Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunset over Karaburun, Izmir, Turkey

Photo by mer3463

A Time to Remember

time to remember Photo © MaximusM3 (Max Marinucci) - www.maxmarinucci.com

From the poems by Framarz Bagheri

Thinking of Egypt

Recently I have read comments on other blogs shuddering at the possibility of a new danger. They fear that radical religious groups might take this opportunity and seize control of the Egyptian government. Personally I doubt that will happen, but if it did, it shouldn't surprise anybody.

It's a little too easy for Americans to say, "We are with you in your struggle." or "The world is watching." and all those shallow messages of support. All very well, but it really is a bit too easy. On the other side of the political spectrum, you have the opinion that can only wonder how all this could have happened to one of our allies and what will happen next and what on earth America can do about it. 

In our effort to maintain stability- mostly for the sake of American interests- the United States government has, for a long time, been quite willing to support this regime, financially and through the sale of weapons. This kind of no-strings support certainly allowed Mubarak to hold on to power for 30 years, allowed him to prepare his son to take over when he steps down and to surround himself with a shell of protection and a illusion of civil harmony. Like the Shah of Iran, he has lived in a dream world of his own making and, over time, found the people to carry all of the dirty business of maintaining order.

An Entire Nation Hostage

To pay to maintain this kind of imposition on its citizens, the Egyptian government relied on extreme measures. Through Wikileaks we can view the opinion of US State department officials on the ground and it makes a dismal reading indeed.

Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders…

NGo contacts estimate there are literally hundred of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone. Egyptians are bombarded with consistent news reports of police brutality, ranging from high profile incidents, such as accidental but lethal police shootings in Salamut and Aswan this past fall.. that sparked riots, to reports of police officers shooting civilians following disputes over traffic tickets. In November 2008 alone, there were  two incidents of off-duty police shooting and killing civilians over petty disputes. The cases against both officers are making their way through the judicial system.The Wikileaks cables on Egypt hold a lot of surprises but what is clear is the US government was well-aware of the situation, its seriousness and the possibility of collapse.

Obviously, holding an entire nation hostage is not inexpensive. According to a Christian Science Monitor article:

The US has provided Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in military aid since 1979, and an average of $815 million a year in economic assistance. All told, Egypt has received over $50 billion in US largesse since 1975.

The money is seen as bolstering Egypt's stability, support for US policies in the region, US access to the Suez Canal, and peace with Israel. But some critics question the aid's effectiveness in spurring economic and democratic development in the Arab world's most populous country - a higher US priority after Sept. 11, 2001.

This is supported by a Congressional Report named "U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East":

Since 1979, Egypt has been the second largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, receiving an annual average of close to $2 billion in economic and military aid. In the past, Congress has earmarked aid to Egypt in annual foreign operations legislation with an accompanying statement calling on Egypt to undertake further economic reforms in addition to reforms taken in previous years.

In July 2007, as a part of a larger arms package to the region, the United States announced that it would provide Egypt with $13 billion in military aid over a ten-year period. Since Egypt has already been receiving approximately $1.3 billion a year in military assistance, the announcement represented no major change in U.S. assistance policy toward Egypt.

Meanwhile, corruption in a variety of forms was allowed to spread and society quickly developed two tiers, with the rich and well-connected living with its own set of laws, doing pretty much whatever it pleased and the rest of society under the mercy of their whims.

Fertile soil

While it is true that in the short term, this condition serves Western interests, the situation for the society as a whole is rather bleak. Corruption allows corporations to defy the law and, for this reason, the wrong people to stay in power, without oversight. This kind of corruption also creates wealth for what the Victorians called "scoundrels."

In other countries where this situation has been allowed to develop, under the tacit support of Western powers, religious groups begin to materialize. Whether this comes from the spread of radical doctrine from countries like Iran or other sources makes little difference. The climate of rejection of Western values creates a fertile soil for this kind of desperate solution. If a person has nothing and has no hope for betterment for himself and his children, why shouldn't he be more attach to a better world in the afterlife?

