...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

January 31, 2006

You Can Bet The Ranch

There'll be no suspense at the Oscars this year.

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January 30, 2006

Dark Days In Television History

April 27, 1995: The first appearance of the David Puddy character on Seinfeld.

Nothing against Patrick Warburton. I was just watching a Seinfeld rerun tonight -- the face-painting episode -- and it finally dawned on me. The decline of Seinfeld's writing definitely coincided with the emergence of the Puddy character. By season seven it had stopped being a show about nothing and become a show about callousness, thus jumping the shark.

Posted by annika at 11:20 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

A Little Change For This Year

Normally a response to the State of the Union address is released after the president's speech. In an interesting procedural twist, the Democratic response was released beforehand this year.

Posted by annika at 04:22 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Benedict's First Encyclical

An excellent short post on Pope Benedict's Deus Caritas Est is over at Hugo's. I wholeheartedly agree with the Pope, and Hugo's, thoughts on the separation of charity and proselytization. Although I recognize that for much of my church's history, that separation was blurred at best. I do think it's most effective, especially on a personal level, to proclaim the Gospel more by example and less by argument.

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Miscellaneous Thoughts Blogged Off The Phone With A Starbuck's Before Class

1. I'm taking suggestions for a spring Fash-ism photo essay. Leave one in the comments.

2. Is the starling an ugly bird or a handsome bird?

3. That crane reminds me of the alien machines in Spielberg's War Of The Worlds. Dang, they were scary.

4. Hey over there. In the world of foundation, less is more. Look into it.

5. What is that smell?

6. I want an Audi TT convertible. Those things are sweet.

7. Shit, it's time to go. Do I have to go?

More scintillating blog content later.

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January 25, 2006

My First AI Post Of The New Season

1. Have you noticed how touchy and flirty the guys are with Paula this season?

2. Put me in the column of folks who are bored with the Diva voice.

3. The Sacramento area representin' tonight - embarassingly. What was with that MJ impersonator they passed? Eeek. And that dude from Elk Grove who tried to sing Clay? Bwahahaha.

Posted by annika at 08:41 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Shame On Google

Screw democratic idealism, Google takes the money.

Google's launch of a new, self-censored search engine in China is a 'black day' for freedom of expression, a leading international media watchdog says.
Reporters Without Borders joined others in asking how Google could stand up for US users' freedoms while controlling what Chinese users can search for.

Its previous search engine for China's fast-growing market was subject to government blocks.

The new site - Google.cn - censors itself to satisfy Beijing.

. . .

It is believed that sensitive topics are likely to include independence for Taiwan and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, as well as human rights and democracy in China generally.

That pesky human rights again. Like CNN in pre-war Iraq, Google would rather stay in the market than actually stand up for something noble.
Google argues it would be more damaging to pull out of China altogether and says that in contrast to other search engines, it will inform users when access is restricted on certain search terms.
"More damaging" to whom? Google shareholders I'd guess.

Unbelievable Update: Google founder Sergey Brin, in a lame attempt to defend Google's decision, actually compared censorship of information about Taiwanese independence, the Tiananmen massacre, human rights and democracy with censorship of child pornography! Sort of.

Brin: . . . [W]e also by the way have to do similar things in the U.S. and Germany. We also have to block certain material based on law. The U.S., child pornography, for example . . .
I like how Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, summed this up:
I'm sure Google justifies this by saying it's just a couple of search words that people can't get to, but it's very difficult for Google to do what they just did and avoid the slippery slope. The next thing [China will] do is ask [Google] to tell them who is searching for 'Taiwan' or 'independence' or 'human rights.' And then it's going to find itself in the position of turning over the names of dissidents or simply of inquisitive individuals, for imprisonment.

The key in my view is that every company faces the same dilemma -- how do you maintain your principles while benefiting from the enormous Chinese market. And the answer is only going to come through safety in numbers. And it's going to require all of the search engines to get together and say 'None of us will do this.' And China needs search engines. If it can pick them off one at a time, it wins. If it faces all of the search engines at once banding together, the search engines win.

