Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Onion online: Our Troops in Iraq

In The Know: Our Troops In Iraq

The Onion online, what do you think?

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Discuss Issues: Texas Death Rates Highest in the War#links

Discuss Issues: Texas Death Rates Highest in the War#links

If memory serves me correctly, there have historically been more soldiers from the South serving in the armed forces than the North. Now if memory serves me correctly again, Texas has the second highest population per state, after California. Still, for Texans, perhaps this is what could make them lose support for this ridiculous war.
Thanks Worried for posting this. Worried chose her handle based on the fact that she has a son in Iraq. A war she doesn't support, and a son who has to, whether he wants to or not. Hope your son comes home safe and sound Worried!

The American Legion

Bryan Anderson coming home to Chicago, having lost his legs and one arm

I'm anti-war but I certainly recognize (or should I say, because I recognize) that those who have been at war, need all the help and assistance of all kinds they can get when they return home. Instead of our dear government who's had no problem sending soldiers off to war but have not been as helpful to them once returned, the American Legion has stepped in to assist their fellow service men and women.
Hat tip to Donkephant for this story :

The transition from active duty to civilian life doesn’t begin when a wounded U.S. servicemember arrives home after leaving the military. It starts before the servicemember even checks out of the hospital, which is why The American Legion will now have an even greater presence at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

During the organization’s Washington Legislative Conference in March, The American Legion signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Walter Reed Army Medical Center establishing an office at the facility with paid staff – provided by The American Legion – to assist in the transition of wounded servicemembers from the Department of Defense to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agreement is a step toward ending recent problems brought to light at Walter Reed due to delays in timely out-processing of soldiers, resulting in backlogs and some being housed in deplorable facilities

Read the full story on Cyber Otter's site.
Here are some of the services the American Legion provides to severely injured service members, called the "Heroes to Hometowns" program;

A Welcome Home celebration
Temporary Financial Assistance
Pro-Bono Financial Planning
Housing Assistance
Home and Vehicle Adaptation
Government Claims Assistance
Transportation to hospital visits
Entertainment options
Family Support

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Thank You Robster!

Even though friends do not comment, as Mash once said, they do read your posts and think about it. Robster read my '100% contentment and simplicity'entry, and found an interesting article that teams up with the theme of materialims and having too much.

America is very wealthy country, but one has to wonder how much of our wealth is in fact a chimera, spun of a consumerist ideal and given the appearance of solidity by a flood of easy credit? How much poverty and real economic pain is covered up by an endless succession of pay-day loans and EZ-finance rip-offs that eventually just bury people under mountains of debt from which they have little chance of digging themselves out.

Today's bankruptcy rate is ten times what it was during the Great Depression, foreclosures are at a 37-year high and the United States has a negative savings rate, yet we're told every day that the economy is going gangbusters.

George W. Bush often points out that more Americans own their own homes today than ever before. He doesn't mention that they also have less equity in those homes than ever before. Every day brings news of the potential scope of the emerging "sub-prime" loan scandal -- what Robert Kuttner called "deregulation's latest gift" -- and new indicators that the housing market that's driven so much of the economy for the past five years is a bubble that's begun to burst right before our eyes.

Compounding our personal debt problems are our representatives, equally profligate spenders who are just as happy to run up enormous budget deficits and who reflexively guarantee and subsidize trillions of dollars of new loans to already strapped American businesses and consumers.

It's a pretty good time to ask ourselves just how we got here.

Writer and film director James Scurlock does just that in the documentary, and now book, Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders. The film is a sprawling look at the seamy underside of the American credit industry -- an industry whose practices have changed dramatically since deregulation, and not for the better -- and at those who end up caught in a trap of their own creation.

This is what I 'fight' with being married to an American. It seems that everyone, no, mostly everyone has bought into this 'debt trap'. Where are the days of spending what you have and 'only' spending more when buying a house or a car and that's it? It's much too easy for college students to get credit cars and this confirms what I have always noticed from the very beginning since I came to the US; a good credit rating means you're in debt, not being in debt, means not being considered worthwhile lending money too even though you're the lesser risk.
Good grief!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

You know me, I don't mind showing two sides so here is one we've not seen. This documentary was done by the BBC. Beware of the length; 75 minutes.

Found this first at Rogel's It Looks Obvious

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100 % Contentment And Simplicity

Oprah and Gail visiting the Amish on their big USA road trip

I have laryngitis and I literally cannot talk. Literally. Not even squeek or squawk, only whisper. Problem is, I have this big throat phobia so colds and yes, laryngitis doesn't bode well for me. What if I need to yell for help?(H-E-L-P) It makes me feel cut-off from the world and this morning, after resorting to the aid of an anti-panic pill (thank God for that), I just started writing in my journal to deal with my silly phobia and asking myself, why the heck do I physically react while I rationally think of it differently? Of course, I did not solve my problem although I can think of when it started; this fear of dying has been with me since my dad died when I was 12 years old. Watching an Oprah episode yesterday (a rare occurance because the tv is usually occupied by the kids) actually reminded me of someone else's insight, Paula Deen.