At some point, according to this model, religious groups, posing as charity for the poor, create a dependent and loyal class among the disenfranchised of that society. Private schools are set up for the poor children to indoctrinate them early with the radical ideals. The social needs of the poor are now met, not by the government, which has neglected its role, but by the religious order. The message, to those who have been neglected, a message reinforced by everything they see around them, is that this regime is a merely puppet of the West.

Extremes of Western liberalism, through their eyes, show them not a society with diversity and respect for the individual, but a decadent sex-mad society whose primary interest is profit and world domination. They do not see a society where the rule of law allows all members of society to be fairly represented, they instead see a nation where might makes right.

Ironically, When corruption in the US government is exposed, instead of illustrating how a system can be reformed by bringing misdeeds to light, for the average citizen of a proxy state, this exposure is merely evidence of the internal corruption and only supports their ideas that the US is a evil nation.

Where some degree of fair elections are possible, the radical fundamentalists are able to use these tools to rise into power. After all, the numbers of the disenfranchised far exceeds the numbers of the super wealthy power-holder in that society. In nations where fair elections are impossible, the revolution is the only means of reform.

A case in point. Last November Egypt held its Parliamentary elections. Given the record, human right groups and political analysts predicted that elections would be anything but free and fair, despite assurances from Egyptian President Mubarak.

"You'll see through these elections whether this is a government that is interested in reforms or is backsliding,' says Amr Hamzawy, a Middle East expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. http://goo.gl/3loSC

It came, therefore, as no surprise when the ruling party crushed the opposition in a contest marred by allegations of widespread voter intimidation and fraud. The Obama administration made the appropriate noises and objections about how the elections were conducted, citing "restrictions on basic freedoms" and "numerous reported irregularities." In fact, it was the last straw for a seething population. Mubarak and his cronies discarded their last chance for reform for the sake of holding onto power, just a little longer.

"Our men" in power

Let's take a step back. This power structure implemented by the West, a kind of neo-imperialism, has been in place long before Obama was sworn in. Previous presidential doctrine reflect the mood of the people in relation to world events . Following the Vietnam war, when the mood of the American people rejected any further direct involvement in the other nation's civil wars, whether in the name of fighting communism or not, Nixon drafted The Nixon Doctrine which stated that the the United State "shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defense."

This doctrine buttressed the concept of proxy nations around the world. "Our men" in power, running the country. It seemed like a perfect solution. The Roman Empire ruled the known world under such a system. Everybody could be happy. American loss of life could be held to a minimum and at the same time, the military-industrial complex could prosper by arranging the sale of military hardware. The one problem that policy makers in the West overlooked was that the Roman Empire was an empire and by its nature, punished dissent and rewarded compliance. Hardly a good model for a nation that values human rights.

But this is how power- real power is applied in the real world, we were told. So, If these tanks- which were supposedly intended to protect the sovereignty of our partner nations- could serve the dual purpose of intimidating the citizen of the proxy state, how could America be blamed?

The Price to Pay

A quick montage of images: Carter and Iran, Reagan and Grenada, George Bush and the Iraq War. Clinton and Somalia and finally George Bush's doctrine of preemptive strike. And suddenly America found itself with two dubious doctrines. One, in which, in order to avoid any direct involvement, financial and military support is given to our partners, and the second doctrine in which America takes the right to invade any nation if there is a imminent threat.

Apart from the ethical implications of trying to align these two ideas into a workable long term policy, there is, as we have witnessed, a heavy economic burden when both policies are applied. By casting off those principles that made the nation great in the name of "our interests abroad," we are, quite literally, having to pay a price we cannot afford.

Obama chose Cairo to make his famous speech to the people of the Middle East, calling for a new dialogue and a new approach. I recall thinking at the time that the choice of this location was a stumble, a poor decision. After all, Egypt could hardly serve as a model of successful Western policy by any stretch of the imagination.

So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other. That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.

Fine words. If there were skeptics to these fine words, who could blame them? Even if we believe that those ideas were meant to be taken seriously, one only needed to look how Egypt, recipient of so much economic support, values those ideals.