Google's got a great philosophy of 'Do No Evil.' And I'm sure they say well, 'It's better for us to be there than for us not to be there and there are just a few things that people can't search for.' . . . I would have expected better from Google.

Not me.

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Wednesday Is Robert Burns's Birthday

Robert Burns, the great Scottish poet, was born on this day in 1759. He is probably most famous for having written Auld Lang Syne. Now I know there are some Burns fans out there. Here's on he wrote in honor of his own birthday.

Sonnet Written On The Author's Birthday,

On hearing a Thrush sing in his Morning Walk.

Sing on, sweet thrush, upon the leafless bough,
Sing on, sweet bird, I listen to thy strain,
See aged Winter, 'mid his surly reign,
At thy blythe carol, clears his furrowed brow.

So in lone Poverty's dominion drear,
Sits meek Content with light, unanxious heart;
Welcomes the rapid moments, bids them part,
Nor asks if they bring ought to hope or fear.

I thank thee, Author of this opening day!
Thou whose bright sun now gilds yon orient skies!
Riches denied, thy boon was purer joys-
What wealth could never give nor take away!

Yet come, thou child of poverty and care,
The mite high heav'n bestow'd, that mite with thee I'll share.

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January 24, 2006

Another Crazy Dream I Had

Along the lines of my weird Tom Cruise dream, I had another crazy dream last night. Bea Arthur, Betty White and Estelle Getty were in it. They formed a rap group, calling themselves the Insane Bingo Posse. They had a huge following, much like the Dead or Phish used to have. All young people too. Somehow I found myself watching them at Shoreline Amphitheatre with my old friends from high school. Weird huh? I blame it on the dip from last night. We had some chips. We had some leftover sour cream. We were hungry. So we decided to make some dip. There was a package of Lipton onion soup mix in the back of the pantry that was about five years old. But I figured, hey, soup mix don't go bad right?. So we mixed up some dip, and ate it with a bowl of Tostitos. It wasn't bad. However, among other side effects that I won't go into, which also occurred during the middle of the night, I had that crazy dream.

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Unsolicited Advice For The New CW Network

We already got a country and western network on cable. It's called CWT. Not everyone likes country music, but I have a solution, which should help bring in more viewers.

Add David Gilmour to the Gilmore Girls' cast. This will bring in the casual rock & roll viewer who would otherwise channel surf past the CW network.

On a somewhat unrelated subject, Time Warner cable service sucks logs. Comcast is way better.

I would also suggest tinkering with the names of some of CW's sitcoms. Smallville should be changed to Well-hungville, to capture the more discerning female viewer. And Everybody Hates Chris should be Everybody Loves Chris. Why would I want to watch if you're already telling me I'm not going to like the main character? And it goes without saying that America's Top Model should be changed to America's Top Nude Model, or maybe America's Top Drunk Nude Model. That's a no-brainer and a sure ratings getter.

Finally, fire Les Moonves. I don't like him, and I never know how to pronounce his last name. It sounds like he should have been a character on WKRP.

Posted by annika at 01:24 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

Senate Judiciary Committee refers Alito to the full Senate.

Posted by annika at 12:39 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

What's More Annoying...

the concept of "high energy" in advertising?

...or some other thing?

Update: "High energy" would be like loud upbeat music, lots of dancing kids, bright primary colors in motion, maybe a cartoon character or two breakdancing.

Okay, I got something more annoying, maybe. How about that barrista who's having so much fun she's just gotta yell all the time?

Posted by annika at 07:56 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

Long Live The Whale

I could only come up with four flippant* comments about the whale. They are as follows:

  1. Haven't seen this many Londerners lining up to see a dead body since Diana's funeral.
  2. Why make such a big deal over this whale, when thousands of fish are lost along the Thames every day, and no one tries to save them. It's species favoritism, I tell you.
  3. Is there a way they can blame Bush for this one?
  4. "Unsuccessful attempts had been made during the night to encourage the Thames whale to swim back downriver." Maybe they should have tried a bikini whale.
Extremely lame, I know. Okay, so you can do better?

