arcana imperii :: the book of j


another dose of truth

just about a year ago, spinsanity, a leading watchdog of manipulative political rhetoric, published «Myths and misconceptions about Iraq,» a column written by bryan keefer, ben fritz and brendan nyhan. given how entrenched some of the misconceptions and outright lies regarding the alleged war on terror have become and the administration's constant attempts to rewrite the record, it's now more important then ever to refresh our memory before casting the votes which will hopefully rid our nation of its current extremist government and replace it with an administration worthy of its citizens and its place in the world.

the f-word and the destruction of someone's life

i was just reminded of mr mckee's enlightening line in the film adaptation: «every fucking day someone somewhere makes a conscious decision to destroy someone else...»

in the wake of the release of the hutton report, i remembered john plunkett's 23 september 2003 words in an article for the guardian: «in a key piece of evidence to the hutton inquiry yesterday, it was revealed that the outgoing Downing Street director of communications, alastair campbell, had written in his diary that he wanted to expose david kelly in order to "fuck andrew gilligan," the bbc reporter».

in an unprecedented move, three uk newspapers used the f-word in its unexpurgated form that day as editors gave the go-ahead for its use. david christopher kelly, microbiologist, born 17 1944; died 18 July 2003. andrew gilligan resigned today.

free press? liberal press? wake up!

last september i emailed friends, family and colleagues a link (via common dreams) to an article by USAToday's peter johnson about Christiane Amanpour's allegations that the press had «muzzled itself during the iraq war» and that «cnn had been intimidated by the bush administration and fox news, [establishing] a climate of fear and self-censorship».

i'd recommend reviewing these statements as we begin the political and electoral process to kick bush & co out of the nation's capital.

ignorant theists on the rampage again

cnn/ap reports today that georgia is considering banning evolution from the state's science curriculum. the state superindendent of schools, kathy cox, a republican elected to the post in 2002 stands firm behind the proposal. however cosmetic, the move is unacceptable, revisionist, theistic baloney. science and enlightenment must prevail.

to leave the education of america's children and young adults in the hands of the ignorant and prejudiced is most dangerous. in fact, it's unconscionable. it's criminal for parents to support it. i am glad that educators and legislators have already issued criticism of the proposed changes.

thx sw for the alert.


matt wells, bbc correspondent in atlanta has written about the polarisation of the coming election along a religious lines: «christian foot soldiers battle for bush».

we need the current unelected squatter at the white house evicted and all americans with integrity and intelligence should exercise their right and duty this coming november to unequivocally deliver the message. our founding brothers are undoubtedly turning in their graves as fundamentalist theists insist on hijacking america's political system with bush and his evangelical faith at the helm. enough is enough.

thx sw for the alert.



«a man's got to believe in something; i believe i'll have a drink». --WC Fields

the unparalleled mr fields, born 29 January 1880 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and deceased 25 December 1946 at Pasadena, California would have been 124 years old today.

«profanity, abundant violence and existential despair»

sean penn won the best performance by an actor in a motion picture - drama golden globe for his work in clint eastwood's mystic river. i have yet to see this film, and i can hardly wait. a o scott of the new york times has written that «mr penn, his eyes darting as if in anticipation of another blow, his shoulders tensed to return it, is almost beyond praise. jimmy markum is not only one of the best performances of the year, but also one of the definitive pieces of screen acting in the last half-century».

this can't be missed.

a little girl called osama


alone with her female child and facing stravation and the taleban's mandate that no woman may work or be outside the home without a legal male companion, a mother disguises her 12-year old daughter as a boy so that she may earn them an income. that is the true story told by osama, the film made in afghanistan shortly after the fall of the taleban and which won the golden globe for best foreign-language film sunday. the film used an amateur cast of actors drawn from the streets and refugee centres. the star, marina, was discovered as she begged on the streets. afghani filmmaker siddiq barmak, who wrote and dirtected osama and also runs the afghan film organisation and is director of the afghan children education movement, an association that promotes literacy, culture and the arts, is featured in an interview in today's edition of fresh air (npr).

