Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Poem o' the Day


Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
straying planets,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles --
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.

--Gary Snyder

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Weather Map

My new favorite weather map.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Baghdad Burning

Here's a blog by an Iraqi -- Baghdad Burning. This post is very sobering. I try my hardest to not be a knee-jerk liberal and I sure don't want to turn this into a Democrats vs. Republicans issue and after reading this blog (and all accounts really) how could anyone possibly do that? President Bush and his administration got us into this and both Democrats and Republicans okayed the invasion of Iraq and the press didn't question the proof of WMD's and so on and on. Blame falls on many. But what does that matter now? What do we do now? Does the President's plan have ANY chance of working? I'm not going to demonize it just because I want a democrat in the White House, but can anything work now? Doesn't this seem hopeless? I mean truly HOPELESS!

Sorry for the downer, but this blog really made the situation more present. Here is her end of the year post --

End of Another Year...
You know your country is in trouble when:
The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

A day in the life of the average Iraqi has been reduced to identifying corpses, avoiding car bombs and attempting to keep track of which family members have been detained, which ones have been exiled and which ones have been abducted.

2006 has been, decidedly, the worst year yet. No- really. The magnitude of this war and occupation is only now hitting the country full force. It's like having a big piece of hard, dry earth you are determined to break apart. You drive in the first stake in the form of an infrastructure damaged with missiles and the newest in arms technology, the first cracks begin to form. Several smaller stakes come in the form of politicians like Chalabi, Al Hakim, Talbani, Pachachi, Allawi and Maliki. The cracks slowly begin to multiply and stretch across the once solid piece of earth, reaching out towards its edges like so many skeletal hands. And you apply pressure. You surround it from all sides and push and pull. Slowly, but surely, it begins coming apart- a chip here, a chunk there.

That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The 'mistakes' were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

The question now is, but why? I really have been asking myself that these last few days. What does America possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I'm certain only raving idiots still believe this war and occupation were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam.

Al Qaeda? That's laughable. Bush has effectively created more terrorists in Iraq these last 4 years than Osama could have created in 10 different terrorist camps in the distant hills of Afghanistan. Our children now play games of 'sniper' and 'jihadi', pretending that one hit an American soldier between the eyes and this one overturned a Humvee.

This last year especially has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost so much. So much. There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 40 corpses are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculous- like whether your name is 'too Sunni' or 'too Shia'. Fear of the larger things- like the Americans in the tank, the police patrolling your area in black bandanas and green banners, and the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

Again, I can't help but ask myself why this was all done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer. Their presence in Iraq is so well-established, publicly criticizing a cleric or ayatollah verges on suicide. Has the situation gone so beyond America that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school- it's just not safe.

Why make things worse by insisting on Saddam's execution now? Who gains if they hang Saddam? Iran, naturally, but who else? There is a real fear that this execution will be the final blow that will shatter Iraq. Some Sunni and Shia tribes have threatened to arm their members against the Americans if Saddam is executed. Iraqis in general are watching closely to see what happens next, and quietly preparing for the worst.

This is because now, Saddam no longer represents himself or his regime. Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs (never mind most of his government were Shia). The Americans, through their speeches and news articles and Iraqi Puppets, have made it very clear that they consider him to personify Sunni Arab resistance to the occupation. Basically, with this execution, what the Americans are saying is "Look- Sunni Arabs- this is your man, we all know this. We're hanging him- he symbolizes you." And make no mistake about it, this trial and verdict and execution are 100% American. Some of the actors were Iraqi enough, but the production, direction and montage was pure Hollywood (though low-budget, if you ask me).

That is, of course, why Talbani doesn't want to sign his death penalty- not because the mob man suddenly grew a conscience, but because he doesn't want to be the one who does the hanging- he won't be able to travel far away enough if he does that.

Maliki's government couldn't contain their glee. They announced the ratification of the execution order before the actual court did. A few nights ago, some American news program interviewed Maliki's bureau chief, Basim Al-Hassani who was speaking in accented American English about the upcoming execution like it was a carnival he'd be attending. He sat, looking sleazy and not a little bit ridiculous, his dialogue interspersed with 'gonna', 'gotta' and 'wanna'... Which happens, I suppose, when the only people you mix with are American soldiers.

My only conclusion is that the Americans want to withdraw from Iraq, but would like to leave behind a full-fledged civil war because it wouldn't look good if they withdraw and things actually begin to improve, would it?

