Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Costumes

This year I have been too lazy to think of a costume. I had a planned to go to a bar until I learned how much they charged as a cover. ( kind of silly since the guests themselves are providing most of the entertainment value.) I had considered going in full drag, something I have never dared to do, fearful that I might enjoy it and it become my latest obsession. (Somehow I doubt it, simply because of all the labor involved in being a woman, shaving and plucking and primping and spritzing and fiddling to no end.)

My funds are, anyway, a bit limited this year – it has been a very expensive year, if nothing else. As winter descends once again, there is no question between a down jacket that can warm these weary bones or a ZaZa Gabor wig with a fringe, spandex electric blue tights and leg warmers- fuchsia. It is hard to justify try as I might. Drag is always dicey but the option of only wearing used clothing.. well.. a lady has to have her standards. And even used clothing is pricey in New York, a warning to all you trannies from out of town!

Another problem is a fairly basic objection: I imagine that I would look like a fearsome woman and I cant imagine the expressions of suppressed terror I would inspire. However, on the other hand, there is always the slight but demoralizing possibility that I might just look more attractive as a woman than as a man and thereafter, begin to crave THAT sort of attention. Transvestitism has to begin somewhere, right?

In years past, I could devote a lot of time and energy to costume projects and, believe me, I came up with some doozies. The time I went to a Halloween party as a flasher was very very entertaining. The effect was produced by a flesh colored body suit- who would actually wear one anyway?. and THAT color? It was so tight and so convincing that as soon as I put it on, I felt too embarrassed to come out of the bathroom. I might as well have actually been nude. As a final flourish, I 110507-flasher-costumedappled the chest and stomach with black swirls to denote body hair. The women, oh how they mocked that, for some reason.

To complete the picture, I wore an oversized raincoat and a old pair of my father’s steel-toed work shoes. At the party, I would give a quick flap of my raincoat to my victims, causing to an interesting variety of reactions. From an embarrassed look away to a eyes wide dismay. After the alcohol set in, the shock wore off, replaced by playful grabbing and tussling. So the tables were unexpectedly turned from playing the role of the victimizer to the role of the pursued by screaming fat women who have had a bit too much to drink. That old story of popularity running amok.

The second best costume I manufactured was, in fact, a kind of failure. I managed to obtain one of those cardboard drums you find in warehouses, painted it red and added cursive lettering on the side. I cut a hole in the bottom and viola! I was a can of cola. There were a few problems that I immediately noticed when I got to the nightclub. Number one, there was no way I could sit without my head falling into the can. Since I had worn a minimum of clothing underneath, I decided against ditching the prop.. and what kind of costume was sweat pants and a thermal top? Also people for some reason began using me as a makeshift table for their drinks. Actually only the empty glasses, unfortunately. I received very few compliments despite my labor because, I later figured out, everybody thought I was an advertisement.

The only costume I ever won a prize for was in fact the easiest one. I had planned to go to my sister’s company Halloween party dressed as a fried egg. Delightful, I thought. Who had ever heard of it? but my sister told me that it was too wild and forbade me to dwell on it. She herself had rented an expensive and unimaginative Raggedy Ann doll outfit.

So, being at a loss for ideas, I carefully cut out of cardboard a template. I wrapped it all together with masking tape, sprayed it with steel grey spray paint and it became a wind up key. I was tied around my waist and I wore an ill fitting jacket over that. I became a wind-up toy. At first, nobody seemed to understand it and my sister was quite embarrassed- she should have been used to it. The judge however, was impressed, that's all that counts, after all, and I won a huge jug of white wine. Unfortunately, as we were returning home, the bottle slipped from hands and broke into a million vinegary-smelling shards.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Walk on the Last Day of Autumn

Staten Island Autumn Graveyard

Autumn street

The Guy who Wasn’t a Victim

3810247805_fb5c8cc2f7One thing I particularly enjoyed about living in Turkey was that it seemed a lot easier to understand things. It was as if I was able to see patterns and effects that had been partially hidden from my view throughout my life in the USA.

  Here is one of my favorite examples. I can’t recall the details but I believe the events occurred on a trip to Marmaris in the southwest coast of Turkey. We had booked a day cruise along with about 25 other tourists; as it turned out, our fellow passengers were mainly one  very extended British family. They were loud and made references that they  assumed we would somehow understand. I could not make out exactly who was who in this crowd. Whose children are they? Is that the father or the uncle or.. maybe the grandfather? Are those two husband and wife or brother and sister? Blessedly after a few beers, none of it really interested me any longer. Then, they became largely an annoyance and wearisome drone and cackle in my background.

Before lunch, we anchored in one of those crystal clear azure coves and all of us went for a swim. One young woman began making a big drama about not being able to dive off the back of the ship.  She wasn’t afraid of the water, she made it known, it was the diving part. So there she stood at the edge, making sure that everyone’s eyes were fixed on her, lingering and preparing and hesitating and moaning. The whole nine-yards, as they say.

At that moment, one of the crew, Mehmet, a short wiry fellow, decided it would be quite amusing to help things along a bit. I watched him as he moved up behind her, smiling at me in a slow-motion memory. With one mighty heave-ho, he pushed her off into the water. Only he didn’t. The woman managed to cling with superhuman strength by her toes to the edge. She was, as you would be, not amused and turned on the surprised Mehmet with a blaze of fury. She slapped his weak smile off his brown little face, though not very hard.

He turned and stomped off, in abject humiliation while she moaned and squeezed every drop of emotion from the event. The rest of the day was spent drearily telling and re-telling the event, from various perspectives. It was like a child playing with a video camera, backwards and forwards in at differing speeds.

