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Postings are in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

August 2004

So I watched a bit of the Olympics. It's always wild to watch athletes compete at that level. The only problem is that I forgot to hit the mute button and was exposed to the inane commentary.

Olympic television commentary seems, to me anyway, an odd venue in which to address the treatment of women in the Middle East. If the treatment of women in the Middle East was being addressed in other mainstream venues, other than the occassional presidential speech (when Bush is really trying to demonize someone and he wants soccer moms on board - "They have torture chambers... and rape rooms." As if there's a goddamn difference?), I suppose it would make some sense. But it's not. And so hearing, during the opening ceremonies, Katie "Perkier Than Thou" Couric mouth off about the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia, seemed, seemed, mind you, disjointed.

And last night (the second time I've tuned in), they made a swipe at Pakistan, during an "inspirational" bio moment that featured a female swimmer from there. They noted what a big deal it is for women from Pakistan to compete in the Olympics at all, and mix with men in public, and wear next to nothing while they're at it. They flashed an image of a busy city street scene, presumably from Pakistan, with women wearing full body coverings, that left only slits for the women to peek through (I get chills whenever I see women in those things - someone in my neighborhood wears one). I'm not arguing that women aren't treated poorly in Pakistan, I'm sure there's abundant evidence that they are (the existence of "honor" killings, for instance). Kind of like there's abundant evidence that they're not treated well here either (see: poverty and domestic violence statistics). And while I could argue that women have made greater advances toward equality and independence in the U.S., Pakistani women would undoubtedly point out that Pakistan, at least, has had a female Prime Minister (back before the military took over).

Olympic commentary just seems an odd venue in which to address the issue (with offhand snippy remarks).

Speaking of women... I was bummed to finally get to see Marion Jones compete, only to see her lose both events. She's not hard to watch, not a bit. It's just hard to watch your country's athletes get smoked on the field. Ouch. Can that Russian lady jump or what? Yow. And while the U.S. relay team made a horrifically basic blunder, they got to do it in that really cool uniform - slick. The Jamacan women's uniform was kinda silly, but it didn't prevent them from burning up the track. Fabulous!

I'm just pleased that we won the gold in... SOCCER! Barely soothes the pain of losing the freakin' U.S. women's professional league though. Here's a super article: U.S. women's soccer team reclaims gold medal by Ann Killion (The Mercury News, 08.26.04)

Picture, if you will, this:

A quiet summer night in the Maine woods. A gently crackling campfire. A camper, sitting back in a comfortable chair, enjoying the serenity of the moment; marshmallow roasting on a stick in one hand, bottle of port in the other.

Sigh. Good times. Times with next to nothing to do with actual taste, but good times nonetheless. Here's to living!

And here's to an absolutely great lady who passed away recently, Julia Child.

Lovely tribute, Memories of Julia Child (NPR's Weekend Edition, 08.14.04, audio file)

I've had to develop several strategies for avoiding all media coverage of the Republican Convention next week... They include things like purchasing a block of concrete. It will be my portable memory eraser. When I encounter images and sounds related to the Republican convention, I'll smack my head on the block to induce a temporary state of amnesia (or at the very least, a pleasant, in comparison, distraction). There's only so much Orwellian, don't mind the small man behind the curtain, everything's coming up roses and aren't we just the big man on campus (can't you just smell it from here?), talk that I can withstand and pass for a functional adult.

There's been nothing but crap news and numbers for Bush the past three weeks, but all the media seems to be able to talk about is how effective a small media buy, by a small group of Republican funded, Bush campaign-related, liars, who've been around lying for ages, has been so effective in damaging John Kerry's campaign... That Kerry's campaign was so easy to damage with lies he's encountered before is a huge problem, yes, but so is the "legitimate" media's falling for bullshit accusations, that have been shoved up the public's ass by the right-wing media machine. Then recounting them again and again before actually looking into what's behind the accusations. Get a clue people.

In the news:

Striking conversation about Darfur:
Dying in Darfur (The Connection, 08.24.04, audio file)

Sounds about right:
A Failed Presidency (The Nation, 09.04 issue)

Here's a superb example of speaking from both sides of your mouth:
Cheney Says Does Not Back Federal Gay Marriage Ban (Reuters, 08.24.04)
The Republican response to Cheney's remarks? They strengthened the language condemning gay marriage in their convention platform... And, according to new gov't numbers, there are a million more Americans living in poverty this year. Don't hear 'em screeching about that, now do ya?