Ignored Warnings

And on the other side of the world, there were similar skeptics. Taking those words and making policy, in the face of growing corporate influence over the United States government, seems, at times, a impossible challenge.

In any case, that message was ignored by the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and probably by many nations with similar regimes. And now they are paying the price at the hands of their own people. The question boils down to these essential questions:

Are the leaders of the remaining regimes listening now? Will they make the reforms that are necessary to reflect the needs of all their citizens or will they shrug and return to the ways of the past which, as we have in recent days, are doomed to failure?

And for the West, more difficult questions emerge:

For the sake of our corporate interests and political power, are we willing to continue to accept and support nations which do not care in the slightest for the civil and human rights of its citizens, who are unwilling to institute meaningful reform or allow fair and free elections?

And more fundamentally, would we be wish to live in a system based on this kind of subjugation? Although citizens of Western nations might presently enjoy the benefits derived from such a system, how long can it be before these conditions are imposed universally?

 


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zee Avi

The story of the musician Zee Avi (born Izyan Alirahman) is a peek into the possibilities that the Internet offers new artists as a showcase for talent. The singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulele player was born in Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia and  spent her first 12 years on Island of Borneo, in a small village called Miri on the South China Sea. Her father was  an energy consultant, She expected to follow a career path toward being a lawyer.

Her father was also a musician and multi-instrumentalist. Later her family moved to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lampur, where she still lives. In her teens she took up guitar, often spending hours locked in her room practicing. But she put music aside for four years during which she went to London to study fashion design. But back in Kuala Lumpur, she got back to her music, and starting writing songs and playing with a band. She began recording some of her songs on a computer webcam, and began posting them on YouTube. A British singer-songwriter named Kris Rowley, who had some following began posting some of her songs on his site, and Ms. Avi was soon getting lots of web hits.  http://goo.gl/wZtQA

After she received positive feedback, .she was inspired to put more videos on YouTube.

After being featured on the main page of YouTube, she was discovered by Patrick Keeler of The Raconteurs, who passed the link to Ian Montone, the manager of The White Stripes, The Shins, The Raconteurs, and others. Montone passed her music on to Emmett Malloy, who signed her to Brushfire Records, a record company which is partly owned by Jack Johnson.Her song "No Christmas For Me" is featured on Brushfire Records's 2008 Christmas album.

Her full self-titled debut album was released on May 19, 2009, co-produced by Brushfire Records and Ian Montone's Monotone Records.

So tell me what YOU think of this artist.

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Kill Switch

5395027368_7d97b74c0b_b

In an unprecedented step, Egypt has closed all of its Internet connections including Twitter. This comes in reaction to widespread demonstrations and rioting by its citizens and is seen as an attempt to prevent opposition from using Internet social media to arrange rallies and to communicate with member activists.

This "kill switch" option was also matter of some debate in the United States, when legislation was proposed giving the president power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyber-emergency,” and prohibiting any review by the court system. The proposed bill is, Bill S.3480, or the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (PCNAA). It authorizes President Obama to have the power to shut down the internet, presumably in cases of national emergencies and/or cyber attacks. For more information about this bill try this link.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/01/kill-switch-legislation/

In Egypt we can find a frightening demonstration how this power could be legally abused in the wrong hands.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mad

mad

 

According to Hollywood insiders, failed VP candidate and quitter Alaskan Gov Sarah Palin has been offered a lead in a hot new TV show written and directed by the same people who brought you the Emmy Award winning and uber-hip "Mad Men."

The period show, MAD WOMEN, is set in the 1990s and will follow the lives of five middle-aged women who have decided to enter into the male-dominated world of politics.


"A general lack of focus and coherence threaten to destroy her career"

  Buzz around Hollywood is sketchy at the moment but if the rumors are true, Sarah Palin will play the central role of Susan Perin, whose complicated private family battles and general lack of focus and coherence threatens to destroy her career. Soleil Moon Frye, unforgettable child star of "Punky Brewster," is set to play her wayward daughter, Crystal. Daniel Stern, from "Home Alone" (1990) and "City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold" (1994) has been cast as her philandering scheming husband, Rodd. True Lies (1994) Tia Carrere plays her Becky Beckistone, her seemingly close friend and assistant who's secretly out to destroy perennial victim Perin.