* Five if you count that pun.

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Two Words

Cinnamon dolce!

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January 20, 2006


Ten Top Trivia Tips about ANNIKA!

  1. Ninety-six percent of all candles sold are purchased by ANNIKA.
  2. About one tenth of ANNIKA is permanently covered in ice.
  3. The patron saint of ANNIKA is Saint Eugenie.
  4. A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are individually known as ANNIKA!
  5. Olive oil was used for washing ANNIKA in the ancient Mediterranean world.
  6. New Zealand was the first place to allow ANNIKA to vote.
  7. Some birds use ANNIKA to orientate themselves during migration.
  8. The Church of Scientology was founded in 1953, at Washington D.C., by ANNIKA.
  9. Bananas don't grow on trees - they grow on ANNIKA.
  10. ANNIKA has three eyelids.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Via Dawn.

Posted by annika at 08:18 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Dancing Blogging, The Sequel

Jerry: Posture, dude. Stop watching your partner. You can do better. My mom still loves you.

Giselle: Wow. Another nice routine. I love the tango. It's so fun with a partner who knows what he's doing. The judges are whack. She did good.

Drew & Cheryl: If Drew shows improvement every week, it's because Cheryl is probably the best pro on the show. And he's coachable. Only negative: he wasn't in synch at times (no pun intended).

Aside: I checked out that skating show last night, expecting it to be better, but it was not as entertaining as this dancing show.

George: He's so funny. But that was not good. No posture. No movement. By the way, is he Warren Beatty's long lost brother, or what?

Lisa: Casca is right about her lips. I thought she did fine. I love the bubble-gum flapper suit. I could not pull it off, but my friend Betty would totally wear something like that. She's curvy like Lisa Rinna. I wonder if that outfit is for sale at Lisa's store?

Stacy: I send my boyfriend out of the room when she's on. Fantastic. Best tango of the night so far. The ringer didn't disappoint. The judges suck.

Master P: He's like Kobe, uncoachable. When he dances, I want to leave the room. I could tell he was trying harder this week, but it's hopeless. He dances worse than my brother. On the other hand, the judges still suck.

Tia: Schwing! Better than Stacy's! The best choreographed routine of the night, too. That dorky judge said: "a little too much of an Argentinian flavor." WTF? Isn't that a good thing when doing a tango?

Final thoughts: The best jive was Drew's and the best tango was Tia's. Master P should probably be eliminated tomorrow night.

Posted by annika at 08:04 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Tell Me What You Think?

Should the U.S. negotiate a truce with Al Qaeda? Yes or no, and why.

Posted by annika at 07:35 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

Chocolate City

I don't really have a problem with what Ray Nagin said yesterday about New Orleans as a chocolate city. (I'm certainly no fan of Mayor Nagin, and I can't defend the other stuff he said. I think there should be a moratorium on public figures talking about why God does stuff. It always results in the speaker apologizing within a week, so why bother.)

A lot of people sound shocked at the words "chocolate city," but it's an old school phrase that I was first introduced to back when I worked as a temp in downtown Oakland. We used to bring in CDs to listen to while we shuffled paper. A friend of mine brought in the Parliament CD, which featured this title song:

Uh, what's happening CC?
They still call it the White House
But that's a temporary condition, too.
Can you dig it, CC?

To each his reach
And if I don't cop, it ain't mine to have
But I'll be reachin' for ya
'Cause I love ya, CC.
Right on.

There's a lot of chocolate cities, around
We've got Newark, we've got Gary
Somebody told me we got L.A.
And we're working on Atlanta
But you're the capital, CC

Gainin' on ya!
Get down
Gainin' on ya!
Movin' in and on ya
Gainin' on ya!
Can't you feel my breath, heh
Gainin' on ya!
All up around your neck, heh heh

Hey, CC!
They say your jivin' game, it can't be changed
But on the positive side,
You're my piece of the rock
And I love you, CC.
Can you dig it?