A half hour later, while wandering around the ship, I met up with exiled Mehmet, peeling potatoes with bitter slashes of the knife. He whispered how rude the foreigners were, especially the woman who had slapped him. I nearly felt sorry for him but then I stopped myself.  The sympathetic smile dissolved.

As if a light had burst through the clouds. How many times had I seen this pattern of events? A person makes an error in judgment, some kind of miscalculation of the possible results, and calamity ensues. And somehow, the person at fault has recovered his balance, re-written the event and found incredibly to be the victim.  It is as if people have lost the profound concept of shame.. and without a sense of shame, remorse and reflection  are impossible. Instead of stopping for a moment and considering how our actions might have led us to this point, we now automatically seem to go into a kind of  "defense mode”, perfectly willing to recast the circumstances to match the self-deception we chose to play.

Someone might do all kinds of ill-mannered things to you and if you dare to stop them, they find a way to re-adjust the event to become a victim of your insensitivity and your heartlessness. For example, you are waiting in line for a bus, the bus comes and a man darts past you. You say, “Hold on there, mister.” And the man turns back at you with a astonished and furious glare. Immediately he begins a blustering, blistering tirade about your rudeness.  It can be extremely effective in silencing criticism and confusing any  critics. 

Too bad I wasn't brought up that way because people seem to get away with a lot with this tactic.

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Shocking Gay Animal Sex

This is merely a cynical attempt to see how many new visitors I can grab.  However, since I am a man of my word…

Homosexuality is quite common in the animal kingdom, especially among herding animals. Many animals solve conflicts by practicing same gender sex.

From the middle of October until next summer the Norwegian Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo will host the first exhibition that focuses on homosexuality in the animal kingdom.
"One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species," explains Petter Boeckman, who is the academic advisor for the "Against Nature's Order?" exhibition.
The most well-known homosexual animal is the dwarf chimpanzee, one of humanity's closes relatives. The entire species is bisexual. Sex plays an conspicuous roll in all their activities and takes the focus away from violence, which is the most typical method of solving conflicts among primates and many other animals.
Lions are also homosexual. Male lions often band together with their brothers to lead the pride. To ensure loyalty, they strengthen the bonds by often having sex with each other.
Homosexuality is also quite common among dolphins and killer whales. The pairing of males and females is fleeting, while between males, a pair can stay together for years. Homosexuality is a social phenomenon and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life.Homosexual Pride of Lionsbehavior has been observed in 1,500 animal species.
Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that will pair with one partner for life, which is the case with geese and ducks. Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual. Single females will lay eggs in a homosexual pair's nest. It has been observed that the homosexual couple are often better at raising the young than heterosexual couples.
Indeed, there is a number of animals in which homosexual behavior has never been observed, such as many insects, passerine birds and small mammals.
"To turn the approach on its head: No species has been found in which homosexual behavior has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue."
Petter Bockman regrets that there is too little research about homosexuality among animals.
"The theme has long been taboo. The problem is that researchers have not seen for themselves that the phenomenon exists or they have been confused when observing homosexual behavior or that they are fearful of being ridiculed by their colleagues. Many therefore overlook the abundance of material that is found. Many researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realize that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher's ethical principles."
One example of overlooking behavior noted by Petter Bockman is a description of mating among giraffes, when nine out of ten pairings occur between males.
"Every male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, while anal intercourse with orgasm between males was only "revolving around" dominance, competition or greetings.
Please feel free to leave comments. I'd be happy to hear from you!

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On Sitting Down with the Enemy - 2

Farewell Address (January 17, 1961)
Dwight David Eisenhower

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to Destroy the Free Press

The Federal Communications Commission is a government agency established in 1934 to regulate the public airwaves to maximize "the public interest and to encourage a diversity of voices so as to promote a vibrant democracy." To chair the agency, Reagan appointed Mark S. Fowler, a communications lawyer who had served on the Reagan campaign staffs in 1976 and 1980. "The perception of broadcasters as community trustees should be replaced by a view of broadcasters as marketplace participants," Fowler said. Fowler famously compared the TV broadcast media to a "toaster with pictures." And he declared his contempt for public affairs journalism as "Dudley Do-Good" programming.

The Fairness Doctrine

The regulations, adopted by the FCC in 1949, were written to ensure that licensed broadcasters provided ample opportunity for contrasting points of view. Their premise was that scarce broadcast licenses—unlike readily available printing presses—made it incumbent on broadcasters to air all sides of controversial issues, a standard that they had to meet continually to win license renewals.

..The Kennedy administration used the Fairness Doctrine to challenge the imbalanced presentations of right-wing radio broadcasters. And throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Fairness Doctrine was invoked by, among others,parties seeking time to respond to biased broadcasters of the religious Right.

Deregulation means Open Season for Corporations

..At the FCC, he (Fowler) would be called "the Mad Monk of de-regulation."Assuming the reins of the commission, he set about "pruning, chopping, slashing, eliminating, burying and deep-sixing" fifty years of regulations that guarded against monopolistic practices and excessive commercialism and protected the public interest standard. Rupert Murdoch, who would win favorable regulatory rulings from the Reagan FCC allowing him to expand his media empire, called Fowler "one of the great pioneers of the communications revolution" and "perhaps the most successful of any Reagan appointee."