Here's a good discussion about conservatism in America, followed by a fabulous comparison of music of the right and left from the Vietnam era:
The Right Nation (OnPoint Radio, 08.24.04)

This article is muy ironic, considering the infamous copyrights grab contract Conde Naste requires its authors to sign (this article was published in a Conde Naste magazine):
Copyrighting The President: Does Big Media Have A Vested Interest In Protecting Bush? You Betcha by Lawrence Lessig (Wired, 08.18.04)

Deja vu:
Smear by veterans may hurt Bush by Thomas Oliphant (Boston Globe, 08.22.04)

Yet another connection? How very... expected. Why on earth they'd go after Kerry's service record when key bits of Bush's has been so conveniently lost and no one can remember him showing up anywhere except a dental exam... oh right! That's why they're doing it!:
Bush Campaign Lawyer Tied to Group's Anti-Kerry Ads by Adam Entous (Reuters, 08.24.04)

Kerry Wins Backing from Nobel Economics Laureates by Michael Conlon (Reuters, 08.25.04)

Conversation with Maureen Dowd on her book, Bush World (OnPoint Radio, 08.12.04, audio file)

No! Really?
Bush Tax Cuts Heavily Favor Rich, CBO Says -Reports (Reuters, 08.13.04)

Politics - the full-body contact sport:
New Jersey Governor Quits Over Homosexual Affair by Jim Brumm (Reuters, 08.12.04)

Is it cost effective?! Is it a viable alternative? Is it too good to be true? I hate when it's so new you don't get all of the juicey bits:
Scientists Say Sunoil Could Power Cars, Homes by David Cullen (Reuters, 08.25.04)

Here's a little more info:
“Flower Power” Cars Could be in Your Future (Fuel Cell Works, 08.24.04)

His t-shirt read, "John Kerry, please don't make me vote for Nader". I know what he means. Though it'll be a cold day in hell before I ever voted for Ralph Nader - again. I did years ago, when he ran against Clinton (wimpy safe protest vote from MA). I think Nader is a megalomaniac - self-deluded to the max. Which isn't to say that I'm opposed to more parties than the big two, not at all - I'm all for third parties on the right that suck votes away from the Republican candidate <snort>.

Wandering around the outskirts of the Fleet center, where the Democratic Convention was held was kinda eerie. Boston was kinda eerie during the week of the convention, because everyone seemed to have deserted it to avoid the mess the convention would cause here (they closed down the major highway that passes through the city).

Law enforcement, and everybody else, breathed a sigh of relief that there were no major incidents. I chatted with a police officer who wandered through a photo I was taking of the "Free Speech Zone". I told him that I'd just captured his arm and a bit of his head and he shrugged, "I've been photographed so much this week it doesn't make a difference."

"Lots of people around with cameras, lots of tourists?" I asked.

He clarified. "I've been photographed by the Anarchists, and the Anarchist's lawyers. I've been photographed by <some obscure protest group's name that I didn't quite catch> and their lawyers. All week long."

He seemed to have a sense of humor about it. As he seemed to have one about the eclectic group of protesters that were milling about the street - uncooperatively protesting outside of the designated "Free Speech Zone" (appropriately re-dubbed "The Cage" by the populace hereabouts). The police tolerated this indiscretion, protesting outside of the designated area, as there were only about one hundred protesters and they were practically outnumbered by the battalion of officers and state police (in full riot gear) that worked the street (not to mention the men in army fatigues that stood on the roofs of the buildings overlooking the area).

"The Cage" was next to the parking lot where the delegates to the convention disembarked and entered the convention center. There was double fencing between the protesters and the parking lot, jersey barriers, and a net that covered the protest area. There was also a good deal of razor wire up in the rafters of what remained of the old expressway that the protest area was located beneath. I imagine that this was there to discourage anyone from climbing up there to throw things at the delegates. This is free speech? Sad, sad, sad. My guess is that it wouldn't have taken a great deal of imagination to accommodate the protesters (however much the powers that be wish they'd disappear) and not send, yet another, chilling Orwellian message. Sad, sad, sad.

There were several anarchists in the small crowd with printed signs on their chests that read, "I am not a terrorist". I thought that that made a fair point... There appeared to be several folks who were there for no better reason than to provoke the police - which, given everybody's concern about terrorists, was ill-advised. If they had a legitimate grievance to communicate, they did a poor job of it.

I thought these guys communicated their point well:

To read more about the colorful dissent angle at the convention: click here

The bits of the convention that I caught on tv, and thought were fab, were... Bill Clinton's speech - he's flawed, flawed, flawed - but you can't deny that the man is brilliant. Barack Obama's keynote speech was wow. Kerry's daughters were impressive and especially well utilized. You can hear all of those speeches by clicking here.

I thought Kerry did a great job, I really did. It was good old-fashioned broad themed, lift up the masses type stuff - just the thing. Sure, he could have skipped giving out his website address and avoided the bad jokes, but overall, he legitimized himself. Can't wait for the debates.

I gotta admit that John Edwards scares me. Maybe it was the cold medicine he was taking (assuming he was taking medicine for the cold he had), but he seemed remote in a way that's unnerving. And he's anti-choice which is always going to bother me. I've not seen much of him before and they say that his convention speech wasn't his best moment... so I'll be keeping an open mind on that.

These guys would be a massive improvement over the Bush bunch. I'm not saying that they'll change much and that the US will become a sweet and lovable force on the planet - I'm saying that they're likely to make better appointments to the Supreme Court and they won't try to amend the US constitution to ban gay marriage. And they're likely to deal better with the policies that Bush and his lot have bungled so severely. And I'm more than willing to give them a shot at the job. Or hadn't you guessed that already?

I don't know why you would, but if you'd like to poke that poll bruise, you can do it to your heart's content here:
"Battleground" state polling: click here
National polls: click here

Mostly I was struck by their focus. Their attention was attuned to the surface of the wet cement that they were evening out. That sidewalk is going to be very flat when they're finished installing it.

One worker looked up and acknowledged me with a curt, but friendly, nod - before returning his gaze to the surface of the drying cement.

Their movements appeared choreographed - it was as though they'd practiced this dance for years, and enjoyed its rhythms. Each of them had a tool, some on the ends of long poles, that they used with precision and something that looked very much like grace.

Where did these guys train for this? The Bolshoi?

I hope no one scribbles on their work...

A few years ago, the sidewalk in front of our building was replaced. Several kids came by afterward the cement had been evened and scribbled in it as it was drying. Before the cement had completely dried I was able to partially erase the three foot long penis caricature one of them had etched into it - sigh.

Note: The Bolshoi has an attractive website. Founded in 1776 (You mean there was something other than our revolution going on that year? How rude.), this will be their 228th season... You can look at the layout of their theater here (nifty interactive floor schema thingy): click here

Things newsworthy:

When announcing this week's terror alert, Tom Ridge said: "We must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror." Sounds like a political ad to me... Just give us the information and cut the political crap.

If you're overwhelmed by the flood of news this week - here's a good breakdown of some events (Weekend Edition, 08.07.04, audio file): click here and scroll down to the "Daniel Schorr Reviews the Week's News" segment.

Worried about the computerized voting machines that will be used in this year's election? Good discussion about the technology, and what we can expect, here: Voting Technology Update (Science Friday, 08.06.04, audio file): click here

What the Terror Alerts Really Tell Us: There is a Vacuum at the heart of Bush's Second-term Program
by Sidney Blumenthal (Guardian, 08.05.04): click here

A Nation in Danger. Or a President in Peril? by Andrew Buncombe (lndependent/UK, 08.03.04): click here

Oh r-i-g-h-t, I forgot, feminism is the root of all evil - and same-sex marriage... How could I have been so blind?
Vatican Says Modern Feminism Dangerous for Family (Reuters, 07.31.04): click here

Can't say I'm terribly surprised...
Missouri Voters Pass Gay Marriage Amendment (365gay.com, 08.04.04): click here

We shall see...
Gay Couples Must Be Allowed To Marry Washington Court Rules (365gay.com, 08.04.04): click here

House Votes to Curb Same-Sex Marriage by Thomas Ferraro (Reuters, 07.22.04): click here

You too can check out Margaret Cho's gay marriage site - up-to-date info on what's going on: love is love is love

This about sums it up...
In Iowa Fight, Kerry Waves Corn, Bush Eats It Raw (Reuters, 08.04.04): click here

Good conversation. I like William Arkin's take on facing terrorism as a day-to-day reality - boils down to the British approach, "Be alert, don't be alarmed.":
Playing Politics with 9/11 (The Connection, 07.23.04, audio file): click here

Bush's War on Science by Gov. Howard Dean M.D. (Boulder Daily Camera, 07.05.04): click here

Interesting theory on how the war on Iraq came about:
Saddam Wasn't a Satisfying Scapegoat, So Now it's Off to Iran by Karen Armstrong (Sydney Morning Herald, 08.02.04): click here

Law enforcement in Mexico goes a bit bionic by Monica Campbell (Christian Science Monior, 08.04.04): click here

Until people can move their idea of tollerence beyond their personal orientation/identification, this kind of thing will remain an issue: Femme-Lib on the Rise: Femmes work to carve out respect in the community by R.J. Grubb (Bay Windows, 07.29.04): click here

Can't wait to see the first ones subsidized by ads...
Talking Tombstones Bear a Message from the Grave (Reuters, 07.07.04): click here

2004 Déjà vu - July- June - May - April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2003 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov.- Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - May- April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2002 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov.- Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - May - April - March - Feb. - Jan.

2001 Déjà vu - Dec. - Nov. - Oct. - Sept. - August - July - June - Misadventures- April

Compassion Fatigue Entries - 2001

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