Monday, March 26, 2007


"If You're Not Angry, You're Not Paying Attention."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bill Mahr Smacks Down Bush on Patriotism

Click here for the video of Maher's "New Rules" segment, which ended with the new rule that traitors don't get to question his patriotism, and here for the rest of the transcript of that segment.

I Free-Cycle My Quilts

These days many towns including those in my area operate a Free-cycling system. It's an organized network, using the internet to help people who are tired of things they have or have no more use for them, to offer them free for the pickup. It's one of the many ideas emerging from the save-the-planet movement.

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:

by SusanG

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: My Comment in The Guardian

"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.

Doctors Like a Good Attitude

"Doctors advise a good attitude as part of "patient management", I think. It's easier for them to deal with a patient who is on best behavior - and more compliant. They like "good patients" who don't question or speak out - and kill them regularly."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gore Watch: Snide Press Comments

[Keeping track of spiteful remarks in the New York Times headlines or reports--and other publications.]

New York Times headline today:

Star in New Role, Gore Revisits Old Stage


"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.

Barak Obama on Larry King Last Night

Obama's my man. What an impressive hour. Intelligent, thorough, and adroit answers to Larry King's questions, including King's "gotcha" ones and the stupid ones, which Barak skillfully redirected into important points he wanted to raise.

Hemingway in New York in 1950

Recently read Lillian Ross's Portrait of Hemingway, published as a Profile in a 1950 issue of The New Yorker and reproduced in a Modern Library paperback in 1999. (79 pp. including an introduction and afterword).

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

More on Women Soldiers

NYTimes Magazine today features a lengthy story on the trials and tribulations of women soldiers on their return home. Anecodotes from many who are suffering from physical and mental traumas. One out of ten soldiers are now women. Many volunteers have suffered from abuse at home and look for an escape only to be abused in Iraq. The military time and again wriggles out of responsibility for the many rapes that have taken place.

An Inconvenient Truth

Last night we saw An Inconvenient Truth--P for the first time, me for the second. Got it from Netflix. What a fascinating documentary--we had our eyes glued to it. Unexpectedly, Gore has become an excellent teacher, speaking in quiet, melodious tones and showing us evidence that few (even Bush finally) can reject. He said he had given the lecture over 1,000 times across the world. Boggles the mind. Standouts include his family's former tobacco farm and the decision to stop growing tobacco; the freezing of the gulf stream and Europe trapped in another ice age. Also, the polar ice caps and what's happening there already to the permafrost in the north and the melting of ice in the south. It was jolting to see a picture of Lake Chad in its prime and now reduced to a mud pile. I would say it's 99 and nine tenths per cent likely that Bush hasn't seen it. He doesn't call himself "The Decider" for nothing.

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

Plato Said It!

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. ~Plato

Friday, March 16, 2007

House is Intelligent and Marvelous

Just watched an episode of House. Hugh Laurie is marvelous in it--American accent spot on. Such an intelligent hour. The plot concerned the patient's (a trumpeter compared favorably to Louis Armstrong) and his wish to not be resuscitated. A tussle ensued between Dr. House and another doctor flown in specially from L.A. A court hearing was included. As the patient walked out of the hospital he handed House a present. An old battered case containing one of his trumpets. Even the irascible House was moved. Sweet!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Women Soldiers in Harm's Way

The Village Green's post on women soldiers in today's war coincided in a timely way with a recent Newsweek cover story on the injured in harm's way at Walter Reed. The person chosen for the cover portrait is a wounded woman, with two legs gone. She is shown on a chair, sitting on her bandaged stumps. Until this war, the government had resisted sending women up to the front lines and imminent danger, even though the Civil Rights Ats of the 1960s have accomplished much in giving equal rights to women including the right to serve the nation on equal terms.

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

Edna St. Vincent Millay Greets the Spring....

Glad March is here. We're on the back end of a winter that began with a beguiling warmth that lasted through Christmas and beyond. But when we thought we would come through unscathed by harsh cold, the Great St. Valentine's Snowstorm of 2007 shook us back to reality with below zero weather, snow by the foot, clogged roads, and closed schools. March itself is no picnic, but it beckons us onward to the green grass and tender shoots of April.

Lines from a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Life in itself
is nothing.
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 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