Weblog Archives




  Saturday   November 8   2003


The Meatrix

Moofius gives Leo a choice.


 11:03 PM - link

The Cancer Cells
by Uri Avnery

The Palestinians, of course, suffer more than anyone else. Any who come near the settlement are shot. Anything that was standing or growing nearby, or along the road, has been destroyed or uprooted long ago. This week, the army demolished two Palestinian high-rise apartment blocks, each 12 floors high, some hundreds of meters from the settlement, because from there the goings on in the settlement could be "observed". This is typical: like a cancer in the body that gradually extends its malign influence, every settlement slowly destroys its surroundings in an ever-widening circle.

The process can be outlined as follows:
(1) On a hilltop, an "outpost" consisting of one or two mobile homes is set up without government permission.
(2) The government declares that it will not tolerate such illegal actions and talks about removing it.
(3) The army sends soldiers to defend the outpost, saying that it cannot leave Jews in a hostile region without protection as long as they are there, even illegally.
(4) For the same reason, the outpost is connected to the water, electricity and telephone networks.
(5) The discussion in the cabinet is postponed, and in the meantime the settlement expands.
(6) The cabinet decides to accept the accomplished fact and the outpost becomes a legal settlement.
(7) The Military Governor expropriates large stretches of cultivated land for the development of the settlement.
(8) A bypass road is build to allow for the safe movement of the settlers and soldiers. For this purpose, the army expropriates more stretches of cultivated land from the neighboring Palestinian villages. The road with its "security area" is 60-80 meters wide.
(9) Palestinians try to attack the settlement that stands on their land.
(10) To prevent attacks on the settlement, an area 400 meters wide around the settlement is declared a "security zone" closed to Palestinians. The olive groves and fields in this area are lost to their owners.
(11) This provides the motivation for more attacks.
(12) For security reasons, the army uproots all trees that might afford cover for an attack on the settlement or the road leading to it. The army has even invented a new Hebrew word for it, something like "exposuring".
(13) The army destroys all buildings from which the settlement or the road could be attacked.
(14) For good measure, all buildings from which the settlement can be observed are demolished, too.
(15) Anyone who comes near the settlement is shot, on suspicion that he has come to spy or attack.

This way the settlement sows death and destruction in a ever-widening circle. The life of the Palestinian villages in the neighborhood becomes hellish. They lose the sources of their livelihood. Hundreds of such villages find themselves trapped between two or more settlements, which close in on all sides, sometimes right up to their courtyards. Their lives and their property are at the mercy of gangs of settlers.

This process has already been going on for decades all over the occupied territories. It is a slow, continuous, day-to-day offensive, unseen by Israeli eyes. Last year, the "separation fence" was added, a monster that snakes its way deep into the West Bank in order to "defend" the settlements. It makes the life of hundreds of thousand of Palestinians well-nigh impossible.

Death of a town
With ruthless efficiency, the Israeli army has been crushing and rocketing the Palestinian refugee town of Rafah in a manner which rivals the destruction of Jenin last year. But it is all in the name of stopping terrorism so the international community has remained silent.

For two weeks now, the Israeli army has been grinding its way through Rafah refugee camp in the southern tip of the Gaza strip. "Operation Root Canal" is ostensibly aimed at destroying some of the dozens of tunnels the military says are used for smuggling weapons under the border with Egypt.

As about 65 tanks, armoured vehicles and mammoth armour-plated bulldozers rolled into Rafah, the Israeli army said it had intelligence that surface-to-air missiles were being hauled through the tunnels. But there was no sign of them as dozens of Palestinians attempted to exact some kind of price for the attack with pistols, AK-47s and homemade hand grenades. By the time the Israelis withdrew to the fringes of the camp where the tanks and bulldozers are perpetually at work, 18 Palestinians were dead, including three children under 15 years old, and more than 120 were wounded.

Just three tunnels were found, and no weapons. But in the process, the military crushed or rocketed nearly 200 homes, throwing about 1,700 people onto the street. The army claimed it never happened, that just 10 homes were wrecked, and then sent back the bulldozers to grind the evidence that the houses ever existed into the dirt.