"we were all wrong"

i imagine everyone has already heard about the testimony delivered yesterday to the senate's armed services committee by arms expert, former UN weapons inspector and top CIA adviser, david kay. in his own words: «it turns out we were all wrong».

remember kay's report from october 2003? i'd recommend a look at the close reading given the report at slate.

is there anyone still clinging to the fairy tale that saddam's iraq posed an imminent threat? certainly, and i find it rather frightening. they can be found all round us, but most troubling, just down the road at the white house and also up on the hill, you know a straight shot up those two single paralell avenues here in DC which symbolise and evoke the pillars of our democracy, independence and constitution.

kay joined npr's liane hansen sunday for an extended discussion.


run for your life!

i've just learned that my friend christopher gaida, currently residing in los angeles, will be running the 2004 mayor's midnight sun marathon in Alaska and has begun his participation in the national AIDS marathon training programme. christopher's 26,2-mile run will raise funds for AIDS project los angeles, one of the nation's largest AIDS service organisations.

chris has made a personal committment to raise at least US$4,000 for this most worthy cause and needs our support. contributions are tax-deductible and will make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS. please visit christopher's marathon page now, donate and spread the word!

remember the leak?

probably not until i just reminded you. for our media, hence for the average apple-pie eatin', baseball-lovin', and um, er, deity-fearin', red-blooded american this is old news, and perchance it wasn't even that big a deal to begin with (imagine if a democratic and elected preseident were in power, though). the spectator features a brilliant article by mark steyn under the headline bigger than watergate. according to mr steyn «the cia scandal is important not because it put an agent’s life at risk — it didn’t — but because it shows that US intelligence is either obstructive or inept». or currently, both, say i, given the new "system" instituted by the current administration.

insight: how emotion works

the third international conference on neuroesthetics: emotions in art and the brain took place earlier this month at the berkeley art museum. the conference showcased the progress in the study of what takes place in the brain when art is seen or made, in fact how emotions are evoked. blake gopnik explains the story neuroesthetics might tell some of us.

the final moments

next tuesday, free press, a division of simon & schuster will publish "Comm Check ... The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia," by michael cabbage and william harwood. newsday and the book authors offer a chilling sneak preview: columbia's final minutes: the second-by-second account of the shuttle's last minutes.

«the crew module fell intact for 38 seconds after main vehicle breakup, plunging 60,000 feet to an altitude of 26 miles before it began to disintegrate from the combined effects of aerodynamic stress and extreme temperatures... if any of the astronauts were still alive at that point, death would have been instantaneous, the result of blunt force trauma, including hypersonic wind blast, and lack of oxygen... the survivability study concluded relatively modest design changes might enable future crews to survive long enough to bail out. but Columbia's crew had no chance. the astronauts fell to earth amid a cloud of wreckage and debris.»

betty ann ong: remarkable witness aboard aa flight 011

the commission investigating the 11 september 2001 attacks issued a report yesterday providing what the washington post describes as the most comprehensive picture yet of the "common strategy" the terrorists used to commandeer the four airliners that were flown into the world trade centre towers, the pentagon and a pennsylvania field.

the new york times focuses on ms ong's description of the mayhem onboard: a calm voice as disaster unfolded in the sky.

chop! chop! the king! the king... is dead

some british monarchs have met rather strange deaths throughout history. for instance, edmund ironside is said to have been killed by two thrusts up the rectum from a sword-wielding enemy soldier who was hiding in the toilet pit below him. the loo seems indeed quite a dangerous place; george ii passed away in the toilet in 1760. when his servant heard troubled sounds emanating from the palace lavatory, he was not too worried, since the king had notorious bowel troubles and could make a lot of noise. however, on investigation it turned out that the king had collapsed with the strain of it all, and had smashed his head open on fittings as he slumped dead. more at the brilliant vitamin q.

trading the presidency

Presidential Market 2004 is an online game -- a simulated futures market -- sponsored by frontline® in which players buy and sell "shares" of the major 2004 presidential candidates. finish on election day with the highest valued portfolio and win a trip to the inauguration here in glorious washington, dc. the race is tight indeed!


le bordeaux, le bordelais and ze doggie bag

yesterday morning i read a new york times article by elaine sciolino titled: «garçon! the check, please and wrap up the bordelais!» i had a good laugh and began writing an email to the paper. i didn't return to it until now, too late indeed, since obviously someone else alerted them to the mistake. the headline now reads: «garçon! the check, please and wrap up the wine!» see, in french, bordelais is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to bordeaux, in france, or to the district around bordeaux, while in english it refers to a breed of cattle.