Hey, uh, we didn't get our forty acres and a mule
But we did get you, CC, heh, yeah
Gainin' on ya
Movin' in and around ya
God bless CC and its vanilla suburbs

Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya! (heh!)
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
What's happening, blood?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!

What's happening, black?
Brother black, blood even
Yeah-ahh, just funnin'

Gettin' down

Ah, blood to blood
Ah, players to ladies
The last percentage count was eighty
You don't need the bullet when you got the ballot
Are you up for the downstroke, CC?
Chocolate city
Are you with me out there?

And when they come to march on ya
Tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of FINE arts
And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
Are you out there, CC?
A chocolate city is no dream
It's my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin' on ya!) vanilla suburbs
Can y'all get to that?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Easin' in
Gainin' on ya!
In yo' stuff
Gainin' on ya!
Huh, can't get enough
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Be mo' funk, be mo' funk
Gainin' on ya!
Can we funk you too
Gainin' on ya!
Right on, chocolate city!

Yeah, get deep
Real deep
Be mo' funk
Mmmph, heh
Get deep
Unh, heh
Just got New York, I'm told

It's a cool song, and the sentiment is about pride, not racism. I think there is real concern that the new New Orleans will become some kind of sanitized N.O. themed resort. I'd hate to see it become a city-sized Pleasure Island or Universal Citywalk. Mayor Nagin was just using a colloquial reference that his audience understood to assure them that New Orleans was going to stay real.

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January 12, 2006

Dancing Blogging

Lisa Rinni: cute, but no cigar.

Drew Lachey: ho-hum.

Tia: I think the chick judge is propping her scores up. Much better this week though.

I'm becoming a big George Hamilton fan. He's having the most fun out there and he refuses to take himself seriously.

Tatum Oneal: did she just flash a cameltoe?

Jerry: love that guy. Great routine too. Nice job.

Wrestler chick: her bod adds 1 to 2 points to her score. It's not fair. She's got to be gettin it on with the dude. I can tell.

Master P: ironically, he could use a little more hip-hop in his step.

Giselle Fernandez: nice abs, but who is she? Is she a celebrity? I thought hers was the best choreographed of the night.

Update: My mom, who previously could never be bothered with anything football related, now announces that she has a crush on Jerry Rice.

Posted by annika at 08:50 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

What Is The Goal Of Diplomacy?

There was quite a lengthy question and answer period yesterday with State Department spokesman Sean McCormack at his daily press briefing. The key quote is that the admistration now believes it is "more likely than ever" that Iran will be referred to the U.N. Security Council for resuming their nuclear research program.

I'll excerpt some of the press conference in detail because Mr. McCormack expanded on a question I had been pondering myself regarding the diplomatic option: Assuming we get Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council, what good is that going to do? You tell me if his answer makes you feel any better.

QUESTION: When you say this is likely to go to the Security Council, what is the goal of . . . sending it to the UN Security Council? Is it an effort to institute some punitive measures against Iran? Is it an effort to increase pressure on Iran to get it back to the negotiating table? I mean, what is the aim of actually moving it to the Council?

MR. MCCORMACK: Thanks for your question. As we have talked about, the goal of these diplomatic activities is to address Iran's failure to live up to its international obligations. Under -- countries sign treaties and under those treaties they say that they have certain rights. Well, along with those rights come certain obligations, to live up to the -- what you have signed up to in the treaty. In this case, it's the Nonproliferation Treaty.

The IAEA Board of Governors has found that Iran is in noncompliance with its treaty obligations. The goal of this diplomatic exercise is to bring Iran into compliance with its treaty obligations.