 

In addition, Erin Gray (from the ‘80s TV series Buck Rogers) will play cut-throat Congresswoman Michelle Bleakman whose secret affliction (Tourette's) and a campy doctor hubby threaten to destroy her career.

Sara Gilbert, famous for her Emmy-nominated supporting role of "Darlene Conner" on Roseanne, has been cast to play cash-strapped Sharia Angel, a Utah conservative politician with an secret obsession with germs and her.refusal to be interviewed threaten to destroy her career.

To round out the talent, Alicia Silverstone, whose smash hits include "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" (2004), will be portraying the erratic but lovable Christa O'Dell, the scatterbrain, no-holds barred candidate from Rhode Island with a penchant for hunky men and dangerous liaisons. O'Dell's dark history of Satanic cults threatens to.. make her a laughing stock of the entire nation.

 

Count of this show to be a lot more steamy than Palin's previous single season bomb, "Sarah Palin's Alaska. After only the first episode, audiences were unexpectedly bored with gawking at the woman.

 

"It'll get her a lot of attention. And she likes that.'

 

"With there being nudity in our show," promises one unnamed staffer on the production team, "she'll no doubt make a point of showing her ass sometime during the season. It's not nice and it's not pretty but it'll get her a lot of attention. And she likes that. A lot."

Others on the set agree. "Oh this'll be groundbreaking TV, that's for sure. It's a whole new genre. We are just calling it 'fictional reality TV' and it fits Sarah Palin like a glove."

Producers of the show, however, were adamant about one provision in Sarah's contract. Lynn Gwenny, the show's executive producer stated, "We stipulated that Palin had to complete all 23 episodes of the first season. We didn't want her to quit half-way through the season."


Disclaimer: Nomadic View is primarily an entertainment blog and not a news organization. Therefore we do not vouch for the veracity, sincerity or authenticity of any of the information contained in the blog posts. We do not wish to give any misleading impression that any of the information presented here is accurate or serious.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Narelle Autio

Narelle Autio grew up in Adelaide and graduated from the University of South Australia with a visual arts degree. Now based in Sydney, Narelle is a staff photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald. Previously she worked at the Adelaide Advertiser. She was the principal photographer for News Limited's London bureau and freelanced in the USA.

If you like this photographer's work, I invite you to check out a more complete gallery at :http://www.in-public.com/NarelleAutio/gallery/75

Goat

antichrist

 

HEILONGJIANG PROVINCE, CHINA-

The news of Kah-Kah, a five year old Hailun breed goat, has astounded scientists around the world with what seems to be the first true and verifiable case of intelligent animal speech. And apparently, the goat had an announcement.

Hao Wei Yuan, his owner, told reporters, "I was in the rice field and I heard somebody calling my name. There was nobody. Only Kah-Kah. Then I understood that it was  goat's voice."

After Wei Yuan brought the goat to his home, his wife and children refused to have any thing to with the animal. "They were frightened and told me to kill it. But I couldn't do it."


 

"I was not prepared for this."

 

And yet the strangest part was yet to come, When US scientist Emery Bohred from Stanford University heard of the strange phenomenon, while on a tour of farms in late 2008, he decided to make the long journey to the isolated region to see for himself. "I admit, I didn't believe it. A talking goat? At best, I thought it would be making sounds that could possibly sound like words. I was not prepared for this."

 

When Bohred arrived, what he discovered astounded him. "It was speaking English. That's something I hadn't heard before. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. And not merely words but full sentences." The goat would spend hours chatting with local villagers under the Yam-yam tree in a variety of dialects but even the owners were stunned to hear the goat address the American strangers in their own language.