Delivering the Final Blow

In 1986, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which had been packed by Reagan with right-wing ideologues, upheld a loose interpretation by the Reagan FCC of an aspect of the Fairness Doctrine ruling that Congress had never made the doctrine a binding requirement, despite statutory language suggesting that it had.9 The vote was 2-1, with Judges Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork in the majority. In 1987, the Reagan FCC, under the chairmanship of Dennis Patrick (a young Reagan aide who took office upon Mark Fowlers departure), used that decision, and a subsequent one from the same court, as an invitation to repeal the doctrine entirely.

THE REPUBLICAN NOISE MACHINE: Right-Wing Media and How it Corrupts Democracy by David Brock ,Crown Publishers, New York, 2004


Need for Media Reform?



In 1983, 50 corporations controlled the vast majority of all news media in the U.S. At the time, Ben Bagdikian was called "alarmist" for pointing this out in his book, The Media Monopoly. In his 4th edition, published in 1992, he wrote "in the U.S., fewer than two dozen of these extraordinary creatures own and operate 90% of the mass media" -- controlling almost all of America's newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies. He predicted then that eventually this number would fall to about half a dozen companies. This was greeted with skepticism at the time. When the 6th edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 2000, the number had fallen to six. Since then, there have been more mergers and the scope has expanded to include new media like the Internet market. More than 1 in 4 Internet users in the U.S. now log in with AOL Time-Warner, the world's largest media corporation.

In 2004, Bagdikian's revised and expanded book, The New Media Monopoly, shows that only 5 huge corporations -- Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) -- now control most of the media industry in the U.S. General Electric's NBC is a close sixth.

More Quotes by JFK

Mr. Nixon, in the last seven days, has called me an economic ignoramus, a Pied Piper, and all the rest. I've just confined myself to calling him a Republican, but he says that is getting low.

John F. Kennedy, 11-5-1960

Let our patriotism be reflected in the creation of confidence in one another, rather than in crusades of suspicion. Let us prove we think our country great, by striving to make it greater.

John F. Kennedy, 11-18-1961

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

John F. Kennedy 1-20-1963

Those who make peaceful revolutions impossible will make violent revolutions inevitable.


Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of the people remain in poverty, while a privileged few reap the benefits of rising abundance. Economic policy can result from governmental inaction as well as governmental action.

John Kennedy

Virgin Airlines Commercial

As funny as this commercial is.. that seat that pulls out to become a bed is a wonderful idea. Anybody who has endured long flights can appreciate the idea.

Okay, Girl, Let’s Dish….

Lindsay Lohan seems to have thrown away another career opportunity. Her guest starring role on “Ugly Betty” has reportedly been cut down from six to four after a series of clashes with the show star, America Ferrera. According to production sources, “It was a mess. Lindsay would show up every day with an entourage of people. She smoked 24/7, and after she left, they had to repaint her dressing room it was such a mess."

One episode, titled "Granny Pants," was about how Lohan, playing Betty's high school nemesis, would "de-pants" Ferrera. But Ferrera, in the episode,  exacts her revenge and pulls down Lohan's pants instead. "Lindsay wasn't wearing any underwear," the source said. Whoopsie! Must have been quite a eye-popping shocker for poor America. Lohan’s people have denied this and said it was sooo unfair and untrue. She was wearing a G-string.

One can never really know about such stories like these anymore. Either it is a major disaster for Lohan or simply another attention-grabbing maneuver by an over-paid publicist. I have seen some of the episodes and Lohan had been cut down on the ciggies. Her voice is so rough now she sounds like a down and out drag queen just waking up.

Parenting- The NRA Way

Death at show fuels US gun debate

New questions have been raised about US gun laws after a boy aged eight shot himself in the head with a submachine gun at a Massachusetts weapons fair.

Christopher Bizilj died after losing control of a recoiling Uzi submachine gun as he fired it at a pumpkin.

Both the boy's father and an instructor were present when the accident happened on Sunday at the gun show in Westfield.

State legislators are now considering drafting a bill banning under-21s from firing automatic weapons, reports say.

"We should take swift action to provide some reasonable restrictions on this type of unreasonable practice," Congressman Michael Costello told the Boston Globe newspaper.

"It's almost indescribable that within a year of leaving a booster seat, an eight-year-old can be holding a submachine gun."

The boy's father, Charles Bizilj, said he was 10ft (3m) behind Christopher when the accident happened at the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo.

Mr Bizilj told the Globe he had allowed his son to shoot the Uzi - which can fire hundreds of rounds a minute - because it was considered to have little recoil.

He said Christopher had fired handguns and rifles before, but never an automatic weapon.

"This is a horrible event, a horrible travesty, and I really don't know why it happened," said Mr Bizilj, a hospital director from Ashford, Connecticut.

Police have described the incident as a "self-inflicted accidental shooting".

But they are continuing to investigate whether the fair's organisers and Westfield Sportsmen's Club - the private shooting club where the gun show was held - held the appropriate licences.

Massachusetts has strict gun laws that require parental consent and the presence of a certified and licensed instructor before a child is allowed to fire a weapon.

Sarah Oh-Twelve?

One of John McCain's advisers recently called his running mate Sarah Palin a "diva" after she went off-script at a rally, and suggested she was looking after her own political future over the current campaign. Now another adviser ups the ante in a conversation with the Politico's Playbook, labeling Palin a "whack job."

Meanwhile, Dana Milbank reports on more signs of division between McCain and his running mate on the stump:

"Sarah Oh-Twelve!" bellowed a man in field coat and jeans, one of several thousand at the Leesburg rally, when Palin spoke about her tax policies yesterday.

Palin  A "Whack Job," Top McCain Adviser SaysThe Huffington Post   |  Rachel Weiner   |   October 28, 2008 11:21 AM

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Truth about Barbie


How I Quit Smoking

For twenty years I smoked about a pack a day. In the beginning I only smoked in the evenings after dinner but years passed, I would wake up in the morning and crave a cup of coffee and a cigarette. 