Here we come to the end of 2006 and I am sad. Not simply sad for the state of the country, but for the state of our humanity, as Iraqis. We've all lost some of the compassion and civility that I felt made us special four years ago. I take myself as an example. Nearly four years ago, I cringed every time I heard about the death of an American soldier. They were occupiers, but they were humans also and the knowledge that they were being killed in my country gave me sleepless nights. Never mind they crossed oceans to attack the country, I actually felt for them.

Had I not chronicled those feelings of agitation in this very blog, I wouldn't believe them now. Today, they simply represent numbers. 3000 Americans dead over nearly four years? Really? That's the number of dead Iraqis in less than a month. The Americans had families? Too bad. So do we. So do the corpses in the streets and the ones waiting for identification in the morgue.

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he's wanted to marry for the last six years? I don't think so.

Just because Americans die in smaller numbers, it doesn't make them more significant, does it?

The Human Journey

There's a new Genographic Project through The National Geographic Society that will help us "understand the human journey—where we came from and how we got to where we live today. This unprecedented effort will map humanity's genetic journey through the ages." To participate you have to shell out a hundred bucks, but you also get information on your own ancestors' journey. I hope to do it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Warriors of the Clouds

from National Geographic.com

It's the return of the mummies for one Peruvian museum. On January 11 the Museum of the Nation in Lima opened to the public a collection of Incan and Chachapoya Indian remains (such as the one seen here at a preview) from between A.D. 900 and 1500.

The Chachapoyas, or "warriors of the clouds," lived in the cloud forests of the Amazonas region of modern-day Peru. Just before the arrival of the Spanish to the New World, the Inca conquered the Chachapoyas, though incorporating them into the empire was difficult because of fierce resistance.

—Photograph by Mariana Bazo/REUTERS

Friday, January 12, 2007


One of the many reasons I don't watch American Idol.


Here is Frank Luntz on Fresh Air. My stomach turned while listening to this BS artist. He says he wants clarity in language. So when he says "Death Tax" instead of "Estate Tax" he is only clarifying language? Or exploration instead of drilling, or climate change instead of global warming. He uses Orwell's Politics and the English Language as precedent for his distortion of language! How can a person fight absurdity?! This man is writing the language that the Republican party uses. This is happening every second a talking head is on one of the many cable "news" networks. How can it be stopped? It works!

His company mantra -- "It's not what you say, it's what they hear."

Luntz on Frontline

A funny look at Lunztspeak but it is outdated.

Great doubt: great awakening.
Little doubt: little awakening.
No doubt: no awakening.
— Zen koan

Pan's Labyrinth

We saw Pan's Labyrinth and there wasn't enough Pan OR Labryinth. All in all it was good, but not great. I kept waiting for it to get to the "good" stuff.

This dude was imaginative and creepy, but didn't really do much to add to the story. The fantasy vs. reality was disconnected so much that it seemed the fantasy was just there for a little eye candy. I think the writer didn't know that fantasy can be just as meaningful (or more so) as reality.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

barn owl

I love old barns, but this one is special because there is a Snowy Owl on top of it! This is a picture taken by a birder named Jane Ward in Livingston County Illinois. This has been an invasion year for snowies. There have been 4-5 seen in Kansas and 2-3 seen in IL. This usually happens in years where the vole population in Canada is very low and the owls must move south to find food. A different Snowy Owl in IL was hit by a car a week ago (it was taken to a rehabilitator, but I haven't heard if it survived). These birds are usually emaciated and vulnerable to predation and car strikes, so seeing one is cool, but also a little sad.

Poem of the day

Barbed Wire

One summer afternoon when nothing much
was happening, they were standing around
a tractor beside the barn while a horse
in the field poked his head between two strands
of the barbed-wire fence to get at the grass
along the lane, when it happened-something

they passed around the wood stove late at night
for years, but never could explain-someone
may have dropped a wrench into the toolbox
or made a sudden move, or merely thought
what might happen if the horse got scared, and
then he did get scared, jumped sideways and ran

down the fence line, leaving chunks of his throat
skin and hair on every barb for ten feet
before he pulled free and ran a short way
into the field, stopped and planted his hoofs
wide apart like a sawhorse, hung his head
down as if to watch his blood running out,

almost as if he were about to speak
to them, who almost thought he could regret
that he no longer had the strength to stand,
then shuddered to his knees, fell on his side,
and gave up breathing while the dripping wire
hummed like a bowstring in the splintered air.

by Henry Taylor

Get Lost!

I found an interesting zine from Moab, UT called
The Canyon Country Zephyr. Check it out.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Pancho, Lefty, Willie, Bob and Townes

Two of my favorites playing one of my favorite songs! And yes, youtube has taken over my blog.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007