For the governor of Rafah, Majid Ghal, the claims about tunnels and resistance are all nonsense. He says the demolitions are yet another grab for Palestinian land. "What they are doing is to carve out a buffer zone between Rafah and the border. The Israelis have always said they do not want Palestine to control its borders or to have borders with other countries. They are trying to drive people out," he says.

The army denies any such motive. But a clue to Israeli intent can be found in comments made on Israel radio a year ago by the then head of the military's southern command, which has responsibility for Gaza. Colonel Yom Tov Samya said house demolition was a policy and an end in itself, not a by-product of a search for tunnels. "The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) has to knock down all the houses along a strip of 300 to 400 metres. It doesn't matter what the future settlement will be, this will be the border with Egypt," he said. "Arafat has to be punished, and after every terrorist attack another two or three rows or houses on the Palestinian side of the border have to be knocked down ... This is a long-term policy. We simply have to take a very extreme step. It is do-able and I am happy it is being done, but it's being carried out in doses that are too small, I regret to say. It has to be done in one big operation."

  thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog

Captives Behind Sharon's Wall
Silence in the Face of Israeli Apatheid

As the government of the Jewish state forces the Palestinians in ghettos, history must be turning in its grave. Qalqiliya, a city of 45,000, has been surrounded by a concrete wall and only those who are granted permits by the Civil Administration can enter and exit the city's single gate.

A disastrous dead end: the Geneva Accord

Because of the Oslo process, the basis for a viable and minimally fair two-state solution has been completely destroyed. The Israeli "peace camp" and the Palestinian leadership ought to have learned from the calamities they helped bring about and changed their ways. The so-called "Geneva Accord," an informal agreement prepared by Israelis, led by former Labor Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and other Oslo-era luminaries, and Palestinians close to Yasser Arafat, demonstrates a determination to repeat the tragic errors of the past.

  thanks to Aron's Israel Peace Weblog

 10:50 PM - link

medical art

Robert Carswell
Pathological Anatomy
Illustrations of the Elementary Forms of Disease

London: 1838

This beautifully illustrated folio volume consists of forty four coloured lithograph plates with accompanying descriptions of various pathological conditions. The text and the drawings were undertaken by Sir Robert Carswell, who was both a distinguished practitioner of pathology and a skilled artist. Perhaps overshadowed by more well known anatomical atlases, this is a monumental work that deserves further study.


  thanks to Solipsistic

 09:48 PM - link

john perry barlow

Surreality TV: From Burning Man To Running Man

Governor Schwartzenegger.

I repeat. Governor Schwartzenegger.

That's right. Say it aloud several times. Who needs drugs to feel like they're hallucinating?

But I get ahead of myself.

Let me back up to my last communiqué, dispatched as I was heading off to Burning Man, muttering darkly about taking Serious Measures to Reorganize my Strategy, implying that I would return from Black Rock City with a clarified sense of direction and purpose.

Well, I did. Sort of. It is true that Burning Man provided me some chewy food for thought. I found myself fundamentally questioning the Bohemianism to which I have been firmly committed since I reacted to turning 14 in a hick Wyoming town by buying a motorcycle, leading my Mormon Boy Scout troop into depravity, reading "On the Road," and learning how to smirk like James Dean.

If someone like Karl Rove had wanted to neutralize the most creative, intelligent, and passionate members of his opposition, he'd have a hard time coming up with a better tool than Burning Man. Exile them to the wilderness, give them a culture in which alpha status requires months of focus and resource-consumptive preparation, provide them with metric tons of psychotropic confusicants, and then . . . ignore them. It's a pretty safe bet that they won't be out registering voters, or doing anything that might actually threaten electoral change, when they have an art car to build.

  thanks to wood s lot

 09:42 PM - link


I just got off the phone with Zoe. She said to say hi, so — Hi! She is feeling some better.