Then well over a year ago, I came down with a annoying and persistent cough. It was the kind of cough that makes people around you look up suddenly.  A doctor friend of mine recommended I try an amino acid in fizzy tablet form. It was supposed to break up the mucus in your lungs and help you remove the congestion in your lungs.

Around that time, I secretly developed this fear that this cough was something more than merely a cold.. after all, three weeks seems like a very long time to be coughing. It was the kind of coughing that doctors warn you about. Hacking and dry.  I thought I had lung cancer and, coward that I am, I was too afraid to have any kind of examination. However, I did make a promise to the higher power (or to myself, I don't remember which) that if I did NOT have cancer then I would permanently quit smoking. It was the kind of bargaining that dying patients usually make.

Then the strangest thing began to happen. The first cigarette free day passed and I didn’t feel much anxiety. I certainly drove my co-workers crazy talking about cigarettes too much but the craving was nothing as bad as I had expected it to be. The first week passed and still no great system shock or shutdown, definitely no sneaking around with that half a cigarette arrangement people sometimes try.  I did not compensate by binge eating which sometimes happen. (In fact, I did eat more than usual simply because I enjoyed the flavor more.) Strangely enough,  although I kept a nearly full pack of cigarette in the shelves near my computer desk, I could look at it and not feel any uncontrollable desire pulling my hand forward. Nothing at all.  I would occasionally look at it and think of it as if it belonged to some party guest months before.

But why? In the past I had tried and I had failed. When you fail and return to smoking, often  the smoking habit returns twice as bad as before. This time was very different.

And then.. I understood a possible reason. It could have been the effect of the amino acid. N-acetyl-cysteine, NAC for short.  After doing some internet research, I learned a few interesting and confirming facts:

A study team found that exposure to NAC was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the desire to use cocaine and participants had less interest in cocaine. The research on NAC and cocaine addiction has a sound biological basis in rats and likely in people. The theories about glutamate and cysteine that underpin the biology of cocaine addiction may also give hope to people addicted to other substances such as tobacco, heroin and crystal methamphetamine.

Of course, you never know and I am certainly not a doctor. Also, there is that pesky placebo effect that confuses any positive result. However, since that time, I have not returned to smoking and, more importantly, have hardly had much of a craving for nicotine. I no longer take the amino acid, except prior to drinking alcohol since it also tends to lessens hangovers, by protecting the liver from damage.

Before I quit, I used to ask other ex-smokers if they still missed smoking and they would shrug and say with a glum expression, “Sometimes.”  For me it is different, I just wonder why I ever started in the first place.

Photos from Here and There

Staten Island  Autumn – 2008

Staten Island  Autumn – 2008

Cesme Alti Summer - 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Live Football Streaming Piracy Seems To Be The Cause Of Access Blocking To Blogger.Com In Turkey

Special thanks to CyberLaw Blog

I reported on Friday, 24 October, 2008 that access to and were blocked in Turkey. with a blocking order of the Diyarbakir First Criminal Court of Peace (dated 20.10.2008 and order no. 2008/2761).

It is now being reported by that the blocking order is related to an intellectual property infringement. Digitürk is a subscription based digital TV platform in Turkey which owns the right to transmit the live coverage of the Turkish football league games. Digitürk obtained the blocking order through the Diyarbakir court according to the news as there were blog entries providing information and links to known websites which transmit pirated transmission of the live football league games.

According to the news Digitürk contacted and requested the blog entries to be taken down but nothing was done by and Digitürk had no other option than requesting the Diyarbakir court to block access to the two domains and their IP addresses. Such a blocking is allowed under the Turkish intellectual property laws and Digitürk previously obtained a similar access blocking order for JustinTV and for MyP2P TV.

I will assess the wider implications for such a blocking order within the next few days.

As of 01 October, 2008, 1115 websites are blocked in Turkey under the provisions of Law No. 5651. It is however believed that the blocking order issued by the Diyarbakir court is outside the scope of Law No. 5651. The blocking orders issued under Law No. 5651 are executed by the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB) and they provide an “execution notice” when that is the case. However, there is no information whatsoever provided on the pages when accessed from Turkey.

[Blog entry by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz]

A detailed assessment of the Turkish approaches to Internet content regulation will be provided in an 80 page long report entitled Restricted Access: A Critical Assessment of Internet Content Regulation and Censorship in Turkey written by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz and Dr. Kerem Altiparmak. This bi-lingual (English/Turkish) report will be published during November 2008 and will be made available as a PDF file through and pages

Kennedy Revisited -2

On Sitting down with the Enemy

John Fitzgerald Kennedy
University of Washington's 100th Anniversary (November 16, 1961)

“It is a curious fact that each of these extreme opposites resembles the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead. Each side sees only "hard" and "soft" nations, hard and soft policies, hard and soft men. Each believes that any departure from its own course inevitably leads to the other: one group believes that any peaceful solution means appeasement; the other believes that any arms build-up means war. One group regards everyone else as warmongers, the other regards everyone else as appeasers. Neither side admits that its path will lead to disaster—but neither can tell us how or where to draw the line once we descend the slippery slopes of appeasement or constant intervention.

“In short, while both extremes profess to be the true realists of our time, neither could be more unrealistic. While both claim to be doing the nation a service, they could do it no greater disservice. This kind of talk and easy solutions to difficult problems, if believed, could inspire a lack of confidence among our people when they must all—above all else—be united in recognizing the long and difficult days that lie ahead. It could inspire uncertainty among our allies when above all else they must be confident in us. And even more dangerously, it could, if believed, inspire doubt among our adversaries when they must above all be convinced that we will defend our vital interests.

“The essential fact that both of these groups fail to grasp is that diplomacy and defense are not substitutes for one another. Either alone would fail. A willingness to resist force, unaccompanied by a willingness to talk, could provoke belligerence—while a willingness to talk, unaccompanied by a willingness to resist force, could invite disaster.

But as long as we know what comprises our vital interests and our long-range goals, we have nothing to fear from negotiations at the appropriate time, and nothing to gain by refusing to take part in them. At a time when a single clash could escalate overnight into a holocaust of mushroom clouds, a great power does not prove its firmness by leaving the task of exploring the other's intentions to sentries or those without full responsibility. Nor can ultimate weapons rightfully be employed, or the ultimate sacrifice rightfully demanded of our citizens, until every reasonable solution has been explored. ‘How many wars,’ Winston Churchill has written, ‘have been averted by patience and persisting good will! .... How many wars have been precipitated by firebrands!’”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Blud.. got blud.. not funeeeee!

Kennedy Revisited

World Peace and War

American University Commencement (June 10, 1963)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Kennedy Speech
“What kind of peace do I mean? What kind of peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children—not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women—not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age when a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all of the allied air forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need to use them is essential to keeping the peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles—which can only destroy and never create—is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize that the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war—and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

Some say that it is useless to speak of world peace or world law or world disarmament—and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it.

But I also believe that we must reexamine our own attitude—as individuals and as a Nation—for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward—by examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the cold war and toward freedom and peace here at home.

.. Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable—that mankind is doomed—that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade—therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable—and we believe they can do it again. I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concept of universal peace and good will of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace—based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions—on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace—no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process—a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor—it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly toward it.” Banned in Turkey

Posted : Fri, 24 Oct 2008 16:24:43 GMT

Author : DPA,worlds-largets-blog-hosting-service-banned-in-turkey.html

Ankara - A court in south-east Turkey on Friday banned Turkish internet users from accessing Blogger, the world's largest free blog hosting service. Internet users in Turkey discovered Friday afternoon that the site, which hosts millions of blogs, or web logs, had been blocked. When users tried to view a blogger's page they were redirected to a message which said: "Access to this website has been suspended in accordance with decision no. 2008/2761 of the TR Diyarbakir First Criminal Court of Peace."

No reason for the ban was given.

Alien on your Back

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama Loses Election!!

Palin stylist draws higher pay than policy adviser

By JIM KUHNHENN – 3 hours ago

Failing Palin's New Look!WASHINGTON (AP) — An acclaimed celebrity makeup artist for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin collected more money from John McCain's campaign than his foreign policy adviser. Amy Strozzi, who works on the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance" and has been Palin's traveling stylist, was paid $22,800, according to campaign finance reports for the first two weeks in October. In contrast, McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy  Scheunemann, was paid $12,500, the report showed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eye Decals for Office Workers


These paste-on eye decals are great for the office, especially when you need a short nap. As long as you don't snore or drool, and your job description doesn't include heavy machinery.. go for it.

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First Job - Chinese Restaurant

My father was a firm believer that hard work - an antidote to too much television watching- solidified the human character, although he probably hated his job more than he openly admitted. As well as being a presumptive promoter of danger_opportunity_crisis_mandarin_word_meaning_chinese the American work ethic, he also believed that I felt that everything was going to be handed to me on a silver platter and it wasn't. You had to work for it. Somehow I gave him the idea that I felt that the world owed me living- I never quite understood this phrase which probably made it true- and buddy, I was headed for a rude awakening one day. Very soon.  I was told I had better stop and smell the coffee. A few days after my 16th birthday, my father gave me plenty of opportunity to smell the coffee by waking me up every morning at 5 a.m to ask me if I had found a job yet.
That was his way and it took me a long time and a lot of growing to understand my father and for him to understand me.

I have had an unusually wide range of employment and very few of them I actually enjoyed. My very first formal job was a part-time position at Pagoda Chinese Restaurant when I turned 16. My boss' name was, I kid you not, Harry Wong. He was a pretty nice boss but a nervous man who had a tendency to avoid eye contact and say, "Yeah, right." for every question. His wife who was always pregnant in the time I was there- like some perpetually ripening melon- and worked in the back, cooking and chopping cabbage and onions.  Assorted relatives added the appropriate Oriental complexion to the establishment with Harry himself doling out the Mai Tais with umbrellas and coconut flavor cocktails.

Pagoda was a popular place and at that time, my neighborhood did not have much in the way of international cuisine. It was ideally located near a large shopping mall, a MacDonald's and a quasi-ritzy hotel. The decor of  a Chinese restaurant, if it is worth its stuff, must be  dim and slightly strange, Tassles hang from lights, Dragons on walls, Reliefs on the doors, and nearly recognizable songs which turn out to be sung in a twangy Chinese female voice. Initially I started out as a waiter. I was given a butterscotch color jacket that constantly seemed to crawl up my back all night, black clip on bow tie, black polyester pants and a white shirt. Harry was rather fussy when it came to the appearance of his staff.
Waiter training was covered in about 3 minutes my first day. It was not hard work, but you had to stand on your feet all day and keep your eyes open for empty glasses and plates

My career as a waiter did not last long however. After accidentally pouring jasmine tea down a poor child's back, I was hastily demoted to the position of dish washer. Dishwashing was hot and steamy work and not a lot of fun. The waiters found inordinate pleasure in withholding the trays of dirty dishes and glasses and such as long as possible and then bringing them all at once.
The washing equipment was just barely functional and it was often rough going trying to keep up with the traffic. Steam would fill the room when the doors of the dishwasher were flung open. The trays holding the newly cleaned dishes were scalding hot and had to be stacked and plates had to be double checked and returned for further use.
The conversations between the kitchen, if not in Chinese, usually interesting enough and nobody seemed to take things very seriously but amongst the waiters arguments and peeved looks and hissed remarks were commonplace. It was the effect of having to smile and be polite all day for minimum wage plus tips.

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Caught in the Act!

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Murder at Picnic


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest


From What We Need to What We Want

I used to have this friend, Larry, who was a single parent raising a 4 year old son, Little Larry. The very notion of trying to bring up even an angel in this modern world is beyond my imagination. I could never do it. I have very limited patience and have decided that the best I could do in this world is to be an uncle or family friend.

Confirming the hardships of single parenthood, Larry one time told me how much he just hated taking his son to the mall because they could never pass before any toy section without his son having an emotional breakdown. “He screams and falls in the floor and bawls, ‘Daddy, Daddy, I want it!!’ and Larry would tell him, “But you don't need it.” And with that huge wall of logic, Little Larry would stare a second and then scream at the top of his little lungs, “But Daddy, I need it!!” ( A good example why you should never attempt to argue, reason or negotiate with a 4 year old.)
Hearing this story was something of a revelation for me at the time. Our whole society, this system of consumption and materialism, is driven by the intentional confusion and the blurring of the difference between what we need from what we want. I can’t tell you how many times I have got home after shopping and thought, “Now, why the hell did I buy THIS?” At the time, I had apparently been convinced that I needed it but it later seemed like I had been temporarily possessed by a consumer demon. Did I have some kind of seizure? Or maybe I grabbed the wrong bag on the way out?

But could any of us look around their homes or office and collect all the things in one side of the room and mark it, THINGS I NEEDED and on the other side, THINGS I ONLY WANTED? Is this really such a heresy? There is no guarantee that one day, very soon, all those luxuries could be snatched away. People survive it but it isn't something you like to dwell on for very long or very deeply.

Some of the ancient Romans, of all people, warned of the pernicious effects of luxuries and how they weakened the morals. Juvenal wrote, “Luxury, more deadly than any foe, has laid her hand upon us, and avenges a conquered world.” The great writers and philosophers of that age felt, not unlike American historians, that the true spirit of empire was based on its pioneering and austere origins. They also felt that this decline, caused by luxuries, was an effect of the very success of its domination of the known world. Perhaps they fooled themselves into believing that a love for the sumptuous luxuries of life was not a Roman trait at all.

But, alas, people by nature are easy to spoil and can become too attached to their comforts. This can lead them to selfishness and laziness. It is an addiction and over time corrodes our ability to resist. Also, and more importantly, the fear of the loss of those unnecessary comforts can affect our judgment in crucial matters even though we may not know it. We all slowly but surely become slaves to our possessions. Over time, we develop this idea that, for some reason, we deserve our luxuries- leading to a feeling of entitlement. After all, why am I so lucky to live in excess when so much of the world has very little? (And my living the way I do guarantees that they will continue living as they do.)

The mind plays tricks and it seems you can be convinced that life would be less worth living without, or your status in the world has been diminished by some pretty ridiculous and frivolous things. In the USA, it has gotten so commonplace and so widespread that people simply take the warped view for granted. Ostentatious consumption and flagrant display of wealth is all the rage, (as if it is something to be proud of)- even if all those trinkets and all that "bling" were bought on credit or from someone else's sweat.

Although I would freely confess that I am no better than the next person about my needs and my wants, but I did at one time try to make a list of things I absolutely needed, as opposed to the things I merely wanted. Mind you, I might not enjoy life as much but it is a surprisingly short list. You should try it sometime.

Here is my list:
1. a warm or sheltered private place to live
2. hot water for hygiene
3. A variety of healthy food and fresh clean water
4. some means of cooking food
5. clothes that fit me, cover my bits and look clean
6. a friend with whom I can share ideas and memories and emotions ( in a pinch, I could definitely survive with a pet)
7. some kind of hobby or access to information to stimulate my mind

Now I know I MUST be forgetting something, something obvious. Feel free to comment. I am not Little Larry and am quite willing to negotiate without any tantrums.

Fetch, Fluffy, fetch the stick.. here girl


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The American Malaise

I have lately been reading “The Limits of Power” by Bacevich and the author makes a compelling argument about the sources of the American malaise. The basic contention is that sometime in the 1980s, American changed from “an empire of production” to an “empire of consumption” and this very American desire to have more without even considering the possibility of sacrifice and reform has led to a severe weakening of our national independence.
Our desire to have more and more without limit but completely on credit and from outside sources has led to a dangerous inability to remain “masters of our fates” as a nation. We cling to the boast of being the last superpower while at the same time and we have begun to use our fading but expensive military might to obtain our presumed entitlements. And worst of all, whether you choose to disregard the dubious morality of it all, it simply isn't working.
The break, according to author, could be clearly charted between the presidencies of Carter and Reagan. While Carter was attempting to re-think the American values- is there no limit to our entitlement as a nation, a world power? Should we always continue to expect more and more? To even question this idea was dangerous ground to step for any president wishing to remain in power; it seemed to go against the very core of the “American Dream.”
Reagan on the other hand, appealed to our national vanity and many of our long held but essentially mythic national beliefs- that America is somehow divinely inspired to spread its influence and its domination in the name of freedom to all parts of the world-. That Americans are, for this reason, a blessed and deserving to have a brighter future based on material wealth.
What we have found in this country, and maybe we ‘re more aware of it now, is one problem that we’ ve had, even in the best of times, and that is the people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless, you might say, by choice. - Ronald Reagan
Here is an example of Reagan’s sense of logic that could never be refuted in a proud nation of the popular vote . If you are poor in America, it is because you choose to be. America is, after all, the land of opportunity and intelligence and hard-work are rewarded. America is the greatest nation in the world and if you are poor, it is because you are too lazy or ignorant to seek out those advantages open to every citizen. It was a heady mix of patriotism and wishful thinking.
The dark side, however, was intolerance and bigotry, a sense of privilege and arrogance and lack of sympathy or understanding to the poor, the unfortunate or defenseless and the ill. (And if we choose to treat out OWN citizens in such a manner, is it surprising the abuses of power that went on in Iraq?)
I remember seeing a tape of Reagan speaking in California from that era. He said that he had heard that some asserted there was hunger in America. He said it sarcastically. He said, "Sure there is; they're dieting!" or words to that effect. This handsome Hollywood millionaire making fun of people so poor they sometimes went to bed hungry seemed to me monstrous. I remember his wealthy audience of suburbanites going wild with laughter and applause. I am still not entirely sure what was going on there. Did they think Harrington's and similar studies were lies? Did they blame the poor for being poor, and resent demands on them in the form of a few tax dollars, to address their hunger?

Ronald Reagan, De-Mythologized By Juan Cole

Under Reagan, how did this attitude express itself in practical terms? One example that quickly comes to mind is the AIDS outbreak in the 1980s. ( There are numerous examples of course, from school lunch programs, to cutting funding for state run hospitals housing mentally disturbed patients) If government had chosen to address the AIDS problem at its earliest stages, instead of blaming the victims If resources had been spend attempting to cover the humanitarian ( as opposed to a judgmental and heartless) way, we might not have only saved our nation millions of young lives, we might also have heroically prevented the disease from becoming a world-wide disaster. Tragically, however, it did not.
Instead, the Reagan administration acted with slowness and inefficiency, denying the problem even existed. The president did not make even one public address of the epidemic until 4 or 5 years. Eventually, a response came to meet the needs despite and not due to, government policy and usually from within the minority community with grudging and inadequate national funding .
There was talk that this was a manufactured illness created to wipe out the homosexual community, or the black minority, or the poor. In fact, there was no need to create any such diseases in a lab. The triplet evils were more than sufficient: a lack of conviction and seriousness to address an emerging problem that some in government found too distasteful (or expensive) to think about , a cold lack of empathy for those in need of help and finally a confused sense of priorities when it came to spending our financial resources. This was much more effective at wiping out neglected populations than any disease.
A significant source of Reagan's support came from the newly identified religious right and the Moral Majority, a political-action group founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. AIDS became the tool, and gay men the target, for the politics of fear, hate and discrimination. Falwell said "AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals." Reagan's communications director Pat Buchanan argued that AIDS is "nature's revenge on gay men." Reagan's AIDS Legacy by Allen White
And this attitude can now become entrenched into the American psyche. That somehow there are some people who deserve more and some people who deserve nothing and we have no impetus to change that basic truth. It is social Darwinism on its most cruel level. Mind you, it was not as though, Reagan and the administrations that followed were actually saving money. Quite the opposite is true, while Reagan was boasting of the need to cut spending on social spending , over the course of his two terms in office, between 1981 and 1989, Reagan cut taxes, slashed government programs and ran up huge deficits with a 35 per cent increase in military spending.
Katrina. If one wishes any further evidence on how far America has slipped from its highest values as a nation, if only in terms of what we wish to believe about our system, then one needs only to look at the events surrounding Katrina. How much clearer could those images be? The poor, the elderly and ill, the children and the underclass all were herded into a stadium and, all but abandoned by police and emergency services and simply left to fend for themselves against flooding and storms while the national government dithered and looked the other way. This was the ultimate legacy from the Reagan era, and the question remains, what have we really learned? Anything?
It calls to mind A.J.Toynbee’s “A Study of History”, admittedly heavy reading indeed, but many of his ideas arise from viewing history with a telescope as opposed to a microscope. He took a survey of the 26 civilizations and analyzed the causes of their rise from a primitive collection of tribes or proto-nations to a great and influential dominating civilization. Toynbee, in the second half of the work, broke down the causes for the civilization to crumble.
There are so many fascinating concepts that I am sure I could never do justice to them all but I can try to summary. An empire/civilization begins its decline much earlier than presumed and often its golden age is in reality its Indian summer. The rise of Militarism within a civilization is usually the signs of its own decay. ( the suicidal rise of Militarism is how he depicted it) When the creative minority, its artists and promoters of the Arts, turn away from the long established cultural values of the empire, then the collapse is usually not far behind. When a lingua franca is established then the civilization has peaked and when that universal language begins to dissolve then for obvious reasons, the civilization it begins to weaken. The causes of the decline are usually a result of its own inherent hypocrisies. Finally, there is the three and half beat rule, that is, in civilizations, there are a series of challenges and how its citizens and leaders respond to those challenges, either effectively or ineffectively, determines the viability of the empire. By the time the third unanswered challenge occurs the civilization has fallen.
And all of Toynbee’s signs are with us if we wish to examine ourselves without fear. The three beats: Would that be the AIDS epidemic, 9/11 and Katrina? The inherent hypocrisy of spreading freedom and American values by imposing U.S sponsored dictatorships upon the people we wish to liberate, or worse, by American military might directly? The hypocrisy of professing to believe in a fair and just legal system and yet denying even the most basic and long established right to a fair trial and habeas corpus, as well as the right to confront your accuser in a court of law? Can there be one law for Americans and another law for the rest of humanity? If so, then our right to establish free and just systems around the world is in serious doubt. It seems to be only a cover for the right to impose our will on other countries in order to loot them of the resources we feel we deserve as our divine right. If not, then we must take time for serious reflection and reevaluation of our supposed mission. Surely, we are not so arrogant to think we cannot live in a world that is both good for Americans and good for the other nations we share this planet with.
In his book, Bacevich is very careful to state that this is not a problem with one party or the other and it is not a problem of a single decade. This has been a metastasizing cancer for the last 30 years, perhaps longer. Like a cancer, it does not spread in a completely random fashion. Some parts of the body are more vulnerable than others, but eventually the life of the patient is threatened.
There is an immense and systematic failure going on in the last superpower and this can only be solved through pragmatism, honesty and the sacrifice of presumed entitlements.