Now, what they say is that they want to be able to develop a peaceful nuclear program to provide energy for the Iranian people. Now, put aside the fact that they have some of the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves, and I think it's a legitimate question to ask why they need nuclear energy when they have all these energy reserves. Put that aside.

So what the international community has done, the Russian Government in particular, they have laid out for the Iranian regime a proposal that addresses their desire to have peaceful nuclear -- to develop peaceful nuclear power while giving objective guarantees to the international community that they will not use the activities -- their peaceful nuclear power activities to develop a nuclear weapon. That is what the international community suspects that they are doing right now, that for the past 15-plus years, they have, under the cover of a peaceful nuclear program, sought to develop, systematically, a nuclear weapons program.

Now, finally, these activities have come to light. The IAEA has a long list of questions concerning these activities. The EU-3 has grave concerns about Iran's activities. Russia has serious concerns about Iran's activities. We have gotten to the point now where the world understands that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. That would be a destabilizing event.

So, over the past year, the international community has come together. They have come together to try to send a clear, strong message to the Iranian regime to negotiate in a serious manner, to get Iran back in compliance with its NPT obligations. And the EU-3, as well as the Russian Government, have laid out serious, fair proposals to achieve that. Thus far, the Iranian Government has chosen not to take them up on those offers, so we now find ourselves in the position where, because of Iran's actions, it is more likely than ever they will find themselves before the Security Council on this issue.

QUESTION: But to what end? I mean, I know you said you --

MR. MCCORMACK: I think I just went through a long --

QUESTION: No, no, no, but -- I mean, are you trying to change Iranian behavior or are you just trying to cite them for noncompliance? I mean, you can do that at the IAEA.

MR. MCCORMACK: That’s what this has been about, changing their behavior.

QUESTION: So -- but through negotiations or through punitive measures?

MR. MCCORMACK: We have sought diplomatic -- to achieve a change in behavior and still seek to change Iranian's -- Iran's behavior through diplomatic channels.

QUESTION: So you still think there's a chance? (inaudible) made a rather strong speech about a month ago to a university in Virginia, I forget which, and -- you know, he was quite -- it was a quite ominous speech, that they have one more redline to cross. There are reports now that they got 5,000 centrifuges to go. There’s already platforms built for them and a nuclear weapons center. Do you really think there's still a way to keep them from developing nuclear weapons?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's why we're working so hard on this, Barry.


MR. MCCORMACK: That's why the President and the Secretary and a lot of other people in this government are spending so much time on this issue, because it is so important. It's serious business and that is, I think, the shared realization and the shared view of the -- many European countries and a number of other countries on the IAEA Board of Governors. That's why we're working so hard at this, Barry.

QUESTION: How does getting Iran into the Security Council further your goal of bringing them into compliance?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it is a diplomatic next step, Saul. They've already been found in noncompliance and the hope is that once they have now found themselves before the Security Council, that that would be an incentive for them to engage in serious negotiations on this issue. There have already -- as we talked about at length yesterday, there have already been consequences for Iran, in the fact that they find themselves almost completely isolated from the rest of the world on this -- most of the world on this issue.

You want to account for the fact that perhaps they have miscalculated in the steps that they have taken, their failure to engage in serious negotiations. So, the thought, again, as it always has been with the possibility of referral to the Security Council, is to send an even stronger diplomatic signal to the Iranian regime that they need to comply with their international treaty obligations. And the world will not stand aside as they drive towards building a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: But Sean, they did everything they possibly could to push it to the UN Security Council, because you said that if they don't come back to the negotiations, that's exactly where it's going. And they did exactly what they said they were going to do, knowing that you were going to refer them to the Security Council. So, what makes you think moving it to the Security Council is going to change their behavior when they knew all along it was going this --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, we have not gotten to that point, but if, in fact, Iran does end up at the Security Council -- the very fact that you are there, that they have crossed those lines that have caused the international community to put that issue before the Security Council, perhaps that is a signal that is strong enough to the Iranian regime that would get them to the negotiating table, in a serious way, to address these concerns.

