Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nature cries for Burma

(AFP/Getty Images)
Blood on the floor of a Rangoon monastery raided by police last night in a bid to round up protest leaders

There are so many heartbreaking things about what is going in Burma, but for a foreigner one of the hardest to bear is the optimism. There are few foreign journalists here, but people treat them as saviours, encouraging them to get the story and the pictures out, with a touching faith that it will make a difference.

“Tell them to send foreign troops, UN troops,” said a young monk at the Mwe Kya Kan pagoda. “Please, fly them to our country to save our lives.”

An American in Rangoon told me yesterday about an opinion poll carried out on Burmese attitudes to US foreign policy.

“Like most people, they thought that it sucks,” he told me. “But not for the usual reason. Burmese wanted to know why George Bush hasn’t invaded their country yet.”

now amidst this tragedy, the latter sentence is actually kinda funny. Ironically funny. Yes Mr. Bush, if there ever was a worthwhile place to invade it would be Burma. Of course, the Chinese would heavily object and it would definitely be world war 3.

Read the rest by Kenneth Denby in Rangoon for the Times.

Free Burma...


International Bloggers Day for Burma, October 4th, 2007

Thanks to Mash I became aware of this:
" Join the growing list of international bloggers in a day of support for the brave people of Burma. Sign up here and just post one banner post on October 4, 2007 with the words "Free Burma!".

So for the next couple of days until the fourth, I will post 'Free Burma'. If you want to participate, click here.
(Mash, I had to copy your picture because the burma site was not working other than signing up)


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Getting a life, the Club Chronicle challenge

I have been absent for a while due to being busy and being in the process of getting new flooring in our house. With an asthmatic and allergy prone child it's been high time. With our two story house however, it's going to be a 'production'. We'll have to vacate at least for two weeks and pack a lot of things as if we're moving. There are only certain things they will pick up and move for you when they lay their tile and laminate.
So in the vein of trying to do something interesting, I entered the Club Chronicle Team Zen challenge and I and 10 others got picked out of a 130 people! They had intended to pick just 6 but they had a hard time choosing so they picked a few more, amongst them yours truly!
What does that mean? Well, we're all going to train to run (or walk or crawl take your pick) Austin's Trail of Lights 5K that will be held in December. This morning we had our first official meet up at Auditorium Shores here at Town Lake, aka Lady Bird Lake. Now, I'm still tired and sore but I really like my team mates and I think it's great to have an instant support team to exercise with. Running is no fun when you're running alone! And I need to get in shape.

The kicker is that each contestant/participant needs to keep a blog and even a video blog if you're so inclined chronicling your life up to the 5K. Then, if you make it through the finish line (and only then!) can people vote for their favourite contestant and she/he will win the grand prize. For now, we're just hoping to be able to keep up the exercising!!

Anyhow, this falls under the category "and for something completely different"! I'll put the Chronicle blog in my link once they've assigned it to us. legs feel heavy already!

Still, it's going to be good fun I think and I really like the group dynamic already.
Wish me luck, egg me on, vote for me when the time comes!!

I'll be off and running (hardeharhar)!!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arrr, happy Pirate Day ya scally wags!

My pirate name is:

Dread Pirate Flint

Like the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, you have a keen head for how to make a profit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Thanks for the reminder, Mad Anne Cash! arrrr...

PS well blow me down. I don't know how to get the colours and image to appear and I do believe to have performed a perfect 'cut and paste'..arr arr...sigh


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cheering up Zee!

Cheer up luv!!


Tomdispatch Interview: James Carroll, American Fundamentalisms

James Carroll
I am reading this very enlightning interview (have been reading in between errands today) that Tom Engelhardt had with James Carroll regarding American fundamentalism. Not only does it give a great background setting as to the why's of american fundamentalism, but also shows the similarity between american secularism and fundamentalism. This notion of American liberators, bringing freedom to the rest of the world. Excerpt:

The City on a Hill

For our conversation, fundamentalist Christianity is a perfect paradigm within which to understand what's been happening in America, a profoundly Christian super-culture. America is also a secular nation, of course. The separation of church and state was a critical innovation, giving us this special standing as a people. The separation's purpose was to protect the conscientious freedom of every individual by making the state neutral on questions of religious conscience. An absolutely ingenious insight.

It's important, however, to understand the profoundly American origins of this insight. The argument began in the first generation. John Cotton, a Puritan preacher, embodied the first idea America had of itself, captured in the image his colleague John Winthrop used in defining the new settlement as "the city on a hill," a phrase that's fodder for political speeches every four years. Americans don't generally like to think this way, but the United States of America is more descended from Massachusetts than Virginia -- an important distinction because the people who settled Virginia were adventurers and entrepreneurs. The people who settled Massachusetts were religious zealots who had left England as an act of dissent against the Church of England, which they considered too Popish. Their dissent was against a certain kind of religion, but not in favor of religious freedom. They came to America assuming the power of the state over the religious convictions of the civic body.

...The point here is that the initial city-on-a-hill impulse has never stopped being part of our self-understanding -- the idea of America as having a mission to the world or, in biblical terms, a mission to the gentiles. "Go forth and teach all nations," Jesus commands. This commission is implicit in George Bush's war to establish democracy -- or "freedom" -- everywhere. When Americans talk about freedom, it's our secular code word for salvation. There's no salvation outside the church; there's no freedom outside the American way of life. Notice how, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of the Soviet system, there is still something called the "Free World." As opposed to what?

...This missionizing in the name of freedom is a basic American impulse. Lincoln was the high priest of this rhetoric, "the last best hope of mankind." The United States of America is justified by the virtue of its mission. The entire movement of American power across the continent of North America was a movement to fulfill the "manifest destiny" of a free people extending freedom. Because this is understood as a profoundly virtuous impulse, we've seldom criticized it. As a nation, we have begun to reckon with the crime of slavery, but we haven't begun to reckon with the crime of genocide against the Native-American peoples. That's because we haven't really acknowledged what was wrong with it.

...Think of that phrase -- "manifest destiny." A key doctrine in what I am calling American fundamentalism. It remains an inch below the surface of the American belief system. What's interesting is that this sense of special mission cuts across the spectrum -- right wing/left wing, liberals/conservatives -- because generally the liberal argument against government policies since World War II is that our wars -- Vietnam then, Iraq now -- represent an egregious failure to live up to America's true calling. We're better than this. Even antiwar critics, who begin to bang the drum, do it by appealing to an exceptional American missionizing impulse. You don't get the sense, even from most liberals, that -- no, America is a nation like other nations and we're going to screw things up the way other nations do. (emphasis added by me)

I'm reading and thinking. Do some thinking of your own and read the interview in full. The main point Caroll makes explains a lot to us non-Americans who shake their heads at the collective bravura coming out of this country as if Christians here and/or this country here are the 'chosen' one. One last excerpt:

Carroll: If I have a point to make, it's this: The religious tradition of Christian fundamentalism is one thing; the tradition of American exceptionalism another. They both have their roots in the same experience. They were separated. Under George Bush they've been brought together.

Oh lordy lordy. Of course, Bush and Rove could not have accomplished this if it weren't already present in the American psyche/culture. That is why Hitler was successful, not because he preached hatred, but because he tapped into a current in society and enabled it to be magnified.

Click on title for reading the complete interview.

House of War

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tropical depression Ingrid

...well well.. I have thought at some point in time that it would be neat to have a hurricane named after you. BUT... with a name like 'Ingrid', what would be the odds? It's too 'furran' no doubt but husband came in the room and said, guess what? You're a tropical depression! well well, isn't that funny, har deharhar.

But I am.. who woulda thunk it..and yes, I'm still on the lexapro BUT tapering off nicely as we speak. I should be off of it in about a month..
tropical depression indeed!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Amish donate cash to school gunman’s widow

(Mel Evans/AP)

>...An Amish community that lost five girls in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse shooting massacre last year has donated money to the widow of the gunman, the community said Wednesday...

Now this is faith at work. Not an empty, bombastic and faux-religious/pious claim to wanting to serve God and country like so many Republicans (which the Democrats feel forced to follow suit to show (to) those religious voters how much worthwhile voting for them is)..

Weekly prayer thread for President Bush and our troops.

Actions speak louder than words...

