please, if I misrepresent your views, do not hire death squads to kill me.

First Irregular Survey of the Political Leanings of the Unobjectionable Content Cabal
Reds!
Comrades.
Bleeding Hearts
I hear they like to be called progressive.
We are doomed to anarchy!
Faithful, trusty libertarians, capitalists, and market anarchists.
Not Necessarily the News
Someone told me there was life outside of politics. More females here than any other category. Hmmm.
All that is decent
I hear they like to be called "Ma'am."

1. Jak's View from Vancouver
2. Ethel the Blog

1. adnan
2. reenhead [I'm double-counting her (see third column). Hanging chads! The integrity of this entire survey is compromised!]
3. the bitter shack of resentment

1. A libertarian reads the paper
2. zem : weblog
3. Libertarian Samizdata
4. The Blue Button
5. anti-state.com
6. Unqualified Offerings

1. Stephanie Says (but I'd say she is left-leaning)
2. Digital Saint -- Project X
3. reenhead
4. Outbound
5. How to learn Swedish in 1000 difficult lessons
6. The Kahuna
7. caterina.net
8. Ruthie's Double [you may say, wait a minute, she is political, and probably left-leaning, and did you read those rants against Bush and the 2000 election? you may say those things, but no one will hear you, because I am the one writing this blog, and I say Ruthie's Double is all about sex. yes, all of it.]

1. brown-eyed girl


As you can see, science has saved us. Even with the addition of Ethel, a mere 11% of our links (2 out of 19) are socialist, while a heartening 32% are comforting in their libertarianism. Even better, a whopping 42% have better things to do than argue about campaign finance reform all the time. The eventual Mrs. Objectionable Content, wherever she may be, can rest easy.

Maybe I need to find some more conservatives, though, to give brown-eyed girl some company. I am seriously thinking of adding Pat Buchanan. That should confound you people.

In the mean time, please welcome Ethel. She is a jaunty blog, with a cynical attitude and a homely look that we should not hold against her as we are not exactly a Blog Prom King either (curse you, unexceptional template!).

What I like about Ethel is that Steve reports things that don't get heard on American TV, but he isn't afraid to self-criticize: "I've gone a bit overboard in assuming that anything the Cabal says is propaganda and probably a lie." (where I presume the Cabal is our government). See? The hallmark of a reasonable man.

Here is a sampling of the goings on over at Ethel. It's not all Israel. There's also stuff on copyright law, the environment, and a bunch of other domestic politics from the socialist mumbo-jumbo perspective. ;) But here are items that caught my attention, centering around my obsession.
  • Sacred Terrorism "the Personal Diary of Moshe Sharett (Yoman Ishi. Tel Aviv: Ma'ariv, 1979, in Hebrew). Who was Sharett? From 1933 to 1948 he guided the foreign relations of the Zionist movement; from 1948 to 1956 he was Israel's foreign minister; and he was the prime minister from 1954-1955. His diary demonstrates unambiguously the opposite of several things currently taken as fact by most in the Israel/Palestine conflict."
  • The Mossad-Hamas Connection
  • Israel Shoots Protestors
  • [Killing] The Turkish Kurds
  • More on the Hamas-Israel Connection (don't flip out, it's actually not all super-damning conspiracy-theory stuff)
  • Ha'aretz on the Media "In the last few days, two journalists have been shot in Ramallah, joining a growing list of reporters who have been wounded since the intifada broke out."
While I am at it, let me highlight this post from Jak about the Big Lie that Palestinians were holding priests hostage in Bethlehem's church of the Nativity.

And now, it becomes clear that I add socialists to my blog when they share my views on Palestine. So, in other words, we can blame Israel for this alarming development. Phew. All is right with the world.
posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Wednesday, April 10, 2002}


Jenin: 'My mother ran for help. A soldier shot her in the head'
"The question that was facing Israel yesterday was: what will happen when the full story of what Israel has wreaked in the Jenin camp is revealed?"
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Sexual revolution comes to abrupt end today
"I really just wanted that seat on the train," reports Susan Westin. "If that high school kid gave it to me just because I was a middle-aged woman with a bunch of books in my hands, I don't really care. Screw it."