"You can't imagine my reaction. Kah-Kah actually asked me questions about where I was from, if I was married and my age. The goat even translated Chinese jokes into English, but I didn't quite see the humor. " After recovering the shock, Bohred asked Wei Yuan for permission to examine the goat more intensively. In the following three months, Bohred conducted a wide variety of experiments to determine how Kah-Kah might have developed such a capacity.

"I suspect it is genetic." offered Bohred, "I am still uncertain."

There was one thing that Kah-Kah kept repeating. At first, it was only a name. Sarah Palin. When I showed that I recognized the name, the goat clearly stated, 'Sarah Palin is the Anti-Christ.' For three days in March 2009, Kah-Kah continue to repeat that same sentence over and over."

"And then, the goat was silent." Bohred explained to reporters at a press conference. Wei Yuan, at his family insistence, finally slaughtered Kah-Kah in November 2010.

"My wife, she very angry with me. She say me ancient Chinese proverb. 'Just because a donkey can speak. it doesn't mean you have to listen.' "

There was, unfortunately, no record of the goat's last words.


Disclaimer: Nomadic View does not vouch for the authenticity or veracity of any of its articles. The primarily goal of the posts is purely for the entertainment of its readers. This blog is not intended to be a news corporation, fair and balanced or otherwise.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

To Die In Books

old_books455opt
To Die in Books
His name, last name
Open parenthesis
His year of birth, dash, his year of death, the end.
close parenthesis.

Now he's a name in books, surname
Within parenthesis his year of birth and death
Down at the bottom of the page, or just a little on
His works, when they were printed.
A list, short one or long.
The names of books. Like birds in agony of death within your hand.

In the parentheses, a dash.
All that he was is there.
His hopes, his fears, his teas, his joys.
All that he was is there.
Now he remains inside these books
A prisoner in that dash.
Does he still live? He can't fight back.
You can kill him,  just there.
Behçet Necatigil (1916-1979)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Free Soul

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it - basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.                                     

Charles Bukowski

Art by Jake Baddeley  http://www.jakebaddeley.com/

In Support

Ukrainian activists cover their mouths with US flags during a rally in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in front of the Swedish embassy to Ukraine in Kiev on 22 December  2010.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Nine Newly-Found Nostradamus Prophecies about Sarah Palin

nost

 

Previously unknown vaults beneath the ruins of a chapel in Orleans, France have led British and French researchers to a collection of lost books by the 15th century prophet, Nostradamus. Researchers were astounded to the references to familiar modern-day figures, such as Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

In April of 2003, construction workers of an apartment building accidentally stumbled upon a vast network of tunnels and chambers under the historic French city, where Nostradamus once lived. "The vaults had been sealed for five centuries," remarked local historian, Dr. Henri Fondue.

It was in one of these secret chambers that explorer uncovered the four books, stored in an ornately crafted lead chest. "I've never seen such a well-preserved collection of ancient documents. It's as if they were written yesterday but, "Professor Victor Lustig of Cambridge University told reporters. "there was never any doubt about their authenticity."

Apparently the books of the seer's poems were purposely secreted away, according to scholars. "We felt that the information had to be reveaedl to the public. What they contained seemed too important."

Regarding rumors that Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, French President Sarkozy and Pope Benedict were also mentioned in the prophecies, the researchers refused to comment at this time. http://goo.gl/XR35zn


The Nine Palin Quatrains -with comments by Prof. Ernest Hardwell of Harvard University

 

1qua

Professor Hardwell:

McCain is represented as Son of Cain because, in Scottish, this, of course, would be its exact translation. All of the imagery in the quatrain is startlingly precise. The white haired warrior, for example. McCain was a Prisoner of War and forest battles could easily be understood as the jungles of Vietnam. The last two lines are clear enough as well.


 

2qua

Professor Hardwell:

I don't think anybody can argue with the symbolism contained in this particular poem. The word LASKA could be as close as Nostradamus could come to Alaska, where Palin was governor, before quitting. The black prince is no doubt meant to mean Obama and most scholars interpret two hundred and eight to mean 2008, the date of the US election.