On another rare occurance of myself watching Oprah, I saw Oprah having Paula Deen as a guest. She's very southern for those who don't know and one of those celebrity food tv chefs. She cooks southern and probably would not be allowed to set foot in New York City with all that transfat that accompanies any Southern loyal chef but anyhoo..
First Paula got interviewed before doing a cooking demo. The thing that peeked my interest (since southern cooking does not) was that miss Paula used to have agoraphobia that was developed after her father passed away when she was a kid. Even though she got married and had two kids, she basically passed on a lot of life's experiences by staying at home, literally. For 20 years, she was gripped by this fear until one day she decided to recite the Serenity Prayer and I guess a light bulb went off in her head.
And while I am writing in my journal thinking about what that Amish couple talked about, their words of 'simplicity' and '100% contentment' came back to me over and over again. Even they, not being of this world but reading plenty about it could see that for all the material acquisition, life was just too busy, too stressed and not too contented. If I look at the Amish way of life, I am tempted to automatically see the things I would miss if I ever had the thought of joining them; my computer for one (!), electricity, the conveniences of our grocery stores, driving, going to the movies etc. And yet, I have been wanting to plant, and to go back to nature if you will. Not really to sequester myself, but to get back to the very thing that in 'our' life is constant and seems to be a place of spirituality; nature. I don't know about you, but speaking for myself, I do feel more at peace when I am working in the garden, walk among the trees, boating on a waterway of sorts. This Amish young woman whom Oprah was interviewing happens to have a published father, David Kline. He once said this:
...the intention of the Amish lifestyle is not denial for its own sake. Rather, the purpose of the simple life is to preserve those things they value most. "We are not against technology," he said. "We just hope to not allow the technology to be masters of us. That's liberty—to slow down and to enjoy life, visit with friends and have the family at home."

David Kline suggested that many people in modern society are searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. "It seems as though people almost have a void they want to fill and they go to the store and are consumed by that urge to buy more and more," he said. "This material stuff just doesn't satisfy in the long run."

My kids go to a Montessori school and the younger one has this thing about making a pattern with hers and my son's hotwheel cars. It is part of her age to want to 'order her environment'. Maria Montessori observed that once children become more aware that there is a world outside of theirs, they need certain consistencies in order to feel rooted in that bigger world they just discovered. I would even say that inspite of all the grown-ups' material wealth and accumulation, people still have the need for an 'ordered world'. One that is harmonious like nature. One that predictable and reliable, like nature. One that say, you are part of something greater but you have a part in this too, like everything in nature.

These are some of the thoughts that have been floating through my head.

Check for an interview with David Kline in the Mennonot (scroll down a bit)

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Slate's article; what we already knew

Amnesty International USA

Not to diminish the fact that this was written, but consider why all these blogs have signed up to be against torture; Torture Is Counterproductive (The response to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's confession proves it) Click on the title for the full article, as usual, here is an excerpt:

The Daily Telegraph, normally the most pro-American newspaper in Britain, wrote that it hardly mattered whether he was guilty, since whatever the conclusion of the military tribunal that will try him, "the world will condemn the procedures by which the verdicts were reached." Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung concluded that "the Bush administration has nobody but itself to blame for the fact that the actions and motives of the perpetrator are now playing second fiddle to the practices used by the Americans in fighting terrorism."
In another article, Anne Applebaum writes about the torture myth:

Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.

Which brings me back to this self image I feel Americans have in the face of external criticism; those with all the bravura attitude of toughness are like the little children or bullies we see who feel the need to prove themselves. It is a sign of immaturity, true immaturity, and lack of experience. Especially when it comes to war on home turf, and the fear that comes from being occupied.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

On The Homefront: Observations from a Street Corner

On The Homefront: Observations from a Street Corner

Check out Larry Syverson's account from when he started protesting the war in Iraq before it happened, to now and how he gauged the mood change of people during it..
Military Families Speak Out..

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Recommend me your favourite book

We're on our way to the library and I am drawing a blank as to what to look for. I tend to like non fiction, but actually do not mind fiction at all. In the past, I have read murder mysteries (my favourite), but also appreciated humour.
Can anyone recommend me at least one book you think I 'ought' to read??


Friday, March 09, 2007

We gotta wash that man right outta our hair...(sing it with me)

along the lines of the previous post, I will repeat: come again?

Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites — which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles — would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.

Now I will say to those who happen to not know that I am not exactly a Bush fan...however, the Mayans were not exactly peaceful people:

Anthropologists used to contrast the "peaceful" Maya with the bloodthirsty Aztecs of central Mexico. Although human sacrifice was not as important to the Maya as to the Aztec, blood sacrifice played a major role in their religion. Individuals offered up their blood, but not necessarily their lives, to the gods through painful methods using sharp instruments such as sting-ray spines or performed ritualistic self mutilation. It is probable that people of all classes shed their blood during religious rites. The king's blood sacrifice was the most valuable and took place more frequently. The Maya were warlike and raided their neighbors for land, citizens, and captives. Some captives were subjected to the double sacrifice where the victims heart was torn out for the sun and head cut off to pour blood out for the earth.