the french government has been cracking down on unsafe driving and as a result, the consumption of wine in restaurants and bars has dropped. enter the concept of taking leftovers home... the public's reaction to a doggie bag for their wine? "why? i don't have a dog! people with the leftovers of their bottle — this is truly provincial," said a police union representative. "we're not campers," said his lunch companion, a policeman. what's wrong with these people?!

please note that there's no such thing as a "sac de chien" either... there is "le sac à chien"-- a bag, purse or backpack used to carry a dog, not leftovers from a restaurant. the correct word would be emporte-restes or sac à restes. maybe i shall finish and send the email after all...

which one?! which one?!

having trouble deciding who's the best candidate for the us presidency or just which of the current contenders can really evict the current squatter from the white house? well, slate has set up an electability whack-a-pol to help one find the most "electable" democrat. i was rather suprised by the results...


attention readers!

last thursday weidenfeld & nicolson published The Bubble of American Supremacy by george soros. mr soros has written an edited extract for the guardian titled The US is Now in the Hands of a Group of Extremists. Fundamentalism has Spawned an Ideology of American Supremacy:

«the invasion of Iraq was the first practical application of the pernicious bush doctrine of pre-emptive military action, and it elicited an allergic reaction worldwide - not because anyone had a good word to say about saddam hussein, but because we insisted on invading Iraq unilaterally without any clear evidence that he had anything to do with September 11 or that he possessed weapons of mass destruction.»


words of the year, 2003

earlier this month, the American Dialect Society published a list of words which most coloured the country's lexicon or otherwise dominated national discourse. my favourites are: arse/ass-hat (category: most usefeul. noun, a thoughtless or stupid person); collyer (noun, in New York City, a person trapped under their own collected debris in their apartment); freegan (winner, most-uselful category. noun, person who eats only what they can get for free) and of course, weapons of mass deception (plural noun, the hunt for weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for war).


calrity and perspective

with the headline globe, too hot; times, too cold - roll call gets the stolen democrat files scandal just right, jack shafer at slate, brings some rather balanced insight into this sordid affair. i still insist that had it been democratic staffers found "behaving unethically," we'd be reading a very different story right now.

03 february 04: another perspective: cyber snoop: somebody infiltrated democratic electronic correspondence -- and let the world know about it. now the case could turn into a full-blown watergate.com.

the difference...

i just learned that republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee had broken into the computer files of Democrats over a year-long period. they accessed strategic memos to help them push bush's right-wing extremist judicial nominees, the contents of which have appeared in the editorial pages of the wall street journal and the washington times. the dnc requests we take action now by signing a petition demanding the culprits take responsibility for their ethical breach. is that all it is? so no laws are broken when spying and breaking into computers and then using the stolen information for political gain? again one asks, what if the spies had been democratic staffers accessing republican memos? do you think republicans would just be asking you to sign a petition? this "ethical breach" would become a gargantuan scandal and media circus culminating in resignations, sackings, recalls and impeachments... couldn't someone express at least some bloody indignation? pathetic...

this breaking and entering and spying business brings a little affair to mind... what was it? ah yes... watergate!


too good and yet true!

the michigan lawsuit abuse watch strives to show how the fear of frivolous lawsuits leads to the loss of corporate common sense. the group sponsors the annual Wacky Warning Label Contest. this year's winner: a warning on a bottle of drain cleaner: «if you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product.» hahaha!

via sean w

spies, lies, and weapons

kenneth m pollack, leading Iraq expert and intelligence analyst in the Clinton administration—whose book The Threatening Storm proved deeply influential in the run-up to the war (making a case for attack and invasion)—gives a detailed account of how and why we erred in our estimates of saddam hussein's weapons programmes... an attempt at correcting the record perhaps? certainly one to excuse his misguided recommendations.