 

3qua

Professor Hardwell:

Palin played the flute in her high school band and there is little need to explain how the word Rogue relates. There is a lot of disagreement to the exact meaning to the phrase "a child of foxes." I tend to think it is related to the Fox broadcasting network. Destroyers of the British Tea is a brilliant inside joke, I think, as it links the Tea Party a political movement in America, with the early colonist's revolt. Two prophecies for the price of one!


 

4qua

Professor Hardwell:

This quatrain was perplexing and disjointed but, in light of recent events, its true meaning becomes clear. It's important to remember that Nostradamus' references are more like signposts. Troopers at the gate, for instance, seems to mean "Troopergate" and Bristol is suggested in the phrase "pregnant daughter will call for abstinence." Black gold was more difficult but I think most people would agree that petroleum is meant here and finally, in the last line, the bay of the Spanish speakers? The Gulf of Mexico, no doubt.


5qua

Professor Hardwell

This particular quatrain is fascinating because not only does it give all the names of the Palin children and Sarah Palin's maiden name (Heath), but it also states the name of the city where she was born (a point in the Sand= Sandpoint and the state (Land of the underground fruit = Idaho). Curiously enough, the true meaning of this poem can only be understood when translated into English. Another sign of the complexity of Nostradamus' predictions.


6qua

Professor Hardwell

A clear reference to Palin's use of a helicopter to shoot wolves. This poem has long confused scholars until it was deciphered. Juno has the same sound as Juneau, Alaska


7qua

Professor Hardwell

One of Nostradamus' tricks was to code information but, even so, we can see the angram LAPIN, is actually PALIN. And HARASS could meant to spell Sarah. Willow is of course the name of one of her daughters. The Great Land is also the Eskimo name for Alaska.


8qua

Professor Hardwell:

Comparing Bristol Palin with Salome, Nostradamus goes further by using the phrase, Danc(ing )with the Stars"- the TV dance contest show which she featured in. He surpasses himself by stating that she would not win, coming in third.


9qua

Professor Hardwell

This quatrain is exciting because the first line contains the name of a famous Palin supporter, Glenn Beck. The third line gives Beck's hometown.Nostradamus also predicts that greed and Palin will destroy his popularity.


Be advised that every Thursday with be Sarah Palin Tabloid day so be sure to bookmark this URL or become a follower if you don't wish to miss any of the articles.

Disclaimer: Nomadic View is not a news organization, fair or balanced or otherwise. The post on thi blog are primarily aimed at the entertainment of our readership. Therefore, we do not vouch for the veracity or authenticity of the information presented.

Recipe Correction

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dry County

alcohol martiniOne time, while I was sitting on the Kordon with my British friend, she began to tell me about her childhood memories. Pauline explained how every evening her father would come home and he and her mother would sit and have martinis until dinner time. I was rather amused by this image because I grew up in a completely non-alcohol environment. I tried and failed to visualize of my parents slowly getting pickled, stumbling around the kitchen and issuing slurred orders to one another. My British friend smiled smugly and said,"It's about how one is brought up."

As condescending as it sounded, she was correct, of course. Having grown up in a region of Arkansas that was "dry," my mother's attitude about drinking was wholly negative. "It's the Devil's tool," she would say, although she was not all that religious. It was a platitude she cherished but I am sure she meant that alcohol creates a lot of mischief, for the individual and for society.

When I explained the term "dry county" to my students, they all seemed taken aback. "In America?" they'd all ask, with visions of Spring break videos and reruns of some American TV show. The idea that somehow America could be as- or more restrictive about such things- as Turkey boggled their minds.

In the part of Arkansas where my parents grew up, the experiment of prohibition never really ended. The manufacture, the sale and the possession of alcohol is still a punishable offense and it is enforced. Arkansas has 75 counties, of which more than half are dry. And the conservative, devout people that live there support the ban since jurisdictions elect to go dry by public referendum.

