Monday, March 26, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
It works well because people respond who need or would just like the things offered/ No money changes hands. It's a sort of barter system. The only thing you have to watch for is that an unsavory person might show up. But first you talk on the phone and arrange an off-site meeting place if you have any qualms.
I had two reversible goosedown comforters (red on one side, beige on the other) that I was getting tired of. They were about six years old, boring, and too warm most of the time. So I bought pretty cotton quilts at Target to replace them and daughter said she'd freecycle the quilts for me. Within five minutes she got ten requests and the first person to respond picked them up this morning.
My gain? The new cotton quilts--so comfortable and easy-breathing--instead of the usual insomnia, I now fall asleep under them immediately.
Below, an excerpt from a review of a new book. Remember the four civilian workers in Iraq who were killed, burned, and their body parts hung up on a bridge? They worked for Blackwell, an American corporation specializing in private armies.. Jeremy Scahill's new book, "Blackwater" tells the story.Here's a link to the complete review: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/3/25/112857/665
Sun Mar 25, 2007 at 08:34:30 AM PDT
The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army
By Jeremy Scahill
Nation Books, Avalon Publishing
New York, 2007
"The Blackwater corporation is quickly becoming one of the most powerful private armies in the world, and several of its top officials are extreme religious zealots, some of whom appear to believe they are engaged in an epic battle for the defense of Christendom. .... For its vaunted American forces, Blackwater has expanded the mercenary motivating factor (or rationalization) beyond simple monetary gain (though that remains a major factor) to a duty-oriented, patriotic justification. Naturally the MSM is ignoring this.
"Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater would be a masterpiece of the genre of futuristic sci fi were it not so regrettably real. It’s got all the twists and turns and secret corners of a Hollywood thriller: records and contracts that can’t be traced, shady characters recruiting other shady characters in violent Third World nations, extremist religious figures lurking in the background of a mysterious unregulated company that uses PR tactics worthy of Orwell. Unfortunately for America, we’re living the plot in real time.
"The use of these contractors raises an even more alarming prospect, if followed to its logical conclusion: why not cut governments out altogether? As multi-national corporations continue to grow and exercise a power greater than that of many nations, what’s to prevent them from employing their own private armies – as they do now with smaller, more passive security forces – and ignoring all laws of any country, the ones they’re occupying or the ones they’re at least nominally registered in?"
Saturday, March 24, 2007
"House' benefits from tight, intelligent, knowing scripts and the appeal of a fine ensemble cast. Integral are the conflicts that arise between House, Cuddy, Foreman, Chase, and Cameron as they all struggle not only for the medical solution in each week's case, but also to resolve issues between each other. As an American I can attest to Hugh Laurie's astonishingly spot-on accent. While it's not regional (not Southern, Midwestern, or Eastern Seaboard), Laurie manages to make it sound absolutely authentic. Many people I know here in the U.S. were astonished to learn that Laurie is British. Usually when British actors assume an American accent, we wince--it's so patently wrong. Even Laurence Oliver couldn't quite master it. A little troubling is the fact that Chase, Foreman, and Cameron can't continue to train under House's guidance forever. It's sad to think of them being replaced. But attractive as they are in the show, in real life they would be moving on to separate professional careers. One wish of mine is for Wilson to have a larger role. Robert Sean Leonard is a respected Broadway actor who could add more to the show.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
New York Times headline today:
Star in New Role, Gore Revisits Old Stage
By MARK LEIBOVICH and PATRICK HEALY 2 minutes ago
"For Al Gore, returning to Capitol Hill is akin to a recovering alcoholic returning to a neighborhood bar."
Can't bear to read the report--perhaps tomorrow I will while holding my nose.
Ross spent two days in New York with Papa and his last wife Mary and she makes us feel we're there too with them in the Sherry Netherland hotel suite, drinking champagne, schmoozing with Dietrich, helping Papa buy a coat at Abercrombie (he didn't own one)., and revisiting some of his favorite pictures at the Met He wanted to see the two Brueghels again but the room was closed for repainting. His favorites were some Renaissance canvasses and Cezanne. He compared his writing techniques with the mountains in Cezanne's works.