Ms. Westin has not yet decided whether or not she will continue wearing her favorite T-shirt, purchased in the Village in 1978, which reads "Killing chivalry, one man at a time."
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Stolen whole cloth from We are full of shit, who have a hilarious site, even though they support the government of Israel's current actions. But I wish I pointed out how the Americans in the top 5% of income earners pay more than 55% of all income taxes before they did. Still, I'll provide a better link on the subject. Enjoy.

Anyway, here are the people responsible:

Blow Hard is the author of everything remotely entertaining on this page and is the editor of the Economics, Society and Current Events content. He is a man among men and thus is the focus of jealousy from the dime a dozen office lackeys in the "We are full of shit" organization. He can be contacted at jerolson at yahoo dot com

Ben Thornton is a dime a dozen office lackey, formerly an editor of Science and Fine Spirits content. He is best known for his bitterness, lack of truthfulness, various repressions and for the poor quality of his contributions in general. He can be contacted at panopticon1 at yahoo dot com

Jim Horne is currently missing. If you see him, please contact us.

After reading the endless saga of their bitter rivalry ("Ben Thornton is a liar and known communist" ... "Civil suit against We are full of shit CEO, Blow Hard, expanded"), I have the sneaking suspicion that Blow Hard and Ben Thornton are in fact the same person. I find this notion immensely funny.
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The personal and the political

Peter Hansen, Commissioner General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency:
7 April 2002 --
"The Israeli Defense Force has made a hellish battleground among the civilians in the Bata and Jenin refugee camps. We are getting reports of pure horror -- that helicopters are strafing civilian residential areas; that systematic shelling by tanks has created hundreds of wounded; that bulldozers are razing refugee homes to the ground and that food and medicine will soon run out. In the name of human decency the Israeli forces must allow our ambulances safe passage to evacuate the wounded and deliver emergency supplies of medicines and food.

"Israel is a signatory to International conventions that protect non-combatants in times of conflict. Those conventions are worthless if they are not adhered to precisely at the times of greatest blood-letting. The world is watching an Israel needs to end this pitiless assault on civilian refugee camps."

Source: United Nations Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA) Press release End the horror in the camps, 7 April 2002.

Ann Cooper, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ):
1 April 2002 --
"Barring journalists from conflict areas constitutes censorship. ... We are deeply disturbed by Israel's evident desire to prevent journalists from witnessing its current activities on the West Bank."

Source: Israel bars press from Ramallah; several journalists wounded by gunfire, CPJ press release, 1 April 2002.

International Committee of the Red Cross:
5 April 2002
--"Following security incidents involving Israel Defense Forces soldiers and directed at Red Cross staff, and attacks on its vehicles and premises, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been obliged to limit its movements in the West Bank to a strict minimum.

Over the past two days, ICRC staff in Bethlehem have been threatened at gunpoint, warning shots have been fired at ICRC vehicles in Nablus and Ramallah, two ICRC vehicles have been damaged by Israeli tanks in Tulkarem and the ICRC premises in Tulkarem have been broken into.

Such conduct is totally unacceptable, for it jeopardizes not only the life-saving work of emergency medical services but also the ICRC's other humanitarian activities."

Source: Israel and the occupied /autonomous territories: ICRC restricts its movements in the West Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross press release, 5 April 2002.

the rain
is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
upon the glass and listen for reply;

"Manal Sami Ibrahim, 28 years-old, was standing near a window in her apartment when she was killed by a sniper's bullet through her heart in front of her three children and her husband."