. . .

QUESTION: . . . So, if I'm interpreting you correctly, the short-term goal is, get them referred to the UN Security Council so that they realize they've miscalculated -- so that they realize the international community really is serious about this and the consequence of that is, they go back to the negotiating table.

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, our hope has always been, Saul, to resolve this through diplomatic means through negotiation, so that -- and our hope is that Iran will change its behavior. That's why we go through these diplomatic processes. The process is not an end in and of itself. It's a means to an end. The end -- the desired end is to change Iranian behavior.
[emphasis added]

I think the unnamed reporter had it correct. Iran knew that the consequence of provoking the international community on this issue might be a referral to the Security Council. They also know that the wheels of international law move very slowly and uncertainly. The Iranians need time, and the diplomatic option gives them time.

Posted by annika at 11:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 11, 2006

Turning The Process Into A Game

I suppose I should be happy that the "new media" is around to do this kind of thing and keep everybody honest, but the following post at Blogs For Bush horrified me:

As of 3:00pm today, Judge Alito has already answered more questions than Justice Ginsburg did in her entire hearing.

Judge Alito:

441 Questions Asked
431 Answered
Answered 98 %

Justice Ginsburg:

384 Questions Asked
307 Answered
Answered 80%

So much for the Democrats' claims that Alito hasn't been forthcoming.

I'm horrified that the confirmation process has become so insanely partisan that my side is ready to bicker about percentages!

It's reductio ad absurdum.

Posted by annika at 05:38 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Wednesday Is Poetry Day

For the first poetry day of 2006, I've selected my favorite poem by Brian Turner, perhaps the best known poet of the Iraq War.

Turner is a fantastic poet, and it's no surprise to me that his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon is in poetry .

Turner—also known as Sergeant T. or 'the professor'—was a team leader in the first Stryker brigade to be sent into the combat zone, and was stationed, for much of 2004, near Mosul. He wrote his poems secretly. People in the Army knew that he had a master’s degree, but no one ever asked him what it was for—it was an M.F.A. in poetry, from the University of Oregon—and he saw no reason to advertise it. Noncommissioned officers, he says, are the 'backbone of the Army,' and 'it’s hard to be hard-nosed if you’re writing poetry.' He didn’t want his underlings to think he was writing about 'flowers and stuff like that.'
That was from a New Yorker bio of the poet. Wikipedia adds that the seven year Army veteran served with the 10th Mountain in Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1999 and 2000.

So Turner's soldier credentials are solid. "But Annika," you ask, "what's his view on the war?" Just enjoy the poem first. It stands on its own regardless of anybody's politics.


Camp Wolverine, Kuwait

Staff Sergeant Garza, the mortuary affairs specialist
from Missouri, switches on the music to hear
there’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky, honey,
as she slices out a Y-incision with a scalpel
from collarbone to breastplate, from the xiphoid process
down the smooth skin of the belly, bringing light
into the great cavern of the body, in the deep flesh
where she cuts the cords which bind the heart,
lifting it in her gloved palms, measuring the organ
for its weight, though she can’t help but wonder
what this heart has known, the secrets it holds,
how fast this heart beat when he first kissed
Shawna Allen, her lips the soft pink carnations
of spring, how they woke at dawn in Half Moon Bay
to make love in the ice-plant dunes, their hair
tangled in salt as the foam washed in, this heart
heavy with whiskey and the long midnights
driven by rain and all that life humbles in us,
a heart made of the times his father woke him
to see a meteor shower, telling him stories
of the moon, of how the Arabs believe it gathers
the souls of the dead when it fills with light,
how it carries them to the sun once it’s full,
that’s what this heart holds in Garza’s hands,
thirty-four years of a life, a montage of America,
the long caravan of moments we gather
in an unwritten epic we carry within us, what is given
in ash to the earth and sea by caring hands
if we’re lucky, by someone like her,
who sings low at the chorus, saying
there’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky,
weather’s gonna break and hell’s gonna fly,
baby, sweet thing, darlin

Author’s note: Italicized lines are from “Black Wind Blowing” by Woody Guthrie.