 09:38 PM - link


Look At Me

LOOK AT ME is a collection of found photos.

These photos were either lost, forgotten, or thrown away. The images now are nameless, without connection to the people they show, or the photographer who took them. Maybe someone died and a relative threw away their photographs; maybe someone thought they were trash.

Some of the photos were found on the street. Some were stacked in a box, bought cheap at a flea market. Showing off or embarrassed, smug, sometimes happy, the people in these photos are strangers to us. They can't help but be interesting, as stories with only an introduction.


  thanks to Conscientious

 08:56 PM - link

tortue the american way — outsourcing

This is What They Did to Me
They Put a Bag Over My Head & Flew Me To Syria for Torture and Interrogation

I am a Syrian-born Canadian. I moved here with my parents when I was 17 years old. I went to university and studied hard, and eventually obtained a Masters degree in telecommunications.

I met my wife, Monia at McGill University. We fell in love and eventually married in 1994. I knew then that she was special, but I had no idea how special she would turn out to be.

If it were not for her, I believe I would still be in prison.

My flight arrived in New York at 2 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2002. I had a few hours to wait until my connecting flight to Montreal.

This is when my nightmare began. I was pulled aside at immigration and taken to another area.

They asked me about what I think about bin Laden, Palestine, Iraq. They also asked me about the mosques I pray in, my bank accounts, my e-mail addresses, my relatives, about everything.

This continued on and off for eight hours.

Then a man from the INS came in and told me they wanted me to volunteer to go to Syria. I said no way.

I said I wanted to go home to Canada or sent back to Switzerland. He said to me 'you are a special interest.' They asked me to sign a form. They would not let me read it, but I just signed it. I was exhausted and confused and disoriented.

Then we flew to Portland, to Rome, and then to Amman, Jordan. All the time I was on the plane I was thinking how to avoid being tortured. I was very scared.

We landed in Amman at three in the morning local time on Oct. 9. They took me out of plane and there were six or seven Jordanian men waiting for us.

They blindfolded and chained me, and put me in a van. They made me bend my head down in the back seat. Then, these men started beating me. Every time I tried to talk they beat me.

 06:58 PM - link


Alvin Langdon Coburn

A Passage Between Tall Lands, Wier's Close, Edinburgh, 1905


  thanks to wood s lot

Alvin Coburn

Alvin Langdon Coburn was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 11th June, 1882. Coburn was an amateur photographer until he met Edward Steichen in 1899.

 01:05 PM - link

one party political system

A Few Bad Men

And so on. None of these changes are illegal, but I think they make it pretty clear that the GOP's ultimate objective is the consolidation of a one-party system in this country -- in fact if not literally in name.

The unwritten rules exist because both political parties accept the possibility they may one day be in the minority, and thus have a vested interest in preserving rights or privileges they themselves may need to exercise. But if one of the parties has no intention of ever losing again -- or at least, is willing to gamble on its ability to avoid ever losing again -- then it will no longer have an incentive to support minority rights, but will have every incentive to try to abolish them, if possible.

The next step is to start breaking the written rules, if and when you think you can get away with it. The Valerie Plame affair, and the leak of the Democratic staff memo from the Senate Intelligence Committee (just to mention a couple of the things we actually know about) suggest the Republicans have already reached that point.

It's a curious way for a democracy to die -- one small cut at a time, with the media (who should have a vested interest in preserving democracy) standing on the sidelines and cheering for the people who are gradually squeezing the life out of it.

But I suppose Col. Jessep -- the Jack Nicholson character in A Few Good Men -- was right: Some people really can't handle the truth. And they don't want anybody else to handle it, either.

 12:59 PM - link


Ellen Kooi


  thanks to Conscientious

 12:33 PM - link

russia and the neo-con revolution

Oligarchs R Us
Deep politics swirl behind the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

There is big news brewing in Russia this week, and America is being sold a line of goods about what’s happening there. The coverage of the arrest by the Vladimir Putin administration of "businessman" Mikhail Khodorkovsky has featured such grossly, shockingly transparent propaganda that it could hardly have been worse during the Cold War. What’s more, some of my old friends—they know who they are—are participating in it.