"A 23-year-old mentally retarded man apparently wandered out of the hospital. An eyewitness saw him being chased by 11 Israeli soldiers who shot him dead." (link)

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

"The last two days the Israeli soldiers were in my area. About 5 hours ago they entered one of my neighbor’s houses and arrested all four sons. No-one knows where they went. I spoke to their parents. The mother said that when the Israelis took her sons she tried going into the street to talk to the soldiers and to give her sons their jackets because it’s so cold. But the soldiers wouldn’t let her. She’s going crazy. She doesn’t know what to do, who to speak to, who to call…" (link)

Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:

"There were 29 people buried in the mass grave in the hospital parking lot because the morgue was full. The morgue is very small and only holds something like ten people. The morgue is almost full again, all people who did not die of natural causes, and they may have to start using the mass grave again." (link)

I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

"Two children dragged the broken metal frame of a cart across the road. They arranged it next to a pile of plastic milk crates and some other small pieces of garbage and stone debris. They were giddy about their endeavor, attempting to make systematic rows of obstructions across the street to Manger Square. I paused to photograph this futile gesture. It was truly truly a saddening sight. These children were building a roadblock for tanks." (link)
What lips my lips have kissed, by Edna St. Vincent Millay


All links but for What lips my lips have kissed are via The Electronic Intifada's Factsheet and Diaries projects.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Monday, April 08, 2002}


What I mean is, there are levels of cool, and Level One is Hal Hartley.

Thomas: Have you ever had sex?
Isabelle: No.
Thomas: How can you be a nymphomaniac and never had sex?
Isabelle: I'm choosy.

I didn't tell Ruthie how much I really enjoyed the movie.

her: You are very much a one-woman kind of man, no?
me: If that.

It's possible that there is no difference between life and art. How can there be?

Life is a verb. Not just a verb. To be is a verb but it's a verb that implies no verbing around, no action. Life is doing, not being — to do, which contains all the other verbs.

Art are just pieces of life that you stop to look at separately from the whole. For a moment I'm a mystic. "Hey, wait a minute, it's all one." I don't mean that you and I are brothers. That's logic. I mean art, life, there's no difference. How can we know the dancer from the dance?

"There's those bullshit professional qualifications: "Oh, he's professional. He doesn't fuck his actresses." I don't care for being too professional."
- Hal Hartley

"The thing is", she said, flipping her hair, "why would anyone want to be a part of an industry where they wouldn't want to sleep themselves to the top?"
- Ruthie's Double

You know how flirtation works. Possibility is interesting, certainty is boring. A flirtation excites because it holds out the chance of pleasure without guaranteeing anything. The gap between suggestion and possession is full of risk. It's unknown. Thrilling

me: I want you to know I find you interesting and frightening.
her: Yeah.
her: I find myself the same way.

"Intellectual property—words, images, stories, music, software, information—is indeed mystical, ineffable, intangible." (Nick Urfé)

Ruthie's Double is like that. Ineffable. Mystical.

Ruthie's goodness seems completely unconnected to the real world. She is almost too interesting to be real. No. I mean Ruthie's Double.

Ruthie herself is the opposite: tangible, effable. Maybe she’s too real to be interesting.

The argument for sharing goes like this:

"Show me another form of property whereby “selling” it results not in the transfer of the property from one person to another, but in the sudden creation of a duplicate of that property. When I write a story and then give it away, I don’t lose the story. I still have it. And so does the reader. That’s radically different from every other form of property exchange under our current system of economics." (Nick Urfé)

So now the problem with women becomes evident.

And what sort of movie does she want to see?

"Amateur"? No. Hal Hartley is a dodgy choice for a first date.
- Nick Urfé

We made out pretty well, all in all.

That's the end.

Here is the post-script: Nick Urfé has written a rant on intellectual property from which two of the above quotes (but not the third) are stolen. Kip Manley at Long story, short pier just stuck the link to Nick's piece in the middle his own more specific rant about the CBDTPA. Long story, short pier doesn't have permalinks; the post is Kip's March 28 entry, and also worth reading. Along with the link to Nick, Kip has this:
Warning: though that particular page is perfectly safe for work, the rest of the site isn’t, really.
Hm? Nicholas (Nick) Urfé is a pen name, stolen from John Fowles' The Magus, and this one writes pornography. Both the rant on intellectual property and the pornography are above average. Average for rants and smut is pretty low, so let's be more generous: the rant is nearly exceptional, and the smut is very good. The third Nick quote is stolen from Chapter Five of The James Sisters, and it brings us serendipitously full circle.