Two Tribes

And yet, I always got the feeling whenever I visited that only two types of young people lived there. The ones that were going to marry at sixteen, have a lot of babies and center their lives around their local church. They had very limited ambition and didn't seem very curious about anything outside their community. The rest of the world - meaning any place outside of their own 40 mile circle- was viewed with deep suspicion. "Those people in California are all nuts," "big city types" and "He's one of those liberals from New York" is something you might hear, but normally speaking, there is very little talk about any other place except home. (So often when I spoke of living in Turkey, there was merely silence, as if they couldn't even think of a question to ask.) In their mindset, there is no lifestyle except their own and their religion is ("let's face it") the only true one. Naturally, for those people, the very idea of drinking is pretty much the same as Satan worship.

But then there is the other side. The so-called rebellious oneDrinking ban wine. The frustrated one. The young person that is looking for that chance to escape, somehow. And escape they usually do. (if not, they end up in trouble with the law.) The average age in that country must be about 50. The net migration from the area increases every year. And because there are fewer potential workers, companies are less willing to invest. The result? Fewer job opportunities and a limited variety of jobs. Farming as a means of earning a living is dependent on so many variables, like weather conditions and fluctuations of prices. So it's easy to see why people are leaving for the city.

Arkansas is a beautiful area to visit and yet, tourism has never been a thriving sector. I can't tell you whether the alcohol ban has had a negative effect on tourism but I'd not be surprised. It's only commonsense that tourism is about feeling free and less inhibited than your everyday existence. Does it mean getting drunk every night? No. But if you wish to enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner and the waiter has to apologize because that "kind of thing isn't allowed here," then many, if not most, people would probably think twice about another visit. Despite the fact, I don't drink very much as a rule, I am not sure I'd want to live in an area where that restriction is decided for me. I'm- in most ways, at least, a mature adult, capable of making my own decisions about what is and what is not good for me.

Driving Dry

Eliminating drunk driving is usually one of the goals of the dry county laws. Anti-alcohol groups would like you to believe it's a uncontested fact but the statistics do not support the position that prohibition of alcohol driving drinkingconsumption reduces drunk driving. According to National Center for Statistics and Analysis, dry counties had a fatality rate in drunk driving accidents of 6.8 per 10,000 people. Conversely, wet counties had 1.9 fatalities per 10,000 people. Thirsty residents will drive as far as they need to to get a beer but the problem is driving back home. (This is especially true where a dry county to adjacent to a wet county. )

Critics point out that the statistics are flawed because population density in wet counties are 11 times higher than in dry counties, but the drunk driving accident rate was only 3 times higher.

Then again there may be a reason why wet counties have a higher population density. A lot of people don't want to live in a place with absolutely no social life. If you are used to not going out, then it is easier to bear but this only means that fewer new people would be willing to relocate to your community. At the same time, a lot of young people, after viewing on TV all the highlights of life in the free and unrestricted city, pack up and leave as soon as they see an opportunity. How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm after a few episodes of ?

Whatever the statistics might say, from my own observations, there was less drunk driving because, after around 9 in the evening, there is hardly any driving at all. By ten or eleven, all good people should be in bed seems to be the general idea. What on earth would any decent person be doing out late at night (past 10)?

Meth

Strangely enough, while the ban on alcohol has effectively reduced consumption and all its negative effects, that area of Arkansas faces a more difficult problem. Methamphetamine is readily available throughout Arkansas.

I would hate to have judge which is more unhealthy, alcohol or meth. I have seen plenty of drunks in my time. They can be loud and obnoxious and aggressive. Or they can be silly and pathetic. I worked with an alcoholic and one minute he could be sympathetic and sweet, and the next he could bite your head off for asking the wrong question. 'Comes in on Monday morning, looking like he was pulled through a hedge backwards," was the comment his supervisor made one time. But still, I am at least familiar with alcohol.

Meth is another world for me. "Methamphetamine gives the user an extreme, overwhelming sense of euphoria, power, and seemingly boundless energy. Ideas come in a flash, conversation quickens, and sexual arousal is heightened; lights and colors seem brighter, the heart beat speeds up and the person becomes restless with nervous intensity. Without the drug to stimulate these damaged areas of the brain, addicts will be unable to feel normal pleasures and subsequently fall into depression." http://www.myaddiction.com/methamphetamine.html

Check out the photo to see the physical ravages that meth can cause on the human body. Bad? It gets worse.