This story, about the politically motivated arrest of Khodorkovsky, the Croseus-rich tycoon who heads the oil company Yukos, is in fact an important story for the ordinary American. The clash between two of the world’s baddest gangsters—Putin and Khodorkovsky—is also a great symbolic battle, each side representing one of the two great remaining pretenders to global rule.

Putin represents the past, which also happens to be the American present: the fictional democracy, in fact a ruthless oligarchy of corporate interests, with the state as the castrated referee.

Khodorkovsky represents the future: no referee. Which is why our media establishment has chosen to take up arms for him. They are making his case into an open referendum on the neo-con revolution that until now has been fought in a largely clandestine manner here at home

Many of us who spent the 90s in Russia became aware over time that the aim of the United States was to create a rump state that would allow economic interests to strip assets at will. The population in this scheme was to be good for consuming foreign goods produced abroad with Russia’s own cheaply sold raw materials. The aim was a castrated state, anarchy, a vast, confused territory of captive consumers, cheap labor and unguarded oil and aluminum.

Some of us who came home after seeing this began to realize that the same process is underway in the United States: the erosion of the tax base, the gradual appropriation of the tools of government by economic interests, a massive, disorganized population useless to everybody except as shoppers. That is their revolution: smashing states everywhere and creating a scattered global nation of villas and tax shelters, as inaccessible as Olympus, forbidding entry even to mighty dictators

  thanks to Eschaton

 12:30 PM - link

plep's excellent adventure

Plep is in Nepal linking as he travels.


Bhaktapur is in many ways the most medieval of the three major cities in the Kathmandu valley. Much of its glorious architecture dates from the end of the 17th century. Bhaktapur is about 35km south east of Kathmandu's city centre and is easily reached by bus or minibus. Foreigners have to purchase a ticket to visit the town.

Square with Batsala temple


 12:17 PM - link

this is why we have regulations

Mutual fund fleecing
Pay attention, little people -- your retirement account is in bad hands
by Molly Ivins

I'd really like to know: What were they thinking? What did the traders, directors and managers of mutual funds think they were doing? Did they think, "Everybody does it?" Did they figure, "It's not really stealing; not actually taking money away from someone, it's just that they won't make as much as they might have?" Did they think the big customers were entitled to more? Why?

A series of mutual fund folks appeared before the Senate governmental affairs hearing on the issue this week. "Outrage," "Shocking," "Betrayal," they all said. Better compliance system, rule changes, regulatory action, reforms, restitution, they all said. Among other things, these Senate hearings should be required viewing for every right-wing ideologue who rants against government regulations -- those horrible, onerous government regulations. If you want to know why government regulations get written in the first place, this is the perfect opportunity. It's a huge, stinking scandal that affects the savings and pensions of millions of people, and the very people who created it are now begging for new regulations.

'Skimming Operation'

Senator rips mutual funds

A fuller, darker picture of trading abuses within the mutual fund industry emerged yesterday as another high-level executive resigned under pressure.

In a hearing on Capitol Hill, regulators presented evidence of a two-tiered system where professional insiders and big investors benefit at the expense of small shareholders.

  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 11:58 AM - link

what is art?

Judith Scott

Judith Scott (born 1943), a fifty-five year old woman with Down's Syndrome, has spent the past ten years producing a series of totally non-functional objects which, to us, appear to be works of sculpture, except that the notion of sculpture is far beyond Judith's understanding. As well as being mentally handicapped, Judith cannot hear or speak, and she has little concept of language. There is no way of asking her what she is doing, yet her compulsive involvement with the shaping of abstract forms in space seems to imply that at some level she knows. Judith possesses no concept of art, no understanding of its meaning or function. She does not know that she is an artist, nor does she understand that the objects she creates are perceived by others as works of art. Whatever she is doing she is definitely not concerned with the making of art. What then is she doing?


  thanks to Geisha asobi blog

 11:40 AM - link

  Friday   November 7   2003


I'm starting to get caught up. The good news is that I've been very busy with jobs that actually pay money. There is a lot to the concept of positive cash flow. I could get used to it. The bad news is that Zoe has not been doing well. The gut pain returned with a vengance early in the week and she spent Wednesday night in the hospital. Fortunately it was only for the night and she came home yesterday feeling better. We suspect that the stay helped take care of the episode but not the chronic condition.