Obama Rally Draws 100,000 in Missouri


Barack Obama attracted 100,000 people at a Saturday rally here, his biggest crowd ever at a U.S. event.

No Comment Necessary


Police chase impaired driver through cornfield

police-chase-holland-cornfield Police in the Holland published this picture of a cornfield after a suspected of driving under the influence of cocaine led police officers on a wild chase through a rural part of the country. The driver rammed a fence, knocked over two apple trees and zigzagged through the field before police managed to make an arrest Friday in Dussen

Monday, October 20, 2008

Violation at the Mall

October 2008

Winter is creeping up like some great white beast. It will be my first REAL winter in quite a while. with ice storms and blizzards and all that mess. I am kind of looking forward to it, at least on the first days. The problem was I really didn't have anything warm to see me through.

So after a quick scouting through the local shops and finding nothing, I decided that I would finally have to make my way to Staten Island Mall. It took forever but the transport was not crowded and the bus was cleaner than you would expect for mass transit in New York.

Anyway, I got there, spilled out into the parking lot and began the expedition. It was larger inside than outside, or as the outside appeared. But the prices at Macy’s, for example, were eye-popping. I nearly ran through the store to get into the main corridor.

I finally ended up at Sears. Sears was always my parent’s store. The place for unfashionable but sturdy blue jeans that could last forever, though you wouldn't be caught dead in them. The place for hardware and practical items.. but hardly luxuries. (Luxury for my parents had been any bath towel that was larger enough to wrap around you and a different color than white.) I found a nice and affordable jacket with a hood and a fake lambs wool interior. Looked like something that would save my life for a hour if I was somehow caught in a snowstorm. As I came to cashier, she said, “Would you like to have a Sears card?"

Wary as a rejected lover, I hesitated.  I had been refused store cards before without any explanation and idea of filling out the forms.. well, why bother?

But the lady said,”You can get 15 dollars off this purchase.” So I thought, hell I could practically buy another for the same price. Not quite.

The form was quite streamlined. She took my driver’s license and typed it into the computer and then she asked.. “This your correct address?”

“Your social security number? she requested without looking up.

I thought.. well, okay but.. is that necessary?.. oh yes, I guess but do.. I want the 15 bucks that much? But I did.. so I gave it. And then my telephone number.  After giving every detail of my identity away to this relative stranger, she waited for me to be processed. And then she turned and said, “Sorry, you haven't been accepted. If you would like to know the details, here is a telephone number to call. Thank you and have a nice day.”

“Excuse me, but you have all my information and you gave me nothing in return. I understood that by giving this information I would be eligible for a discount on my purchase.”

“I am sorry but you were not accepted. I cannot help you. Have a nice day.”

“But this was personal information you have collected on me and how do I know how this information will be used.”

She acted as though this was an idea that had never occurred to her. As if I had invented the whole concept of identity theft. “Well, I don't.. I don't think Sears has ever had a problem with stolen information..” And then she pulled that old  trick, of shrugging and a weak sympathetic smile to say, I only work here.. I am only a small cog in a vast machine, don't blame ME.

Judging my TV ads, and infomercials, the problem of identity theft seems to be a significant one in the USA but then it is no surprise if this “information trawling” is standard practice every time one buys any item from a department store. Experts tell us of the dangers of ID theft and how people are careless when it comes to protecting themselves and their information. It is like swimming in shark invested waters but instead of losing your leg, you lose your identity..

From our old friend Wikipedia:

Identity theft is a term used to refer to fraud that involves stealing money or getting other benefits by pretending to be someone else. The term is relatively new and is actually a misnomer, since it is not inherently possible to steal an identity, only to use it. The person whose identity is used can suffer various consequences when they are held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. In many countries specific laws make it a crime to use another person's identity for personal gain.

I trudged away, angry and yet, not knowing exactly why. As if somebody somewhere had pulled a fast one on me, but I couldn't exactly understand how the con worked. In any case, I marched upstairs and purchased the digital camera I had had my eye on.  To my astonishment, the whole thing began again. The cashier with a slight bored expression began asking me all kinds of personal questions. “And how do you spell your middle name?”

So, slowly steaming, I finally sighed and asked the sales clerk,"Is all this information REALLY necessary just to buy this camera? Why do you need to know my telephone number? My address?" I noticed Marius had his name floridly tattooed on his forearm but it didn't match the spelling on his name tag.

Yeah, we gotta have it in case you wanna  return it.” Sympathetic smile and shrug.


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