More Turner can be found at The Georgia Review. The .pdf page is here.

As a veteran, what does Turner say about the War?

History may prove me wrong, but at this point in time I cannot say that the lives lost have been worth the cost. As a country, are we learning from this experience? In regard to love and relationships and personal development, I think it worth noting that there are many returning veterans who will need help for PTSD [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder]. There are many organizations which are trying to bridge the divide and offer assistance to those who need it.
I'd say Turner leans toward the tradition of Owen and Sassoon. Not my view, but that's pretty decent company for a poet to be in.

Posted by annika at 06:12 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 10, 2006

Iran's Nuclear Timeline

From The Houston Chronicle, here's a history of Iran's nuclear mischief:

February-May 2003: International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors examine nuclear facilities in Iran, which the United States accuses of running a covert weapons program.

June 2003: IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei says Iran kept certain nuclear materials and activities secret.

November 2003: The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says Iran acknowledged it produced weapons-grade uranium but there is no evidence a weapon was built.

December 2003: Iran formally signs the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to allow more intrusive inspections.

February 2004: Media reports say Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan delivered atomic weapons technology to Iran.

March 2004: The IAEA praises Iran's cooperation but criticizes past efforts to mislead the U.N. and urges Tehran to disclose all information concerning its nuclear program by June.

September 2004: Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iran's nuclear program is a growing threat and calls for international sanctions.

November 2004: Iran announces the suspension of uranium enrichment and related activities amid fragile negotiations with European nations.

August 2005: Iran rejects a European Union offer of incentives in exchange for guarantees it will not pursue nuclear weaponry. Tehran announces it has resumed uranium conversion at Isfahan, and the IAEA calls an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis.

Sept. 17, 2005: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tells U.N. Security Council it is Iran's "inalienable right" to produce nuclear fuel and rejects European offer of economic incentives to halt enrichment program.

Sept. 24, 2005: IAEA passes resolution calling Iran's nuclear program "illegal and illogical" and puts Tehran one step away from Security Council action on sanctions.

Nov. 11, 2005: Plans emerge for Russian offer to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian soil.

Nov. 24, 2005: The European Union accuses Iran of possessing documents used solely for the production of nuclear arms, warns of possible referral to Security Council.

Jan. 8, 2006: Iran removes U.N. seals from nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, effectively ending a freeze on the process that can produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

Coming up, I see three more relevant and key dates.

First, the upcoming March date for Mohammed ElBaradei's report to the IAEA. The report should determine whether the U.N. Security Council will meet to impose sanctions, however impotent, against Iran.

Second, the March 28th special election in Israel, which will form the new government to replace Sharon's, and consequently determine Israel's response to the Iranian threat.

Third, the date Iran gets the bomb. Obviously, the third date is unknown, and therein lies the problem.

Update: On a theme that's more related to the title of my last post, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said today that sanctions against Iran would be imposed only as "a last resort." Wait a minute, I thought "military action" was always the last resort. I guess the unspoken but logical assumption here is that a military solution is off the table for the Europeans. Again.

Nice. Thanks guys.

I'm not advocating a military solution, which has many problems as some of my commenters have pointed out. But diplomacy without teeth is always doomed to failure.

Posted by annika at 12:54 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 09, 2006

Don't Make Me Laugh

Here's a good one:

Each of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has told Iran to drop plans for new nuclear activities or risk being hauled before the body for possible sanctions, the Bush administration said Monday.

Although the United States and European allies have been sending that message for weeks, China and Russia are now doing the same, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

'We are working very closely with Russia, China and France and Britain on sending a clear message to the Iranians,' McCormack said.

[pause for laughter to die down]

This is exactly what the Iranians want us to do. They have no intention of negotiating away their nuclear ambition. Despite their double-talk, they've been very clear about that. I can't be the only one who gets this.