I finally got the archive of Judy Madigson's TestingTesting show on Monday up. Enjoy.

The TestingTesting House Band and Judy Madigson.

I'm hoping to resume regularly scheduled linking soon.

 11:59 AM - link

  Monday   November 3   2003


It's Monday and time for another TestingTesting webcast from my living room. Tonight we have Judy Magidson with some singing and flat pick and finger style guitar. The TestingTesting House Band will be Derek Parrott, Joanne Rouse, Steve Showell, and Lisa Toomey. Barton Cole will be back with his "Commentary from the Wires." So click on in for a fun hour (or so) of living room music.

 08:01 AM - link

  Sunday   November 2   2003


Earth As Art
A Landsat Perspective

This exhibition showcases Landsat 7 images, from the collection of Landsat photographs held in the Geography and Map Division, which have been selected for aesthetic rather than scientific value. These images are actual pictures of the Earth, created by printing visible and infrared data in colors visible to the human eye. Band combinations and colors were chosen to optimize their dramatic appearance.

Dasht-e Kevir.

The Dasht-e Kevir, or Great Salt Desert, is the largest desert in Iran. It is a primarily uninhabited wasteland, composed of mud and salt marshes covered with crusts of salt that protect the meager moisture from completely evaporating.

  thanks to Coudal Partners

 11:49 AM - link

iraq — vietnam on internet time

This is a long must read.

Blueprint for a Mess

Call it liberation or occupation, a dominating American presence in Iraq was probably destined to be more difficult, and more costly in money and in blood, than administration officials claimed in the months leading up to the war. But it need not have been this difficult. Had the military been as meticulous in planning its strategy and tactics for the postwar as it was in planning its actions on the battlefield, the looting of Baghdad, with all its disastrous material and institutional and psychological consequences, might have been stopped before it got out of control. Had the collective knowledge embedded in the Future of Iraq Project been seized upon, rather than repudiated by, the Pentagon after it gained effective control of the war and postwar planning a few months before the war began, a genuine collaboration between the American authorities and Iraqis, both within the country and from the exiles, might have evolved. And had the lessons of nation-building -- its practice but also its inevitability in the wars of the 21st century -- been embraced by the Bush administration, rather than dismissed out of hand, then the opportunities that did exist in postwar Iraq would not have been squandered as, in fact, they were

The real lesson of the postwar mess is that while occupying and reconstructing Iraq was bound to be difficult, the fact that it may be turning into a quagmire is not a result of fate, but rather (as quagmires usually are) a result of poor planning and wishful thinking. Both have been in evidence to a troubling degree in American policy almost from the moment the decision was made to overthrow Saddam Hussein's bestial dictatorship.

Chopper Shot Down in Iraq, Killing 15 GIs

Insurgents shot down a U.S. Chinook helicopter in central Iraq on Sunday as it carried troops headed for R&R, killing 15 soldiers and wounding 21 in the deadliest single strike against American troops since the start of war.

The attack by a shoulder-fired missile was a significant new blow in an Iraq insurgency that escalated in recent days -- a "tough week," in the words of the U.S. occupation chief.

Iraq Needs More GIs

Currently neo-conservative pundits, mindful of what the escalating U.S. death toll could do to Bush's re-election chances next year, are advocating a new "quick fix" or magic bullet" -- turning over primary security functions to newly trained Iraqi formations as soon as possible. But ensuring that such forces can be organized, trained, security vetted and guaranteed loyal and reliable in only a few months is going to be a tall order -- indeed, a miraculous one.

In the meantime, as the car bombs continue to explode and the rocket mortars have started to target U.S. strongholds. One of them narrowly missed killing Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz in his own hotel this week.

Wolfowitz's narrow escape underlined a grim, now-evident truth about Iraq. It could be conquered on the cheap. It cannot be held that way.

  thanks to Whiskey Bar

Bush still talks tough as our troops die

Our commander in chief sayeth:

[Bush] cited the work of Operation Ivy Focus, a series of raids by the Army's 4th Infantry Division, that he says has led to the capture of more than 100 former members of Saddam's government in a little more than a month.

"In other operations, those soldiers have also seized hundreds of weapons, thousands of rounds of ammunition and explosives, and hundreds of thousands of dollars suspected of being used to finance terror operations," he said.

Hundreds of weapons? Thousands of rounds of ammo? Is this a joke? In a country with millions of weapons (literally), and hundreds of millions of rounds of ammo, this isn't even a proverbial drop in the bucket.

Rebel war spirals out of control as US intelligence loses the plot

Bush's other war
US intelligence is being scapegoated for getting it right on Iraq

Supply Side Nirvana

The Red Cross and Terrorism

In the '70s, members of Al Da'awa used to throw 'acid' in the faces of 'safirat' or females who don't wear the 'hijab', both in certain parts of Baghdad, and in certain areas in the south of Iraq. Shi'a clerics who didn't agree with their violent message, were often assassinated or assaulted.

The fact that they are currently one of the leading political parties involved with the "New Iraq" sends a wonderful message to 'terrorist organizations': Bombing works, terror works. People here are terrified we'll end up another Afghanistan? that these fundamentalist groups the CPA is currently flirting with are Iraq's Taliban.

Finally, there are all those strange, mystery attacks that no one understands and even the most extreme members of society can't condone or legitimatize. One such attack includes the attack on the UN headquarters. No one claimed responsibility for that. Another such attack was the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad? the Red Cross, the police stations... Many people believe that Al-Chalabi and his party are responsible for such incidents. Some of his guards are trained terrorists...

Al Chalabi arrived in April with a militia of Free Iraqi Fighters who, after several weeks of car hijacking, a few abductions, and some even say assassinations, suddenly disappeared? his 600+ thugs were supposedly 'interpreters'. I have very limited information on them, but someone said they were trained in Hungary? Today, people think they are acting as a sort of secret militia responsible for many of the assassinations and explosions all over Baghdad.


Ramadhan is a festive month, in many ways. It’s like the last two weeks of December- a little bit hectic, but important, all the same. It’s that month where you get to see all the family you never you knew you had- the intolerable cousins, the favorite aunt, the grandparents, nieces, nephews, uncles and even the great-uncle you thought had died last year. The whole month is sort of a ‘family month’.

The fasting works like this: at the break of dawn, we simply stop eating and drinking. This lasts through the whole day until ‘al maghrib’ or dusk. Fasting is considered one of the ‘arkan’ of Islam, which means it is required of all Muslims. There are certain exceptions- people who are ill aren’t required to fast during Ramadhan, and people who are traveling. If the fasting affects a person’s health in any way (i.e. if the person is diabetic, or pregnant, etc.), they are excused from fasting.

Of course, the ‘moral fasting’ comes with the physical fasting. In other words, a person can break their fast without using food. Gossiping, fighting, lying, cheating, angry words and more have to be avoided during Ramadhan, otherwise your fast, or ‘siyam’ is considered useless. Prayer and Quran reading are also stepped-up during the whole of the month because it is believed to be a ‘blessed month’.

Someone might ask, but why fast? What is the point of denying yourself food and drink for over half a day? Fasting is supposed to teach tolerance, patience, and hunger. Yes, hunger. The average person forgets what it’s like to be hungry… and I don’t mean the, wow-I-could-really-use-a-burger-and-some-fries type of hunger. I mean the hunger you feel when you haven’t had anything to eat or drink for over 12 hours and your stomach feels ready to cave in and your head feels like exploding because you didn’t get that zap of caffeine you need to function.