True Cost of War

From the Death of a Soldier Gallery, Michael Kamber of the New York Times

another image from Michael Kamber

Read his 'Digital Journalist' report on his story of not being allowed to post some pictures even though the soldiers wanted him to tell America what it is like:

Back at the base that night, the editing and censoring process began. The embed regulations had recently been changed to say that no photos of identifiable wounded soldiers could be published without their written permission. Nor of identifiable soldiers killed in action. The explanation was that this rule was in place to protect the soldiers and their families. This seemed patently unworkable. The badly wounded soldier I had photographed earlier was temporarily blinded by the blast and on a plane to Germany. How could he be shown a photo and asked to sign off on it?

[Two of the slightly wounded soldiers returned to their unit the next day. I showed them their photos and they quickly signed releases.]

I asked John Burns, The New York Times' Baghdad bureau chief, a rhetorical question I repeat here. What would our collective photographic history of World War II look like if Robert Capa was forced to chase stretchers down Omaha Beach on D-Day trying to get releases? What would our history of Vietnam be if Tim Page or Don McCullin carried a clipboard as they worked and presented it for signatures at Khe Sanh or Hué?

Here in Iraq, we wanted to show the most dramatic photos, ones that would show the public what the soldiers in Iraq were sacrificing in this war. Yet Damien Cave had earlier been thrown out of an embed after pictures taken by another photographer during a battle in Baghdad were published. Those pictures showed a wounded soldier who later died.

Read the full article HERE.

How is your faith and in whom do you place your faith in?

The Amish of Lancaster County, often seen as living in an idyllic but archaic past, have given a powerful example for the future Read the rest of the story.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramadan Kareem

Tilework in Isfahan (Ali Moayedian, 2002)

Here is another, more positive association with Islam. Ramadan Kareem Mash, Abu Fares, Mirvat and Zazou.

In an article published in the magazine Science, Peter Lu and Paul Steinhardt of Harvard University have suggested that Muslim artisans were using complex mathematics to help design motifs more than 500 years ago.

It has often been suggested that the Koran prohibited the representation of the living world, thus stimulating the development of abstract geometrical arts. But Muslim painters have produced a large body of fine paintings of people and all sorts of animals. Miniatures produced in Iran and India are one such example of the pictures of animate subjects.

Unlike Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, Islamic art does not have an image of God. The only visual image of God presented in the Koran is that of Nur, meaning light. Since stars are the source of light from the heavens, it was only natural for the artists to decorate religious buildings with patterns dominated by star shapes.

Stars were also important to Arabs in an additional sense as well, because they were dependent upon the constellations to navigate both in the featureless Arabian deserts and on the seas, as Arabs were consummate seafarers

PS.. and I forgot Mahmoud as well. I have not established as much of a rapport/communique with him but his blog/posts and perspectives are very interesting AND outspoken. Another worthwhile read.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Interesting site:

I've been noticably absent this week but I've been lurking about. This weekend will be a super busy one; campfire kickoff, birthday party, then sunday, birthday party, family paddle event.. pffff. Anyhow, I am reading Frank Rich's 'The greatest story ever sold' and as a poli sci grad, I am interested in different people's opinions. Whilst browsing, I saw this site , It is Libertarian based, but apparently, frequented by people of many political stripes. In the case of the current neo-con domination, this can only be undermined by people of all political persuasion. It is not solely up to the Democrats. It kind of supports my belief (see post below) that for the sake of non-domination by either party (a two party system will not do anyone any good, there is no leverage to behold), we need better organization of parties/political ideology that agrees on some things, not necessarily all. But the goal should be to prevent one party domination like the neo-cons were able to do. And trust me, people's memory in this country is very short term.
Not only that, the damage done by the Bush and co. is very long term. Either in the perception of the world vs the US, or the internal misperceptions of so many uninformed, Americans who believe the boogy men are 'out there', rather than 'in here'. The 'us vs them'-ers. For those bloggers like Betmo and TUO, it's the way to get religion out of politics. Dilute the voting pool and diminish the strenght of the ignorant. I'm not saying people with strong ideas (either left or right, a lot of those people are well read and just have a strong opinion one way or another) but those ignorants who are easily swayed and manipulated.

Anyhow, peruse and read a bit on this site. For my poli sci degree I had to be exposed to all kinds of political thought. Just staying completely within our own circle of agreement won't do any good.