mr pollack begins by asserting that america and much of the rest of the world expected the WMDs discovered upon the fall of the regime. absolute rubbish! i didn't, the UN and their inspectors didn't, millions round the world didn't. as a matter of fact, i don't believe bush & co did either. there was never enough evidence. the president knew it because the cia knew it and so did the pentagon. so the issue is not that the intelligence was inaccurate, but why. and then whether it was known that it was or could be faulty and that it was still used to justify intentions and actions.

yeah, but does it do windows?

have you heard about the NS-5, the world's first fully automated domestic assistant, positronic brain and all? it also features onboard multi-energy capture, refinement and pulmonary system and is to be considerate, intuitive and fun.

sci-fi? certainly! based on isaac asimov's brilliant book of the same name, I, robot is currently in post-production and should hit theatres 16 july. the plot? well, in the year 2035 a techno-phobic chicago detective investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which would mean the until-then-deemed-impossible had happened: the laws of robotics* were violated.

*in order to cope with the potential for robots to harm people, isaac asimov in conjunction with science fiction author and editor john w campbell, formulated the laws of robotics. he subjected all of his fictional robots to these laws by having them incorporated within the architecture of their "platinum-iridium positronic brains". the laws first appeared publicly in asimov's fourth robot short story, runaround.

the 1940 laws of robotics:
first law: a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
second law: a robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
third law: a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

thank you bicaboc.

anniversary: row v. wade

liberty, logic & abortion: mark goldblatt analyses the moral and legal arguments on both sides of America's most divisive issue.

mind the gap!

trail, britain's most popular hiking publication, printed a "safe descent" route that would actually take mountaineers directly over the edge of ben nevis' north face and to almost certain death. can you just imagine?!

"i have three bombs in here" x 3

threats to aviation safety and security are serious indeed. making false statements to the authorities must be penalised if they are to be discouraged. a stupid girl from shropshire now stands to learn how the law will deal with her intentions and poor judgement. i just hope the miami courts serve justice yet refrain from ruining this idiot's life-- she faces a maximum sentence of fifteen years in prison.


saturday night, john waters said he's worried that we're not doing enough to encourage reading. the remedy? "if you go home with someone from a bar and you see that they don't have any books in their apartment, don't fuck them."

via blah, blah, black sheep


requiem for an industry

what a sad indictment on contemporary man. the death of the classical music industry is imminent and i just learned it's inevitable. i own an exhaustive collection of the very best recordings in the genre and in the last few years have only bought very specific, hand-picked albums. norman lebrecht tells us what's happened. we'll have to then figure out why and compare it to the rest of the recording industry. rather timely matter for discussion given the latest reprehensible and unacceptable actions undertaken by its trade association.

the day after

in case you did play the SOU drinking game 2004 and are barely alive today... in case you are a, dare we write it, b*sh sympathiser (i dispair of you and blame you for much)... in case you're wondering if you are not alone in thinking that the real state of the union is much different than the one you saw/heard painted last night, here's some thoughts to consider...

democratic response speech.
bush leaves no bride behind.
'go-it-alone' bush.
the atlantic's essays on the state of the union (economy, society and governance).
state of the union 2004 myth and reality.


al pan, pan y al vino, vino

# = crosshatch

bit o' philosophy

«why should i have to WORK for everything?! it's like saying i don't deserve it!»
~calvin and hobbes, there's treasure everywhere, p 142-1

«i must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.»
~calvin and hobbes, there's treasure everywhere, p 169-1 & the calvin and hobbes tenth anniversary book, p 196-2

the real story

dubya will be delivering his account of the state of the union later this evening... ugh... so let's have a look at the truth before we subject ourselves to pure, unadulterated spin and perhaps a lie or two...

george w bush and the real state of the union.

make certain you download the state of the union scorecard and log in your results afterwards.

rabbi invents prayer for porn-surfing jews

an israeli rabbi has invented a prayer to help jews overcome the guilt of visiting pornographic websites.

the benediction by shlomo eliahu says: "please god, help me cleanse the computer of viruses and evil photographs which disturb and ruin my work..., so that I shall be able to cleanse myself (of sin)."

mr eliahu said he had seen a marked increase in the number of men who had come to him to confess their internet sins.

the callers said they were worried that the time they were spending surfing for porn was ruining their family lives, the daily yedioth ahronoth reports.