Methamphetamine abusers often are paranoid and delusional, may become violent without provocation, and frequently arm themselves against perceived threat. Law enforcement officials in Arkansas report that meth abuse is a significant problem throughout the state. http://goo.gl/D2wMZ

So you may not be able to get a icy beer on tap, or gin to mix with that tonic,  but at least,  you can  obtain meth to smoke.

Another Example

Many Middle Eastern countries have bans on alcohol, Iran, for example. An Iranian convicted of drinking on three separate occasions could face death by hanging. There is little chance of a pardon. New laws make producers and dealers of alcoholic beverages subject to 74 lashes, fines and imprisonment for three months to one year.

One would think that would be enough of a deterrent. However, despite Sharia Laws, there is a large black market for alcohol illegally imported from neighboring countries. In total, some 14 million liters of liquor are distributed in Iran each year, according to the special anti-smuggling task force which is supervised by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And many Iranians also make their own home brews, a very dangerous practice indeed. Police report that 10 people had died from drinking poisonous homemade alcohol in a northern Iranian province.

And similar to the Arkansas model, in Iran, turning away from alcohol does not necessarily mean a substance-free life. The punishment for drug possession and abuse is not as harsh. Only convicted drug traffickers and wholesale sellers are usually hanged. This has encouraged many heavy drinkers to turn to drug abuse. According to officials, Iran has 1.2 million addicts and 800,000 'recreational' users. But NGOs say that the total number of drug users in Iran is as high as 5 million.

As in the US, there has been a rise to a black market of smuggling of illegal drugs. Anti-trafficking officials say that each year 2,500 tons of illicit drugs are smuggled into Iran from neighboring Afghanistan. In addition over 1,100 tons comes from European and Persian Gulf countries. http://goo.gl/YJBn7

And this brings me back to my parents. As dead-set as they were about alcohol, every time I returned home, I would notice more and more prescription drug bottles on the kitchen counter. It started to look more and more like a pharmacy each visit.

"What's THIS for?" I'd ask my mother.

"Oh, that? That's for my nerves. Librium. It reduces my stress." Right. Stress.

"And that one?"

"That's my Elavil --for anxiety. The pink pills? those are for depression. And that's my darvocet.. for pain."

I choose to hold my tongue about the matter but it didn't surprise me that she would put more faith in her doctor than in a bartender or street corner drug dealer.

Apparently, however, the Devil has a large selection of tools.

 

Class Actress–Let Me Take You Out

For The Plastic Mancunian, this is something I like.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Demonstration for Secularism

Izmir- May 13, 2007

Choking the highways and crammed onto ferries, hundreds of thousands of Turks streamed into this port city on Sunday in an enormous show of opposition to the pro-Islamic ruling party, saying it threatened to destroy the country’s modern foundations.
Some 1.5 million protesters carried anti-government banners, red-and-white Turkish flags and pictures of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the secular republic in 1923. Turkish flags hung from balconies and windows, as well as buses and fishing boats and yachts bobbing in Izmir’s bay.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18641418/ns/world_news-europe/

Friday, January 7, 2011

Clair de Lune played on a Theremin

The theremin was the first electronic musical instrument. Invented in 1919 by Russian Lev Sergeivitch Termen (later anglicized to Léon Théremin), the Thereminvox was an offshoot of government-sponsored research into proximity sensors. Consisting of a box with two radio antennae, the Theremin was unique in that it required no physical contact in order to produce music; instead, a performer could control both the pitch and volume of the sound simply by moving his or her hands in the air..

Randy George is one of the few theremin virtuosi who perform primarily classical music. Randy has performed at international theremin festivals including Ether Music Festival in Asheville, North Carolina and Lippstadt Without Touch Theremin Festival in Lippstadt, Germany.

Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy Studio Performance January 2010

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