Graham Fuller: It's exactly the kind of thing that inspired a friend of mine to say that watching your movies is like being part of a club.
Hartley: Not too exclusive, I hope.

I am hoping that at least one person out there will understand this post.

"I want to look at things with a fresh angle so that the angle speaks, as [do] the words the people are saying in that angle."
- Hal Hartley

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{Sunday, April 07, 2002}


Song of the day: "Radar Love," by Golden Earring


We've got a thing
It's called radar love
We've got a wave in the air


This one is for you, of course.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

Yeehow
It's Daylight Saving Day. You might already know how I feel about this. This year I was awake for the time change at 2am/3am, driving home from New York City.

Air travel makes me feel outside of time, in an utterly flexible land where clocks can be set forward or backwards with equal ease. In a plane I sometimes think I will arrive at my destination younger than I was when I left, years rolling back as tires hit the runway for the landing. Driving is not quite the same, but the night helps, the absence of cars on the road, the glide of the asphalt as you ease from 60 to 70 miles per hour and the sense of acceleration is almost undetectable.

Miles per hour. For a minute my speed is infinitely slow: I travel zero increments of a mile in the hour between two and three am. I'm going fast, nowhere.

"Losing" an hour did not at all make me think of things undone.

A remix of Bjork's "Big Time Sensuality" is on the radio during the time change. It seems almost ridiculous to find a song called "Big Time Sensuality" sexy. You like to believe that you are far too sophisticated in your reactions to art to actually respond to something so overtly titled.

Just after Bjork said "yeehow!" I realized I wanted her.

I want my girl to say "yeehow" just like that: in that throaty-yet-soft voice with an accent completely unsuited to the word; Bjork makes it sound almost Chinese -- "yeehao". She growls it, her voice airy, floating, rumbling in her belly -- all at once. Her growl is exciting. What her voice conveys is soft, small, tiny ... girl. But her growl is bigger than the voice that carries it, bigger than she is. It's greedy, it says: girl!

I'm in the car and I am thinking about this. The kind of girl who isn't afraid to express pleasure -- not to describe it, but to express it.

Bjork and I would spend hours having sex; not always literally fucking, but expending energy in the enjoyment of each other. She would be creative, childish, greedy, uninhibited -- almost play-acting, but aware of the playing, using it intentionally as a game; not as a way of hiding herself but of exploring herself, with me, and of exploring me with herself.

She wouldn't notice the time change at 2am/3am, but when the sun rose an hour later the next day she would suggest that we watch it before finally going to sleep.

She would wake up before I did. I would wake, too, late in the day. The sun would still be up.

I want a girl who's not afraid to express pleasure.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

Drafts
I have two draft posts sitting in Blogger, waiting. Each is long and each is on a serious topic.

The first is about capitalism, the market, and technology-based investment bubbles in particular. It began as a knee-jerk reaction to some inane comments that what's-his-name who wrote Islands in the Net made on the occasion of the SXSW conference. It has meandered.

The second is about venture capital in the past few years, and hence also about investment bubbles, but from a completely different perspective.

I have not been able to bring myself to complete either of these posts; the first because it has become a research project, with links from the history of the U.S. and Britain becoming almost bibliographical in nature; the second because I hope to accompany it with charts which I must generate myself in Excel, because the exact data I want is not available on the web as far as I can find. And also because I haven't finished writing either one. I suppose I will.

Do you people go in for that sort of thing?

What? You don't? You can't stand that kind of post?

Well, I'll finish them both then, you fucks. How do you like that? What the hell is wrong with you people anyway?
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment



jim*: that's a wild tattoo you have on your wrist.
peg: that's the stamp they gave me at the door. look. you have one too.
jim: that's wild.

*This is Jim of girlrepair, not me. Stolen from his April 2 post. I also recommend his April 4 post. Does nobody in the world have permalinks?
posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment


{Friday, April 05, 2002}


interview with a quantum tantrik

"NICK HERBERT in conversation with ABU BEN NOOMA
Abu: I'll get straight to the point, Nick. What do quantum tantriks want?
Nick: We want to fuck atoms.
Abu: With or without their permission?
Nick: With permission of course. We are not savages."

via everlasting blort (which I heard about from the weblog of ... you guessed it, reenhead)
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

This is why we need copyright law ;-)
Instead of stealing three posts from her, I should've just made jim.blogspot.com automatically point to reenhead's web site today. I hope she doesn't sue me.

She writes, "The Senate Judiciary Committe has a nice webpage showing individuals' comments on the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act." I have read seven or eight of the comments so far and been impressed by the civility of the commenters and the coherence of their arguments. So far, every comment I've read has been against the adoption of the CBDTPA. Go post your comments! But read this example first.

Steven LeClair
Wallingford, Connecticut

Firstly, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Senate Commitee on the Judiciary for this wonderful opportunity to share my comments on this issue.

As a constituent and an ardent consumer of digital media, I write today to express my concerns about the recent trend toward allowing one-sided copyright laws to eliminate my Fair Use rights.

Historically, our country has enjoyed a balance between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of citizens who legally acquire copyrighted works. Generally speaking, rights holders have the exclusive right to distribute and profit from artistic works. Consumers like me who legally acquire these works are free to use them in most noncommercial ways. Unfortunately, this balance has shifted dramatically in recent years, much to the detriment of consumers.

Under the guise of "preventing illegal copying" I believe the entertainment industry is vilifying their customers - people like me - and using the legislative process to create new lines of business at my expense. Their goal is to create a legal system that allows them to use technology to take away my long-cherished personal use rights and then to charge me an additional fee to regain those rights!

Copy protection, especially to prevent overseas piracy for illicit sale, is an important issue. However, it is already illegal to violate existing copyright laws. Additional laws that enable the copyright holders to disable the fair usage rights of their legitimate customers will have no effect whatsoever on these illegal operations. The simple barriers that consumers like myself will respect do not present even a small obstacle to criminals who possess the knowledge and technology for illegally duplicating and distributing digital media.

Please, before Congress considers yet another change in the law at the behest of the copyright holders, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to protect my Fair Use rights.

To prevent further erosion of my rights, I would like to add my voice to DigitalConsumer.org in calling for a "consumer technology bill of rights". It is simply an attempt to assert positively the public's personal use rights. These rights are not new; they are historic rights granted in previous legislation and court rulings that have over the last four years been whittled away.

Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely yours,
Steven LeClair
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

The Dilly-dallying Platypus
In further proof that Reenhead is cool, here is this post from her blog (which still doesn't have permalinks):
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Thinky Thing for Thursday:

When I was a child, my parents would constantly bring up odd games at dinner. The "what would you do if you had a million dollars?" game; the "where would you go if you could go anywhere?" game, and the uniquely morbid "what would your epitaph be?" game. We whiled away many a dinner answering these questions. So, I've got one for you . . .

What would you name a British pub?

In my opinion, there are two ways to proceed. You can either combine the name of an animal and a noun (as in "The Whale & Spigot"), or try to create an unseemly pairing of adjective and noun ("The Sputtering Dunce"). There may be other methods, of course. Give it a try!
posted by Reenhead at 4:09 PM | ...talkety...8 comments
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posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

A man, a clone, a canal, Panama
Severino Anitori, the Italian doctor who announced plans to clone a human being "reportedly said that one of the women he has been treating is pregnant with a cloned embryo." (via reenhead)

I know a lot of people are against human cloning. I honestly don't understand why. Cloning is just using artificial techniques to produce a twin. Most people are fine with artificial insemination and other forms of assisted reproduction. Why does the fact that the child produced via cloning will be a twin suddenly mean cloning is unethical?

Safety concerns regarding the risks to mother and child of today's cloning procedures are a separate issue, and they may justify calling Dr. Anitori bad names. But they don't justify a blanket condemnation of research into this area.

I hope that this child is born healthy, and that it and its mother live to be hailed as pioneers.

posted by Jim Somewhen | Link | Guestbook | Add Comment

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