the rabbi recommends that Jews recite the prayer when they log on, or even programme it to flash up on their computer screens so they are spiritually covered whether they enter a dodgy site intentionally or by mistake.

via ananova.

i wonder how long it'll take microsoft to adopt a similar tech support strategy...

the silent heavens

jesus is no longer to answer prayers...


mlk: in memoriam

[...] i say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, i still have a dream. it is a dream deeply rooted in the american dream.

i have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." i have a dream that one day on the red hills of georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. i have a dream that one day even the state of mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. i have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. i have a dream today.

i have a dream that one day the state of alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers [...]

so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of new hampshire. let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of new york. let freedom ring from the heightening alleghenies of pennsylvania! let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of colorado! let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of california! but not only that; let freedom ring from stone mountain of georgia! let freedom ring from lookout mountain of tennessee! let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of mississippi. from every mountainside, let freedom ring.

when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of god's children, black men and white men, jews and gentiles, protestants and catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "free at last! free at last! thank god almighty, we are free at last!"

delivered 28 august 1963 on the steps at the lincoln memorial in washington, dc. source: martin luther king, jr: the peaceful warrior, pocket books, ny 1968


"villains" of the week

the scotsman has so named the «faceless whitehall officials» who denied a russian girl a visa to study english in Scotland - because she wouldn't be able to understand the Scots accent.

in awarding the dubious honour, the paper, of course - much like john swinney, leader of the snp* - wilfully ignored the sensible reasons given, which were: she had made no attempt to learn english in russia; had no way of supporting herself financially when she got to Scotland; and the course did not meet the standards for a student visa anyway. and why not ignore the facts? none of that matters! the fantasy outrage version is far better: "who the bloody hell do these unaccountable london penpushers think they are? try learning English in newcastle, liverpool, sheffield, birmingham - or any other filthy ex-industrial northern english cesspool for that matter - and see how much you understand."

they also pointed out that obviously, anyone wishing to learn english in Scotland will be faced with plenty of reputable institutions offering courses - all approved by the british council - in Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow or Aberdeen. and if they choose to do so, they may end up with an accent that is good for business - or just good in bed.

*scottish national parliament

fancy a hot toddy?

it's mighty cold already and we're still expecting wind chill temperatures to reach -25°C and snow over the weekend (that's brilliant! i love winter). but the story further north and east is a bit different. maine has declared a state of emergency. tim markle, meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory in new hampshire, 1917m/6288 ft above sea level -- the highest point in new england, reported temperatures of -37°C/-35°F and -63°C/-82°F with the wind chill earlier today... and that's not even a record! npr's melissa block had a great chat to tim this afternoon. you can listen to it here.

election 2004: hot-button campaign issues

america, or at least half of its eligible voters, is getting ready to elect a president for the first time since 1994. some, and hopefully not most and where it counts, will be making the same enormous and unforgivable mistake they made in 1998. yet perchance reason and truth will shine forth and the right choice will be made. here's a look at some key concerns...

got time for a dose of truth?

arianna huffington hadn't published her usually brilliant column for six months, no doubt on account of the imminent publication of her new book, Fanatics and Fools... Why George Bush Must Lose So The American Public Can Win. well, she's back and her second column of the year is nothing short of essential reading.


who knew?!

here's the real reason for beagle's silence and the immediate arrival of the spirit mars rover... no wonder! simply brilliant! hahaha.

thank you dthprod!

fyi: the best of british blogging

please have a look at the guardian's special report on weblogs and the winners of their british blog awards 2003. the article features extensive links and descriptions where i promise you'll find much inspiration, information and enjoyment.

the surreal presidency

in a year not even two weeks old and in which a «revered» role-model such as britney spears demonstrates how highly some heterosexualists really value the "sanctity of marriage," appointed prez bush announces, not only that since he can't find WMDs in iraq, he'll look for them on the moon, but that he'll spend $1,5 billion promoting marriage.


unmasking today's many false assumptions

i've lost fran leibowitz's reply to vanity fair's Proust Questionnaire. i can't find the original magazine nor the photocopy i had made of the page. and for the second time ever, the internet did not yield the requested information.

however, the google results did yield an article on the propensity of most to swallow and believe all sorts of information unexamined. critical thinking is not only of utmost importance to me, it's a way of life.