 11:38 AM - link


Bee Flowers


  thanks to Conscientious

 11:02 AM - link

Our Place in the World: Wall more about control than security

Expatriate Israelis, and Americans sympathetic to the Israeli cause, complain about the U.S. media's "anti-Israeli bias." Indeed, upon arriving from Israel last year, the image of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict portrayed by U.S. media appeared to me so distorted as to be almost unrecognizable. But the direction of the distortion was rather surprising.

This is the image I keep receiving here: On one side is a democracy stuck in an impossible region and trying to make the best of it. On the other is a demonic entity called the Palestinian Authority, whose heads seem bent on continuing to terrorize Israel's defenseless civilians. Everything Israel's army does is clearly out of self-defense, and as long as there's terror, there's justification to do even more.

How odd, I tell myself. This is exactly the worldview I've been spoon-fed by my establishment and education system from the day I remember myself.

The only true part in this image is that my compatriots in Israel are at risk of terror attacks. All the rest is blatantly false. For starters, the Palestinian Authority is a powerless, almost meaningless body, whose leaders cannot cross the street in Ramallah without permission from an Israeli soldier. Even at its heyday, the authority's power relative to Israel's was akin to that of the King County Council compared with the U.S. government. This little piece of knowledge alone collapses the entire image. It also raises serious suspicions as to who has been shaping the current reality.

That is not all: The ongoing "security fence" project is presented here as a defense measure and claims against it are made to sound as whining. Reporters fail to tell us that this is not a fence but a huge system of walls and ditches. Masked by a clever campaign of deceit, this system is gradually crisscrossing the Palestinian heartland. It rips apart some Palestinian towns and encroaches on the outskirts of others. Were the American public presented with pictures of the massive walls and fences already surrounding the town of Kalkilia, many might wonder whether this is about security or about repression and control.

The bluff goes on and on

However, something else is happening. The occupation is becoming ever deeper and more entrenched. This is obvious in the way that facts are being created in the territories. In cabinet meetings, or in communiques for the public, these developments go by other names. For example, "additional investments" to build hundreds of new homes in the territories, or "planning of the eastern fence," which is actually designed to confine all the Palestinians inside a fenced-off ghetto.

That was not the intention when the idea of building a fence was first broached; the idea was to build a fence as protection against terrorism and to prevent the large-scale, illegal entry of Palestinians into Israel. The abduction of the fence by the settlers, with the government's help, and its transformation from a defensive into a political barrier, is liable to deepen the occupation further.

Corridors of Power / Contemplating a no-win victory

In the IDF, they know there is no military solution to terror, but they are afraid to say this out loud, and certainly reluctant to draw the necessary conclusions from this. The IDF continues to make the utmost effort to fulfill the government's directives and to achieve quiet and security for the state's citizens under the present conditions, but deep down, its commanders know this is mission impossible. The more realistic among them are disheartened by their awareness of the chasm between the government's expectations of them and their ability to fulfill these expectations. Even the most honest among them are too proud to acknowledge the uselessness of their military actions and reject outright any suggestion that terror is able to exert a certain influence on the situation. They will not consent to the idea that there is a need to reach a compromise with the Palestinians, and they are also unable to put aside the compulsion to emerge from this conflict as well with a declaration of "victory."

 10:49 AM - link

hanna höch

Photomontage - Dada

Hannah Höch on Dada Photo Montages

Actually, we borrowed the idea from a trick of the official photographer of the Prussian army regiments. They used to have elaborate oleolithographed mounts, representing a group of uniformed men with a barracks or a landscape in the background, but with the faces cut out; in these mounts, the photographers then inserted photographic portraits of the faces of their customers, generally coloring them later by hand. But the aesthetic purpose, if any, of this very primitive kind of photo montage was to idealize reality, whereas the Dada photo monteur set out to give to something entirely unreal all the appearances of something real that had actually been photographed....