The Iranians have been very clear about another thing too:

Iran with the bomb = nuclear war.

Given that fact, nothing else in the news matters these days. Alito don't matter. Spielberg don't matter. DeLay don't matter. Kobe don't matter. Brokenback Mountain don't matter. Pink and Carey don't matter. O'Reilly and Letterman don't matter. Stern on Sirius don't matter. Pat Robertson's latest brain-fart don't matter. Schwarzenegger's fifteen stitches don't matter. etc. etc. etc.

Commentators all seem to be standing around, watching as this ship goes over the cliff. Or whatever. It's infuriating. I'd like to hear some intelligent discussion about what we should do about this big problem.

Update: More detail may be found at Arms Control Wonk.

Posted by annika at 03:13 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Help Kyle Find His Spaceman


I'm worried about you Kyle.

Posted by annika at 10:33 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

January 04, 2006

4th Quarter Comment

As Butch Cassidy once remarked, "who are these guys?"

Update: 38 to 33 with 3:08 left. I hope you all took the over.

Update 2: :19 left. Oh.My.God.

Update 3: That game was as good as the ABC announcers were biased.

Posted by annika at 08:54 PM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

Here's Where You Need Unions

From L.A. Times:

The mine's federal health and safety violations had nearly doubled over the last year, rising from 68 citations in 2004 to 181 in 2005. Nearly half of the 2005 totals were deemed "significant and substantial," the government's term for serious mine safety problems. The deficiencies included problems with the firm's ventilation and roof support plans.

At least 46 federal violations had been cited since October. And records from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration indicated that at least a dozen roof collapses occurred in the last six months.

In addition, Terry Farley, a West Virginia mine safety official, confirmed that the Sago Mine was also cited by state regulators for 208 violations in 2005, up from 74 the year before.

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January 01, 2006

Match Point


I got to see Woody Allen's Match Point today during its limited release. The movie is showing on only a couple of screens in the whole country. (I love L.A.) I saw it at the new Century City AMC 15 theater, right by where I used to work.

On a side note, the City of L.A. has finally decided to get rid of "little" Santa Monica Boulevard. For those of you unfamiliar with this idiosyncratic roadway, "little" Santa Monica ran alongside "real" Santa Monica from West L.A. to Beverly Hills. It's a very busy east-west route, and there was no logical reason for the redundancy. It looks like when they're done it will be twice as wide and much less confusing for the non-native driver. Good job.

So anyways, the one o'clock bargain matinee was still eight-fucking-fifty dollars at the Century City Theater, which makes me wonder what full price is. It was a full house. I'm pretty sure I was the only shikse in there too. And the youngest. It was a Woody Allen picture, after all.

I can't ruin the movie for you, because I want you to see it. The ending is really cool. I give it four stars: "liked it a lot." Woody can still make movies. I will say this: it's not about tennis. It's mainly a love triangle thing.

If you liked Closer, you'll like Match Point. The two movies are similar in many ways. Both have main characters who are feckless Brits, while Match Point has the added advantage of not having Natalie Portman in it.

Scarlett Johansson was awesome as expected. Her character is an unlikeable but sexy bitch. It's a nuanced performance. There are a lot of close-up shots, and you can't fake that kind of acting. The girl's got amazing talent.

The central theme of Match Point is the role of chance in life. Like how one little chance occurrence that you have no control over, and maybe don't even know about, can make a huge difference in your life. It made me think about how I might be married right now if a certain guy had been in the office instead of out when I called him three years ago. I'm glad he was out.

Another thing the movie reminded me about is how much I hate secret relationships. I've been in a few and they never ended well. Any time you have to keep a relationship secret, it's a sign that you probably shouldn't be in it. This includes work relationships, "his-mom-hates-you" relationships and of course cheating.

So there you go. I've started off the year with two pieces of good advice for you. Go see Match Point, and don't get into any secret relationships.

Posted by annika at 11:34 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack