arcana imperii :: the book of j


cien años de soledad

i was extremely pleased to learn that oprah's current pick for her book club was one of the masterpieces of world literature: cien años de soledad (one hundred years of solitude) by gabriel garcía márquez, winner of the 1982 nobel prize in literature. amrican novelist william kennedy wrote that this work is «the first piece of literature since the book of genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race. it takes up not long after genesis left off and carries through to the air age, reporting on everything that happened in between with more lucidity, wit, wisdom, and poetry that is expected from 100 years of novelists, let alone one man...mr garcía márquez has done nothing less than to create in the reader a sense of all that is profound, meaningful, and meaningless in life.»

non-fluent readers of spanish should only read edith grossman's translation and indeed count their blessings for hers is a masterpiece in its own right.

you may be interested in reading robert kiely's, real magic (the new york times) and edith grossman's on translation and garcía márquez, a speech delivered at the 2003 PEN tribute to gabriel garcía márquez, held in new york city, 05 november 2003.

note: jonathan bate once wrote in the sunday telegraph that one hundred years of solitude was unreadable trash for "urban intellectuals who feign reverence for the simple wisdom of peasants".

«things have a life of their own... it’s simply a matter of waking up their souls.» «and then they understood that josé arcadia buendía was not as crazy as the family said, but that he was the only one who had enough lucidity to sense the truth of the fact that time also stumbled and had accidents and could therefore splinter and leave an eternalized fragment in a room.» © gabriel garcía márquez, one hundred years of solitude


i am «to kill a mockingbird»

To Kill a Mockingbird
«perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, i have changed the minds of many. while questioning the authority around me, i've also taken a significant amount of flack. but i've had the admirable guts to persevere. there's a weird guy in the neighbourhood using dubious means to protect me, but i'm pretty sure it's worth it in the end. in the end, it remains unclear to me whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.»

take the book quiz at blue pyramid and find out "which book you are."

«voting is for old people»

shame on urban outfitters for their $28.00 "ironic" tee voting is for old people. let's be honest, understanding irony and sarcasm is not the forte of our glorious nation and while i know you get it and i know i get, i'm worried about the voting-age kids who don't. and while some might argue that well, if they don't "get it" they shouldn't be voting anyway, i say that as long as they don't vote for dubya nor nader (sorry mate, not your turn this time round) they need all the clear, direct encouragement one could muster to get out and rock the vote! so, how 'bout a tee promoting punkvoter instead?


via blah, blah, blacksheep.


shame on (some of) you!

tell me or show me how biased you are and i shall tell you who and what you are. and i will despair of you and feel sorry for you and be intolerant of your ignorance and prejudice, yet try to teach you a thing or two.

a statewide field poll released wednesday found that about half of those surveyed disapproved of same-sex marriages, while 44 percent approved. the poll of nearly 1000 registered voters was conducted late last week.

the poll found that voters who identified themselves as male, conservative, republican, over 50, with less than a college degree, protestant, catholic, black or native latin-american/latin-american origin were all more likely to oppose same-sex marriages. [surprise, surprise...]

according to the poll, liberals, democrats, non-partisans, younger voters, those who had completed postgraduate work, followers of other religions or who had no religious preference, and asians [all in all the more enlightened people in our society] were more likely to favour gay marriages, while women, ideological moderates, whites and college graduates were evenly split. [groups which have never been able to quite make up their minds, right? i mean, wrong! hahaha].

but the poll also showed that opposition to amending the federal constitution was broad, crossing age, ideological, ethnic, geographic and religious lines.

and naturally, the strongest support for an amendment came from republicans and conservatives.

while nearly sixty percent of adults who were asked in 1977 opposed gay marriages, now only fifty percent of voters do. some speculate that what's happened is that people have become more tolerant and more accepting of alternative lifestyles on all fronts.

and in case you missed it, go have a read of bill maher's valentine day comments...

the "likudniks" and the neocons

the march/april 2004 issue of adbusters magazine contains a brilliant article, titled why won't anyone say they are jewish? in which serious questions such as whether the jewishness of the neocons influence american foreign policy in the middle east or whether it's all just more anti-semitism (not!) are asked.

the article also reminds us that dubya is forced to utter some worthwhile statements every now and again, such as when he said that «israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the building of walls and fences».

have a read; it's brilliant!

rosie o'donnell weds longtime girlfriend

rosie o'donnell has married her longtime girlfriend in san francisco, california.

«we, too, have a dream of equality for all families,» the comedian had said in a statement. «the only way changes are made in society is when people like mayor gavin newsom have the courage to stand up against injustice.»

«i think the actions of the president are, in my opinion, the most vile and hateful words ever spoken by a sitting president,» o'donnell said on abc's good morning america. «i am stunned and i'm horrified.»

«i find [the constitutional] amendment [to ban same-gender marriages] very, very, very, very shocking. and immoral. and, you know, if civil disobedience is the way to go about change, then i think a lot of people will be going to san francisco. and i hope they put more people on the steps to marry as many people as show up. and i hope everyone shows up.»

give it up dubya et.al. just shut up and start packing your bags...

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

spare me!

ananova reports today that american academy award-winning actress halle berry believes in ghosts! she told a german magazine that she believes the dead come back to haunt the living. what's next? that she beleives in a supreme deity and worships it say, on sundays?! hahaha... or wait, what about the tooth fairy and father christmas? baloney! extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and this woman, naturally, has none.

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god save the queen

the Prince of Wales witnessed sixteen immigrants take part in the first british citizenship ceremony, which took place today in london. about 90,000 adult applicants are successful each year in their bid to become british.

25 february 2004: welcoming the new britons
31 january 2004: uk 'citizenship test' unveiledwhat is britishness anyway?
25 july 2003: tea and cakes for the new Britons
10 september 2002: blunkett names 'britishness' chief
26 october 2001: immigrants 'to take citizen classes'

*the british coat of arms show in four quadrants the arms of england, three golden lions on red background in the upper left and lower right quadrant, scotland, a red walking lion on golden background in the upper right quadrant, and ireland, a golden harp on blue background in the lower left quadrant. the shield is surrounded by a lion on the left side, a unicorn on the right side and a tournament helmet on top of the shield. tthe arms exist since the separation of the thrones of hanover and britain in 1837.

over my dead body... if i can help it!

it seems the former chief justice of the alabama supreme court wants his job back. zealot roy moore says when he was sworn in he pledged to uphold the constitution and to acknowledge god. he explained that's why he refused to move his his 5,300-pound ten commandments monument from the state courthouse rotunda. he is pleading his case to a stand-in court which is to decide if moore's explusion by the state court of the judiciary should be upheld or overturned. a decision is expected as early as tomorrow. the man's fate should be never to don judicial robes again, period. a man who doesn't even understand the constitition of his own country, refuses to understand and uphold the separation of church and state, believes he must worship a non-existent deity and promote it with the weight of the law should not only be banned from ever setting foot in a courtroom as an officer of said court, but also banished to mars as soon as it is at all possible.

ashcroft, the most dangerous fanatic

february's issue of vanity fair contains the most amazing and scariest article on john ashcroft and i must beg you to to read it asap. please send a kink to every adult in your email address book. i can't stress this enough. while it may seem as long as methuselah's beard or rapunzel's hair and your next thought might be "oh, how very interesting... shame i've no time" you owe it to yourself to know this. you won't regret it... don't make me come after you, mate!


the new york times endorses kerry

the new york times has endorsed john kerry in the democratic presidential primary, saying the massachusetts senator "exudes maturity and depth."

the newspaper said kerry does not easily fit the mold of a "typical massachusetts liberal" and that his positions "come from mainstream american thought, centrism of the old school."

the newspaper also cited kerry's strong record on the environment and concerns about budget deficits, as well as his campaign's comeback after an early fall.

regarding observations that kerry might be charm-impaired the times noted that kerry has "warmed up a good deal since the campaign began." "in the television era, likablility is extremely important," the paper said. "but this is a serious business, and mr kerry, the more experienced and knowledgable candidate, gets our endorsement."

democrats in ten states, including new york, vote in the 02 March Super Tuesday primary.


royal assent: cheers!

the beeb reports this morning that prince charles has launched a guide, called how to save your local pub, part of an initiative called the pub is the hub, to help rural pubs survive. part of the idea is that they can be pubs yet also local club meeting points, outlets for local goods, pharmacy collection points, creches, art and crafts galleries, dry cleaning points, cash points and even feature hairdressers. clever...

arguments end in the case against israel's wall of shame

«for a tribunal more accustomed to solving boundary disputes between niger and benin, or determining whether pedra branca and pulau batu puteh belong to malaysia or singapore, yesterday's hearing was extraordinary.»

question: if israel decides it should literally build a wall to protect itself from terrorist attacks (which to some are just necessary acts of war), instead of ending its occupation of palestine, why doesn't it build it in its own territory?


opinion: separating church and state

«the supreme court ruled wisely yesterday... for a court that has allowed a weakening of separation between church and state, this was a significant clarification... unfortunately, the court did not retreat from its regrettable 2002 decision upholding a cleveland voucher program that provides for heavy participation by parochial schools. nonetheless, the new decision affirms that states still have significant room to decline to finance religion.»


consitutional bias must be scorned

putting bias in the constitution: «bush's proposed amendment to keep same-gender couples from marrying would be the first adopted to stigmatise and exclude a group of americans... it would inject meanspiritedness and exclusion into the document embodying our highest principles and aspirations.»

victory: supreme court bars public aid for religious study

today the US supreme court drew a new line separating church and state, ruling that when states provide assistance for college students they are not obligated to fund scholarships for those majoring in theology and divinity training. this is a major defeat for "religious rights" advocates and for the bush administration as well as a significant victory for brights. free exercise of religion does not mean that those studying for the ministry are entitled to public assistance. the decision has positive and profound implications for the future of public education in america (this decision was also really about school vouchers, which i vehemently oppose if allowed to subsidise education in parochial schools. fortunately thirty-seven states already have constitutional provisions banning just that).

while today's ruling is limited to training the clergy, dissenting judge scalia asked if the next one will be to deny priests and nuns their prescription drugs benefits on the grounds that taxpayers should not subsidise medicating the clergy. my answer is why not? along with a call of for the abolition of any and all religion-based tax benefits/subsidies/incentives.

listen to the brilliant report of npr's nina totenberg.

here are excerpts from the ruling on religious scholarships and the full text.

«how the democrats got their groove back»

well, it seems america is waking up, getting its groove back, or at least a rather as-of-late spineless, long-dormant red-blooded segment of it and it couldn't happen at a better time, given than in just over eight months they along with every progressive in this land must vote to evict the current white house tenants.

«democrats are madder than a pack of howling pit bulls and they're hungry. they smell blood right now - and their fury seems to become them. no longer do they sound like an irritating band of politically correct special interests. they are starting to sound like a gang of competitive politicians...»


lent 2004

friend: «so, j, what are you giving up for lent?»
j: «me? this year? women and heroin. and how about you?»


attention shoppers: p2p file-sharing software fraud

it seems there are still a lot of people being tricked into buying susbcriptions for exceptional file-sharing programmes such as kazaalite and kazaalite k++. such subscriptions DO NOT EXIST. there are no file-sharing programmes that require subscriptions yet there are a number of fraudulent websites that try to make you believe otherwise and succeed as you hand over your cash. best thing to do is contact your credit card company and/or bank to cancel any payments made or authorised to the fraudulent sites/companies and to do some research about the software in which you are interested.

never EVER, pay for a p2p file-sharing programme nor use one featuring spy-ware, adware pop-ups or banners or installs anything without your approval.. if you have it in your system, i'd recommend you uninstall kazaa immediately, use ad-aware, spybot and spyblaster to clean up your system (if you rely solely on your anti-virus, which is probably not up to date, i despair of you) then go here and download version 2.43 (the latest official and stable release; view the faq). if you didn't know, kazaa lite is a free and clean version of kazaa media desktop (ugh). it contains absolutely no spyware, adware or other unwanted software. the new k++ edition even adds some cool extra functionality to the program: unlimited searches, better multi-source downloading, constantly the highest participation level, a custom start-up page, improved performance and much more. kazaa lite installer comes with a couple of very useful tools that will make your life much easier. and naturally, the installation of these tools is optional. kazaa lite gives you access to millions of files and the k-lite codec pack for playing back all common movie formats.

kazaa media desktop or kmd or plain ol' kazaa is what you do not want. kazaa lite / kazaa lite k++ are the clean versions, the latest of which is called clean kazaa. note that there are a variety of release candidates around, the latest of which i understand is KaZaA Lite K++ RC15. BUT: apparently eMule v0.30e v0.42f (open source client; connects to the eDonkey network and numerous servers) is the best file-sharing programme available presently. i will share my experiences and impressions once i've tested it. well, eMule seems to rock and rule... while the software may at first appear so complicated to use, this is really not at all the case. the software installs flawlessly, it is stable even on win98, the configuration wizard is comprehensive and exhaustive, and "everything" seems to be available and downloadable sooner or later. no prob if a download takes a bit to complete... it's most important to find what's desired in the first place! do give it a go and enjoy!

note: the recommended files are not hosted on this website.


goddess cecilia bartoli sang and again triumphed

soprano cecilia bartoli, a goddess, proved once again the she reigns supreme in her field and niche. her concert here in dc yesterday afternoon was nothing short of spectacular and sublime... tim page wrote in the washington post he didn't think he'd heard singing of such sheer beauty, spun out with such tonal opulence and easy command, since montserrat caballé was in her prime, to which cecilia adds keen dramatic intelligence, scrupulous musicianship and all the sunshine of an italian summer...

quotation of the week

«an "unemployed" existence is a worse negation of life than death itself.»
~josé ortega y gasset



go figure...

what do they think most men do with their hands when weeing?

via e11. thx indeed!

the neo-conservative coup and hijacking of the pentagon

marc cooper has written a most interesting piece for the la weekly, soldier for the truth: exposing bush's talking-points war in which he discusses lieutenant colonel karen kwiatkowski's battle for truth at the US department of defence.

«though a lifelong conservative, kwiatkowski found herself appalled as the radical wing of the bush administration, including her superiors in the pentagon planning department, bulldozed internal dissent, overlooked its own intelligence and relentlessly pushed for confrontation with iraq.»


fake photo is indeed a new low in sleaze and dirty campaigning

note that the fake photograph did make its rounds from conservative website to website as ammunition against presidential candidate kerry. to find this kind of immaturity within the american electorate distress me. association with "hanoi" jane is apparently shameful and negative; considered enough to ruin a candidate. worse is that even people who weren't alive during the vietnam conflict and probably haven't even seen a jane fonda film, an exercise video, much less know anything about her political views then or now are some of those accepting the "concept" as badge of dishonour and giving it wings.

lies, damned lies and photography: «everyone knows the saying that the camera never lies. what is less well-known is that the man who coined the phrase almost a century ago, the great american documentary photographer lewis hine, added a rider: "while photographs may not lie, liars may photograph".»

cambodian king backs gay marriage

king sihanouk

the 81-year-old monarch, His Majesty King NORODOM SIHANOUK VARMAN of Cambodia, after watching television images of same-gender marriages in san francisco, has decided that single sex weddings should be allowed in cambodia too.


«contract sport / q & a: the vice-president and the contractor / fresh air»

vice-president cheney has been an architect and a beneficiary of the increasingly close relationship between the defence department and an élite group of private military contractors. he declines to discuss halliburton and his role in helping the company through the years; he won't even mention his tenure there on his website. all this only fuels the debate on whether he has more power than the president and makes halliburton a campaign issue as shorthand for cronyism and for a host of doubts about conflicts of interest, undue corporate influence, and hidden motives behind bush administration policy —-in particular, its reasons for going to war in iraq. documents exist and have been seen by reporters. others remain secret yet the supreme court will hear a case requesting their divulgement even though justice scalia refuses to recuse himslef when it's clear that he should.

in «contract sport,» in this week's issue of the new yorker, jane mayer reports on how halliburton, the world's largest oil-and-gas-services company where dick cheney served as ceo for five years before ascending to the vice-presidency of the nation, became the single largest private defence contractor in iraq. consider this OBLIGATORY reading!

here, with the new yorker's amy davidson, mayer talks about cheney's past, the privatisation of the military, and washington, dc's revolving door.

jane meyer also had a chat to fresh air's terry gross on npr earlier today. you should indeed have a listen to the interview which you may find on the current show or archived shows section depending on whether you visit the site today or anytime hereafter. consider this REQUIRED listening!

«person of the year: february nominee»

arcana imperii's february nominee for «person of the year» is gavin newsom, 42nd mayor of the city and county of san francisco, for his integrity, his courage, his vision and for wearing the enmity of conservative critics as a «code of distinction».

mr newsom: «i know my role... i also know that i've got an obligation that i took seriously to defend the constitution. there is simply no provision that allows me to discriminate.»

bush's impossible job forecast

the white house found itself in the awkward position yesterday of backing away from its earlier prediction that the economy would add 2,6 million new jobs this year...


mysteries revealed!

for the first time, the violent death throes of a star being partially swallowed by a black hole has been obseved, supporting a long-held theory of how black holes capture unsuspecting stars that wander into their neighbourhood.

«...the chances of this happening, however, are considered very rare -- about once every 10,000 years in a typical galaxy...» «"this is really fantastic stuff," says university of california astronomer alex filippenko. "this is one of the holy grails of astronomy."»

much more interesting than anything you heard in chruch on sunday... and true!


preeminent scientists protest bush administration's misuse of science

«preeminent scientists protest the bush administration's misuse of science by distortion and censorship of scientific findings that contradict its policies. nobel laureates, national medal of science recipients, and other leading researchers call for end to scientific abuses.»

analysis: scientific integrity in policymaking: an investigation into the bush administration's misuse of science

you may also wish to listen to npr's report on all things considered audio: scientists accuse white house of distortion.



madama butterfly turns a cool 100

the tragedy of madama butterfly - a young girl seduced, betrayed by her lover and ultimately let down by the western notion of romantic love still resonates, one hundred years to the day since she made her first inauspicious entrance on to the world stage.


the interpreter's tale

after eight years as interpreter and translator for saddam hussein, esho joseph fled his country. despite his status, he had been marked for execution. esho and his wife defected to jordan and eventually to the united states. for 12 years, he waited for the chance to return as a free man to iraq. npr's jacki lyden who accompanied him on the trip home, tells the story in a most splendid piece of journalism.

note (and pet-peeve alert): interpreters, consecutively or simultaneously, interpret foreign speech orally. a translator, translates the written word. please learn the difference and stop confusing the terms once and for all. call a spade a spade...

quotation of the week

«none climbs so high as he who knows not whither he is going.»
~oliver cromwell

via askoxford.com.



«valentine's day, that great state holiday» by bill maher

new rule: you can't claim you're the party of smaller government, and then clamour to make laws about love. if there's one area i don't want the US government to add to its list of screw-ups, it's love.

on the occasion of this valentine's day, let's stop and ask ourselves: what business is it of the state how consenting adults choose to pair off, share expenses, and eventually stop having sex with each other?

and why does the bush administration want a constitutional amendment about weddings? hey, birthdays are important, too -- why not include them in the great document? let's make a law that gay people can have birthdays, but straight people get more cake -- you know, to send the right message to kids.

republicans are always saying we should privatise things, like schools, prison, social security -- ok, so how about we privatise privacy? if the government forbids gay men from tying the knot, what's their alternative? they can't all marry liza minnelli.

republicans used to be the party that opposed social engineering, but now they push programmes to outlaw marriage for some people, and encourage it for others. if you're straight, there's a billion-five in the budget to encourage and promote marriage -- including seed money to pay an old jewish woman to call up people at random and say 'so why aren't you married, mr big shot?'

but when it comes to homosexuals, republicans sing 'i love you just the way you oughta be.' they oppose gay marriage because it threatens or mocks -- or does something -- to the "sanctity of marriage," as if anything you can do drunk out of your mind in front of an elvis impersonator in las vegas could be considered sacred. half the people who pledge eternal love are doing it because one of them is either knocked-up, rich or desperate, but in george bush's mind, marriage is only a beautiful lifetime bond of love and sharing -- kind of like what his dad has with the saudis.

but at least the right wing aren't hypocrites on this issue -- they really believe that homosexuality, because it says so in the bible, is an "abomination" and a "dysfunction" that's "curable": they believe that if a gay man just devotes his life to jesus, he'll stop being gay -- because the theory worked out so well with the catholic priests.

but the greater shame in this story goes to the democrats, because they don't believe homosexuality is an "abomination," and therefore their refusal to endorse gay marriage is hypocrisy. the right are true believers, but the democrats are merely pretending that they believe gays are not entitled to the same state-sanctioned misery as the rest of us. the democrats' position doesn't come from the bible, it's ripped right from the latest poll, which says that most americans are against gay marriage.

well, you know what: sometimes "most americans" are wrong. where's the democrat who will stand up and go beyond the half measures of "civil union" and "hate the sin, love the sinner," and say loud and clear: "there IS no sin, and homosexuality is NOT an abomination" -- although that boy george musical rosie o'donnell put on comes close. the only thing abominable about being gay is the amount of time you have to put in at the gym.

but that aside, the law in this country should reflect that some people are just born 100 percent outrageously, fabulously, undeniably fire island gay, and that they don't need re-programming. they need a man with a slow hand.

happy valentine's day everybody!

14 february 2004. bill Maher is host of "real time with bill maher." © copyright 2004 globe newspaper company.
find the original page here. thx sw

jane fonda, chhristine lahti and sally field among celebrities protesting killings in mexico

over three hundred women have been killed just over the border from el paso, texas... did you know about this? this horror has been taking place for a decade and i just learned about it. it shows how celebrities can at least attract attention to issues by lending their name and presence to a cause.

have a look at the story: «activists have been keeping track of violence in ciudad juarez, where officials have now documented more than 300 murders in the past 10 years. few of the cases have been solved and the murders are continuing.
some of the murders are the result of domestic violence. others are believed to be the work of serial killers, drug gangs and even a small group of well-connected prominent local men who may have killed for sport

bush's goal was to dodge the war

according to jimmy breslin's article at newsday today: «what matters to all our senses is that he is a president who struts around as a war hero, who dodged vietnam and most of the national guard drills and who with less shame than anybody we have had maybe ever, sends your kids to a war that he ducked as if he was allowed to do it by birth.

the picture of him playing soldier suit on an aircraft carrier, the helmet under his arm like he just got back from a run over baghdad, marks him as exceedingly dangerous. He believes he is a warrior president. he is not. he is a war dodger. therefore, it is preposterous for george bush to be a commander of anything. he doesn't have the right to send people to war and yet he orders them off, and almost cheerfully.»

kerry / edwards support

it seems that many of john kerry's supporters vote with their heads while many of john edwards' supporters do so with their hearts. the associated press reports that the leading democratic presidential candidates personally are indeed popular with voters, as polls suggest, yet their differing styles and backgrounds attract voters with contrasting priorities.


if the 2004 presidential election were being held today, would you vote for george w bush, the republican, or for john kerry, the democrat?

bush 43%
kerry 51%
(VOL) Other 1%
(VOL) Neither 3%
(VOL) Would not vote 1%
DK/No opinion 1%

source: a washington post-abc news poll conducted by telephone 10-11 February 2004, among 1,003 randomly selected adults nationwide. margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points. fieldwork by tns Iitersearch of horsham, pa.

kerry wins dc democratic caucus

after winning the non-binding washington, dc primary last month, howard dean finished third in yesterday's democratic caucus. kerry garnered almost half of the capital's votes while adding nine delegates to his already sizable lead.* he didn't participate in the 13 january primary, which allowed dean to win a (symbolic) victory, his only one in the campaign to date. senator kerry received 4,278 votes (47%), followed by the al sharpton, 1,824 votes (20%) and howard dean with 1,596 votes (17%).

9,126 ballots were cast... there's 260,000 eligible voters in the district of which i believe 257,000 are registered democrats...

this time it's kerry.

*a candidate needs 2,162 delegates to win the nomination. kerry currently has 567, dean 187 and edwards 166.


happy valentine's day

natural history

the spider, dropping down from twig,
unwinds a thread of his devising:
a thin, premeditated rig
to use in rising.

and all the journey down through space,
in cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
he builds a ladder to the place
from which he started.

thus I, gone forth as spiders do,
in spider's web a true discerning,
attach one silken strand to you
for my returning.
-- e.b. white


required reading

all the president's lies, a selection of articles from the american prospect was updated today. you owe it to yourself and to your nation to be informed. enjoy!

wake-up time for the media whores

most americans, in child-like naïveté and brain-washed stupor believe their media to be liberal and biased. it's simply not true... quite the contrary. to make matters worse, since the yellow-press-like coverage of the lewinsky affair and the attempted coup d'état by reactionaries, the american mainstream press has even forgotten how to practice its trade. the coverage of the balkan war was frightening and since 2000 we've been in the twilight zone: journalists and their outfits were simply not fact-checking the current administration.

yet there were signs of hope this week. eric alterman and michael tomasky provide some analysis and five suggestions for how the fourth estate can stop the charade.

and more: honeymoon over - bush has gotten friendly press up until now. these days, things have changed.

a most brilliant victory

france's lower house of parliament voted tuesday this week, 494-36, to ban students from wearing islamic head scarves and other religious apparel in public schools thus outlawing conspicuous religious clothing and symbols in classrooms. it goes to the senate, in march, where little opposition is expected. the measure would take effect in september.

i delight in this triumph for secularism and reason, which indeed requires some explanation, especially for americans. the harvard crimson has published an op-ed which helps greatly in this regard.

friday's hearty laugh

«GloFish, zebrafish genetically engineered to glow under uv lamps like tiny stoner hendrix posters, are now being sold as pets, but it seems people aren't buying them. well, no shit...» read on! hahaha!

bush (DIS)approval ratings

50 percent approve (i despair of you, america!), down 8 points from january 2004; 52 percent believe he is «honest and trustworthy,» down from 71 percent in 2002 (the gullibility baffles me! WAKE UP, AMERICA!); 54 percent believe he exaggerated or lied about pre-war intelligence; kerry beats bush 52-43...

finally! - «a majority of americans believe bush either lied or deliberately exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in order to justify war, according to a new washington post-abc news poll. the survey results, which also show declining support for the war in iraq and for bush's leadership in general, indicate the public is increasingly questioning the president's truthfulness.»

via wonkette.

«the power of christ compels you!»

father gabriel amorth, the vatican's chief expert on exorcisms, said: «with cases of demon behaviour it is normal for domestic appliances to be involved and for demons to make their presence known via electricity» in the case of the italian villagers who've called for an exorcist to end demon fires.

i despair of humanity sometimes... it's a serious matter. remember the english nanny's «witch» ordeal?

«the friday five»

1. are you superstitious?
    absolutely not.

2. what extremes have you heard of someone going to in the name of superstition?
    just this week there's all the stories about the demon fires in sicily and how they've called for exorcisms and even the vatican has issued ridiculous and insane staments such as «with cases of demon behaviour it is normal for domestic appliances to be involved and for demons to make their presence known via electricity»!

3. believer or not, what's your favourite superstition?
    favourite or most hated? my favourite is definitely kissing under the mistletoe, but that's really a tradition and not a superstition... and indeed the most hated: the "chain letter!" "so-and-so did not forward the email/letter and dropped dead just three minutes later..." ha!

4. do you believe in luck? If yes, do you have a lucky number/article of clothing/ritual?
    no. but there's certainly such a thing as being in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time and one has great power over this.

5. do you believe in astrology? Why or why not?
    no. but like any mythology, it can greatly and positively inform our lives.


i can hear your nose getting bigger...

did you know that people lie more on the phone than by email?

«the first study to compare honesty across a range of communications media has found that people are twice as likely to tell lies in phone conversations as they are in emails.»

and you wonder why i won't take your calls! hahaha!

scientific breakthrough

US and South Korean scientists have demonstrated for the first time that therapeutic cloning in humans can be achieved.

conservatives, reactionaries and theists are already raising their ignorant and prejudiced voices calling for condemnation and bans. some actually consider this the "american" thing to do. well, it is what their flavour of americans do best: outlaw whatever they disagree with, makes them uncomfortable or don't understand based on their own belief systems.

simply put: «no one religion, no one moral authority can claim to be the final arbiter of this work.» --laurie zoloth of northwestern university in chicago.

for more on the breakthrough, cloning and the debate visit this feature at npr's all things considered.

what's in a name?

secret names by david mamet.


contrary to what you think...

just about a month ago, the chronicle of higher education published lending a lasting hand.

«an ideologically diverse group of scholars is putting forward sweeping proposals that, they say, would transform the low-wage labour market for the benefit of poor people and society at large. one plan would guarantee all citizens a small basic income; another would revive the new deal model of a government-created job for anyone who wants one; still another would provide huge public subsidies to private employers in order to raise the wages of low-skilled workers.»

the most controversial of the plans, yet perhaps the best, is the universal basic income, whose best-known contemporary proponent is philippe van parijs, a professor of economic and moral philosophy at the catholic university of louvain, in belgium.

after three years of economic despair, now in an election year and hoping for a new government come january 2005, it is appropriate to have a serious look at effective government assistance.

«'tis the season to be phoney»

on boxing day 2003, michael bywater brilliantly reviewed william ian miller's new book faking it. while the "holiday season" is over, valentine's day is a week away and, well, the elections are upon us...

«the fundamentals of democracy, liberty and fair dealing have never been so consistently and soupily dissembled. our liberties are being constrained under the guise of increasing them; following saddam's capture we are being fed, behind the transparently phony rhetoric of high purpose, the oldest logical error of all time, the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. in this case, that means they got hussein because the "war" was, and is, a just one.»

do have a look at the editorial reviews section at the book's amazon.com page:

«...starting with hypocrisy, which emulates and contaminates virtue, miller considers the posturing inherent in such mechanisms of civility as religious ritual, seduction, apology and praise. after a due quota of vice spotting, miller warms up to his central theme, the self-consciousness that compromises not only action but identity. the emphasis shifts from behaviour to emotion: alienation, hatred, shame, anxiety, what miller aptly calls the "vexations" behind routine fakeries like professionalism and cosmetics and high-stakes games like courtship and passing...» «...he writes with wit and wisdom about the vain anxiety of being exposed as frauds in our professions, cads in our loves, and hypocrites to our creeds...»


freedom of assembly? of speech?

sorry, never heard of either!

i expect that's what federal prosecutors were saying last week as drake university received subpœnas to turn over a list of people involved in an anti-war forum in november 2003 and to order four activists to testify before a grand jury. federal prosecutors withdrew the orders today.

«congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.»

«congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.»

12 february 04: withdrawn subpœnas still disturbing.


and the winner is...

this year's grammys were awarded last night. as promised, i did not watch the ceremony in protest of the pettiness of organisers who removed janet jackson from the list of presenters. i find this hipocrisy and lack of principle unacceptable and i refuse to be part of the general public supporting it.

i am still interested in learning about all winners though. and not that many seem to know or care, but yes, there are also categories covering classical music; numbers ninety-one through one hundred and three out of a total one hundred and five... not that the "judges" for this award have any clue either...

um, you know, like, i dunno...

«americans may mean what they say, but they can't always summon the language to say what they mean.» is this a problem? rather! and quite serious.

i'd also suggest another look at george orwell's brilliant essay politics and the english language... from 1946 (!):

«most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the english language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. it follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.»

«the english language becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. the point is that the process is reversible. modern english, especially written english, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. if one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad english is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.»


how «the hours» happened

i recently discussed the brilliant additional features to be found on the hours dvd. i had forgotten that about a year ago, the new yorker film critic david denby moderated a panel discussion about the film with michael cunningham, the author of the novel; david hare, who adapted the story for the screen; and stephen daldry, who directed the movie.

i just found a partial transcript of their conversation.

danger seaside

cockle: an edible burrowing bivalve mollusc with a strong ribbed shell. from old french, coquille (shell), from greek konkhe (conch). expression: «warm the cockles of one’s heart» (give one a comforting feeling of contentment). unfortunately this is not the use we give it today.

at least nineteen people perished overnight in the treacherous sands of morecambe bay, lancashire, while picking cockles as a result of the rising tide. the beeb's richard bilton reported that «they worked on in the night as the water rose around them...» this tragedy highlights the plight of immigrant workers elsewhere in the industrialised world... amazing that even in the US the average citizen seems to perceive immigrant workers (whom some think only come from south of the border) as anything other than exploited and abused.

photo afp/paul barker


say what?

via missj

the week ends...

and talking about trouble... it's neither the day to try a «superloo» in staffordshire nor to take the underground in moscow... i fear the cause and total number of casualties in the latter by the time i get up in a few hours...

nota bene: saturday, 07 february 04 - news reports indicate that so far about thirty people lost their life in the blast at the moscow underground and another seventy suffered injuries. this attack will likely be blamed on chechen rebels (they may well take responsibility anyway) and just about eighteen months since putin declared the war in chechnya was over. attacks of this nature aren't new in this conflict; they've been taking place since june 2000.

the list so far includes:
  • a lorry-bomb attack on the grozny administration at the end of december 2002; left 80 people dead.

  • a carbon copy of that attack in znamenskoye, in the north of chechnya in may; left more than 50 dead.

  • an attack at a religious ceremony in chechnya later that month; two female suicide bombers apparently tried to assassinate chechnya's pro-moscow leader (now chechen president) akhmad kadyrov.

  • another lorry bomb in june, which destroyed a branch of the federal security service in grozny and a local government building.

  • a suicide bomb attack on a bus carrying air force personnel near mozdok in north ossetia, the same month.

  • an attack by two female suicide bombers at a rock concert in moscow in july; 15 people killed .

  • another lorry bomb at a military hospital in mozdok on 01 august; killed at least 50 people.

  • a bomb attack on a train in the stavropol region of southern russia, in december; at least 44 people killed .

some 300 people died in these attacks, many thought to have been carried out by chechen women - the wives, mothers and sisters of chechen men killed by russian security forces.

aeroplanes, railroads, motorcars... or the post?

most airline food is terrible, especially in cattle class, if and when one gets any, but you know, an ewr to dfw flight's just under four hours and one could always bring something from home or grab a baggie of goodies near the gate, right? but what about dispensing with this all together, what with the security checks and interminable queues and just shipping oneself to the desired destination? well, it's not really worth the trouble in case i got you wondering...

the beginning of the end?

a new associated press poll indicates that dubya's public support dropped sharply over the past month, especially among older voters, political independents and people in the middle west. and for the first time, more voters in this survey's two years of tracking the question said they would definitely vote against bush than said they would definitely vote for him.

i believe some cork-poppin' is in order and if not for this, well, because it's already friday and i wish it! cheers!


«tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies! tell me, tell me, lies!»

i rest my CASE... well, of course i won't until a hopefully sweet evening just about nine months from now...

listen, just listen all the way through, feel the outrage and remember... come november feel empowered and k-i-c-k 'em o-u-t... even if obl were to suddenly appear captured in october...

nota bene: «former US secretary of state madeleine albright has suggested, only half in jest, that bin Laden was captured some time ago and george w bush is waiting for the most advantageous time to make the announcement.»

unique surgery

baby rebeca martínez was born in the dominican republic in mid-december 2003 with the head of an undeveloped twin fused to the top of her skull. the extra head has a partially formed brain, ears, eyes and lips and shares a branch of the carotid artery with the baby's brain. the operation the baby girl's condition, cranio pagus parasiticus, is so rare that there have only been eight documented cases in the world, and no known cases where surgery has been attempted to correct or to remove it. the first attempt of its kind, is scheduled to take place tomorrow. two surgical teams will be involved in the risky operation — a total of 18 people — including five doctors from university of california los angeles medical centre. if rebeca survives, she is expected to develop normally with no trace of the birth defect.

nota bene: saturday, 07 february 04 - dr santiago hazim at the CURE international centre for orthopedic specialties in santo domingo informed the world that rebeca martínez died of post-surgical bleeding problems at around 6 am this morning, just hours after undergoing the delicate operation to remove her undeveloped second head. the doctors had announced the operation was successfully completed late on friday, but cautioned that the baby would face many risks as she recovered, such as infection or haemorrhaging.

links to pictures have been removed in respect and sympathy for the family's loss. they are indeed available at news sites and elsewhere if interested.

georgia evolves

georgia state schools superintendent kathy cox wanted to avoid controversy and so she made the decision to remove the word evolution from georgia's high school science curricula in favour of the phrase «biological changes over time». the opposite happened. even president jimmy carter joined the firestorm and expressed criticism, noting how the decision had exposed the state to world-wide ridicule. note that what she will do now is recommend that «evolution» remain in the curriculum.

enough already!

spin city - spin city - spin city... dubya visited the library of congress yesterday...and to do what? certainly not to learn anything, the poor man. but to take to the podium and misrepresent again; to continue his manipulation of the average american mosquito-like attention span... in his address, he dropped any explicit reference to the claim of weapons of mass destruction on which he built his case for the attack, invasion and occupation of iraq, insisting instead that baghdad had possessed «the intent and capability to inflict great harm.» *&@#^$%+!

pettiness and censorship

• nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. ~mark twain, notebook, 1935
• take away the right to say "fuck" and you take away the right to say "fuck the government." ~lenny bruce
• you can cage the singer but not the song. ~harry belafonte, in international herald tribune, 3 October 1988

just ten minutes ago the kansas city star reported that janet jackson's name has been stricken from the official list of presenters for sunday's grammy awards {PETTY}. this on the heels of abc's notification to the academy of motion picture arts and sciences that it will, for the first time, use a five-second delay on its oscars broadcast 29 February {CENSORSHIP}.

a note to advertisers: i shall not be watching either show and will consider your endorsement of the oscars an endorsement of censorship... i forget, what's that line on the national anthem? land of the what? the WHAT? louder! i can't hear you!


ten "legal" puns...

01. the short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
02. the hostage said he couldn't stay on the phone long because he was tied up at the moment.
03. the case against a doughnut thief was full of holes.
04. two crooks bought a hotel. they were innmates.
05. a nut named hazel held up a bank saying 'give me all the cashew have'.
06. a criminal's best asset is his lie ability.
07. two robbers with clubs went golfing, but they didn't play the fairway.
08. a prisoner's favourite punctuation mark is the period. it marks the end of his sentence.
09. old burglars never die they just steal away.
10. some burglars are always looking for windows of opportunity.

*a joke exploiting the different meanings of a word or the fact that there are words of the same sound and different meanings.
more @ pun of the day.

massachusetts ruling clears way for gay marriage

i doubt there's anybody reading this who hasn't yet heard the news, yet i wanted to post some quotes from the massachusetts supreme judicial court's opinion and others in massachusetts regarding today's events. in my opinion the most amazing aspect was that the court simply slammed the door shut on civil unions, saying they would violate the constitution by perpetuating a «second-class citizen status» for same-sex couples.

«for no rational reason the marriage laws of the commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of tinkering with language will eradicate that stain. the bill would have the effect of maintaining and fostering a stigma of exclusion that the constitution prohibits.» -- sjc opinion.

«the dissimilitude between the terms 'civil marriage' and 'civil union' is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status.» -- sjc opinion.

«it's wonderful news. the court said separate but equal is not equal. it's now crystal clear, if it wasn't before, that the court meant marriage. the word itself has power and benefits that are intangible. it's a very brave and historic decision.» -- mark carmien, owner of the pride & joy bookstore in northampton.

«i want to have everyone stay in an objective and calm state as we plan and define what's the appropriate way to proceed. there is a lot of anxiety out there obviously surrounding the issue but i don't want to have it cloud or distort the discussion.» -- senate president robert travaglini.

«there's nothing new here. the court spoke last november. on may 17, all families will be treated equally in the commonwealth unless or until the voters choose to write discrimination into our constitution.» -- sen. jarrett barrios.

«there's no doubt that the radical right is going to run with the decision and try and stir up as much outrage as they can, but it's really going to be an orchestrated stirring up and an orchestrated outrage.» -- arline isaacson, massachusetts gay and lesbian political caucus.

«the history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal.» -- sjc opinion.

yet in ohio... a «marriage defence bill» was sent by lawmakers to governor daft, i mean, taft...

jazz in latin

at the observance of the 2000th anniversary (yes, that's three zeroes) of the death of Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), a collection of traditional jazz has been released, sung in latin to texts adapted from Horace and translated by university of helsinki professor emeritus tuomo pekkanen (editor of the finnish broadcasting company's nuntii latini). the CD is titled: «variationes horatianæ iazzicæ». how cool is that?! for further details please contact digelius music.


n'kisi and the baloney detection kit

those who know me would never expect me to shy away from a good indignant rant or tirade, but what would be the point this time when another kindred spirit in the blogsphere has already taken care of the matter, and very well indeed? i'm talking about geoff pullum from at language log and his entry about the talking parrots stories (and animal communication in general) recently all over the net and the media.

«...i'm just appalled at the kind of ridiculous, credulous garbage that sails out into the media universe the moment anyone claims they have located a communicative animal. people seem to completely lose their critical faculties when a bird with a brain the size of a macadamia nut creaks out a few imitated syllables, or (we've seen this before, with koko) a gorilla waves its hairy hand vaguely in the air in a way that its trainer thinks resembles the very sign she was expecting. what is going on? are we so desperate for communication with other intelligences that we will throw away our own the moment some dumb creature gives us an imitative squawk or a hand sign?»

for something truly interesting and amazing regarding language have a look at the news that a swarthmore college linguist has found an unrecorded language in siberia on the brink of extinction.

via languagehat.

been there! done what? I

so it turns out i have visited fourty-four states or eighty-six percent of them. you may create your own map here.

been there! done what? II

and i've only visited or lived in thirty-seven countries or sixteen percent of them. you may create your own map here.

feeding you!

blogger giveth and so shall yours truly. the company has launched support for atom which means, among other things, that arcana imperii is now syndicated and can be read not only here, but also through newsreaders, other web sites and most splendidly, handheld devices.

newsreaders which support atom include NewsMonster, NewzCrawler, NewsGator and BottomFeeder. there's a growing list of newsreaders at AtomEnabled.org.


low-income housing to get broadband

less than 30 percent of lowest-income households have access to the internet in the US. it's great news indeed to learn that the problem is being addressed.

nonprofit technology group one economy corporation is leading a coalition which today launched a national effort to encourage builders of low-income housing to include broadband internet connections in new building projects. the campaign is called Bring IT Home.

the goal of One Economy is to use Bring IT Home to help the residents of low-income housing learn about and address other issues affecting poor communities, including health care, jobs, and crime.