Our whole purpose was to integrate objects from the world of machines and industry in the world of art. Our typographical collages or montages set out to achieve this by imposing, on something which could only be produced by hand, the appearances of something that had been entirely composed by a machine; in an imaginative composition, we used to bring together elements borrowed form books, newspapers, posters, or leaflets, in an arrangement that no machine could yet compose.

The Photomontages of Hanna Höch

hanna hoch — Gallery of photomontages

Hanna Hoch

  all links thanks to wood s lot

 10:30 AM - link

religious civil war

There is a religious civil war going on in this country. Those on the right know this. Those on the left think getting rid of Bush will put things right. Not a chance. The theocratic forces, who could be classified as mentally ill, are on a mission from god and that excuses any action no matter how violent. This includes both evangelical Protestantism and conservative Catholicism. The election of an anti-Bush has the potential of setting off increasingly violent acts of domestic terrorism. These people will not rest until the godless are vanquished. As a leftist atheist, this does not comfort me.

The Crusaders
A powerful faction of religious and political conservatives is waging a latter-day counterreformation, battling widespread efforts to liberalize the American Catholic Church. And it has the clout and the connections to succeed.

There is a glow to the priest when he talks. Something lights him up inside, and its intensity is increased by the mild way he says what he's saying. The words, harsh and unyielding, seem not so much a departure from the mainstream as they do a living refutation that there is any mainstream at all, not one to which the priest has to pay any mind, anyway.

He is talking about a futuristic essay he wrote that rosily describes the aftermath of a "relatively bloodless" civil war that resulted in a Catholic Church purified of all dissent and the religious dismemberment of the United States of America.

"There's two questions there," says the Rev. C. John McCloskey 3d, smiling. He's something of a ringer for Howard Dean -- a comparison he resists, also with a smile -- a little more slender than the presidential candidate, perhaps, but no less fervent. "One is, Do I think it would be better that way? No. Do I think it's possible? Do I think it's possible for someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of family, over a period of time to choose to survive with people who think it's OK to kill women and children or for -- quote -- homosexual couples to exist and be recognized?

"No, I don't think that's possible," he says. "I don't know how it's going to work itself out, but I know it's not possible, and my hope and prayer is that it does not end in violence. But, unfortunately, in the past, these types of things have tended to end this way.

"If American Catholics feel that's troubling, let them. I don't feel it's troubling at all."

  thanks to Eschaton

 10:14 AM - link

paper plate geometry


These photos show models made from 9"diameter paper plates, during 1997-1999. They are taken from the book The Geometry of Wholemovement: folding the circle for information.

36 circles forming two cubes,
one formed and one exploded.


  thanks to Politics in the Zeros

 12:55 AM - link

anybody but bush

The Pledge

We hold this truth to be self-evident:

Having George W. Bush as President has been and will continue to be a disaster.

We will not let our partisanship towards any particular candidate for President cause us to lose sight of this basic truth. As such, we pledge ourselves not to become enablers of any campaign designed to divide us in our struggle to remove Bush from power. We pledge that no more will we be:

Tools of those who would disrupt the Anybody-But-Bush movement.

Partisans who would rather bring down the other guy's candidate than find reason to elevate our own.

Dupes who will automatically assume that anything negative about the other guy's candidate is more likely to be true than the negative things said about our guy.

Fools who lose sight of the ultimate goal: the defeat of George W. Bush on November 2nd, 2004.

We will uphold this pledge to the best of our ability.

We will encourage others to do the same.

This we do solemnly swear.

  thanks to BookNotes

 12:34 AM - link


Why Asparagus Makes Your Pee Stink

"This is of no practical importance," the urologist tells me. "It wasn't part of my training. It's something we contemplated over pizza and beer." When I admit that I have actually timed the arrival of the distinctive odor in my pee after eating asparagus (about 15 minutes), the good doctor suggests, facetiously, that my groundbreaking research might lead to a tenure-track position at a fine university.

It is a sadly neglected field. But I'm not the first to ask.

  thanks to Everlasting Blort

 12:25 AM - link