Ross had already visited Hemingway at his home in Ketchum, Idaho before she met him and Mary at Idlewild Airport in New York. (Oh why oh why did they let that lovely name go when they renamed it JFK.) In 1950 I too arrived at Idlewild--named for the flower growing in the nearby marshes. Not the same day or time as Papa unfortunately.
Perhaps it's the way Ross captured Hemingway's speech patterns that brought him to life. Interesting that she and he came in for criticism from readers after the profile appeared. They didn't like the honest portrait of him. One thing I didn't like and attitudes have changed over the past 50 years is the talk of hunting. Seems a shame that after gallantly enduring the long migration to Cuba a duck has to be shot out of the air for fun. Even mink coats and elephant heads on the wall seem repugnant.
Ross is still alive and still writing short pieces for the New Yorker. She must be 85 or more. I wonder if any current New Yorker profile ever can match those written by Lillian Ross.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
I'm coming back to life again and regaining my outrage at all the horrors I see in the world brought about by the U.S. I think of John Carre's MI5 agents who took every opportunity to despise their CIA counterparts--the American Cousins they called them, but not in a flattering way.
This morning watched the This Week news program. News has turned into gossip here. First the panel went on an on about the Atty. General who will most probably resign. Then inordinate time wasted on gays in the military. 160,000 gays have been dismissed even though many of them had really usable talents, like translating Arabic. The policy is "Don't ask;don't tell." In other words, so long as they lie about their orientation they stay in. The cost of replacing them (training etc.) is astronomical. Britain, Israel, and others all have an open policy. We're so stupid here it's sickening. Politicians steer clear of global warming. Instead, they get bogged down by issues like gays and flag burning. Finally the panel mused about whether Al Gore might declare his candidacy for pres. Sneeringly they agreed that he's waiting to be begged.
Now we hear that Fred Thompson, actor, who plays a politician on television's hugely popular Law & Order might run for President (Republican). He looks like a Bassett hound with syrupy southern accent. We just don't need another actor--but he's a long shot indeed.
Other than that, things are fine .
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
Saturday, March 10, 2007
But there has always existed a fear that the public would not condone the idea of women returning home in caskets or physically damaged. A nation raised to believe that women belong on pedestals would not like to see its mothers and sisters returning from war as damaged goods. But in Bush's war it's been proven that the great American public has not risen up in protest. Women are returning to parents, husbands, children, and friends with horrifying and multiple injuries, physical and psychological, and apparently nobody cares very much that they were sent into harm's way in the first place. Another prized American value gone down the drain? It also goes without saying that our nation does not prize its male soldiers much either, based on the short shrift they are receiving from our government and the Veterans Administration. Strange, don't you think?
Friday, March 2, 2007
Lines from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
Life in itself
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.
—from "Spring" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I found these lines on Poets.org in a section entitled Life/Lines. Readers are invited to share lines that have stayed with them over the years and explain why they feel they are important. Here's what a reader says about Millay's lines:
"Even before Eliot named April cruel, Millay was there asking questions about the significance of that month's facile promise and eternal return. I admire the bravado with which she parcels out her wildly irregular lines. As well as the way she formally emphasizes April's momentary hope — set against life's continual difficulty and occasional danger — by setting “April” on a line of it's own. That bold gesture also delays ever so slightly the final disquieting image of April as some babbling daffy aunt who runs down a hill throwing flowers onto the new green. When have I thought of these lines? Endless times. And not just in April. Once in March I was in Austin, Texas while back home in Chicago, which was home then, it was still cold and trees were just sticks stuck in the cold ground. In and out of Austin, the highway medians were filled with wildflowers. There have been times since then when, in an icy March, I've thought of that Austin scene; the recollection of those strewn flowers that mark the roadways there takes me straight to the image of Millay's April as one who mindlessly and wantonly makes the moment pretty but delivers no lasting relief to those who feel the world leaning hard against them."
Mary Jo Bang
St. Louis, Missouri