Well, at least Bush is safe from having to 'donate' any blood.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Ugly Parent Syndrome

read article

Listen to this:

A 42-year-old German man was so enraged by a foul during a boys' soccer match that he invaded the pitch and felled the 8-year-old culprit with a karate kick, then jumped on him, police said on Wednesday.
"It seems likely the man was related to the player who was fouled, but it's not entirely clear at this point," said a spokesman for police in the southwestern town of Hassloch.

Other spectators, mostly parents of the children playing in the indoor match, piled in behind the angry spectator to restrain him and prevent any serious injuries to the boy.

The boy suffered bruising and grazes but was otherwise unharmed, police said. It was unclear if the man would be charged over the incident, the spokesman said.

Come again?

Don't think, ah, those German soccer nutcases , check this out:

I’ve always liked that thought, that “sports is the toy department of life.” But it isn’t anymore. In New Jersey two weeks ago, 65 parents, coaches and kids got into a brawl during a football game. One parent was arrested for assault. The kids were 7th and 8th graders.

In Philadelphia, a father pulled a gun on his son’s football coach. He was angry about how little playing time his son was getting. The kids on the team are 11 and 12 years old

want more examples?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International

Sister Dianne Ortiz

I found this by way of Zazou's "Make Some Noise" who has a worthwhile site with interesting tidbits. And I love tidbits. My brain at this point has only so much space to process and HOLD information and the following belongs in the category of must know. Especially when one belongs to the bloggers against torture:

to an amazing new blog on torture-Torture Survivors and Support Coalition one that invites survivors of torture to write and dialog.

Its first entry is from Sister Dianna Ortiz, herself a torture survivor.

As you remember, I first spoke of Sister Dianna during the Bloggers Month Against Torture as one of my entries on torture and Latin America.
Hers is a sad witnessing. She was working in Guatemala with the Mayan peoples in 1989, when she was seized by forces working for the Guatemalan government, tortured and raped by people trained by the US government, and working under the watchful eye of the CIA.

This is what Reagan, George H.W. Bush and the CIA have done in the name of the American people- in your name.

These are the words that they have taught Sister Dianna Ortiz to speak.
It is an insidious vocabulary that shames us all.

read the rest and listen to Sister Dianna here
(courtesy of James over at Left End of the Dial)

Here is the link to the blog: Torture Survivors Converse With One Another

Thank you Zazou! (see her February 11,2007 entry)

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Eliza Gilkyson, Cienfuegos...Austin Texas

Last night, my husband and I went to our children's school fundraiser which ended up being a great deal of fun. I worried at first about finding the right things to wear (be woman, worry about clothes), and then I decided to just 'forget about it' and not worry as the people in 'our school' are mostly South Austinites, born and raised or adopted ones. South Austinites are more relaxed about dress codes, life styles, and are politically diverse. So some people were very dressed up and some were not, and no one cared. The venue was beautiful and we only had to turn around once because we did not know where it was and zoomed right past. The One World Theater is a great intimate venue especially for music and multi purpose events such as our fundraiser. In one big room, we had the silent auction items lay-out plus the food with tall small tables to stand by and put your plates and drinks down. Great for mingling and keeping people moving, especially moving around the center display area with the items. Another area outside of that must be used as an outside eating area as this big clear plastic tent cover (and I mean big, as in tall) was used since the evenings here are still kinda chilly where there were regular round tables where people could sit and eat and talk. Upstairs was the actual stage and music area. Two music performances were billed for this fundraiser; Eliza Gilkyson and Cienfuegos, an Austin based Cuban band that also plays bolero and other latin styles. (can't dowload picture from their site, check it out)

It ended up being too late for us to enjoy any of Cienfuegos (it was time to return home plus we were tired) but we certainly got to enjoy Eliza Gilkyson. So much so, my husband bought her cd Paradise Hotel last night from which she played several songs.

Check out " Borderline" and "Man of God" and other tracks from her album. I would almost say her voice sounds better live than on the cd but let's instead say unlike a lot of 'doctored' singers (and especially those packaged ones, you know who you are!), she is a true performer who can carry her weight in gold recorded AND live. The One World Theater also had great acoustics but nevertheless, Eliza's voice sounded so ageless and 'young'. I can imagine her being an octogenarian and still sounding young, unlike some singers like say, Bob Dylan who sounded 80 when he was younger!

Anyhow.. we had a great evening, came home 5 hours after the fact and won a bid with the silent auction for an introductory Karate lesson plus 2mos worth classes.
The new baby sitter turned out just fine and hopefully there will be more dates in the future. I certainly could get used to it. Especially listening to some great LIVE music, which Austin is famous for.
Sigh, too bad we can't go back there tonight and see Kenny Loggins!

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