quotation of the week: the power of presence«presence is a noun, not a verb; it is a state of being, not doing. states of being are not highly valued in a culture which places a high priority on doing. yet, true presence or "being with" another person carries with it a silent power -- to bear witness to a passage, to help carry an emotional burden or to begin a healing process. in it, there is an intimate connection with another that is perhaps too seldom felt in a society that strives for ever-faster "connectivity."»
from the power of presence by debbie hall for npr.
Carta a Santa ClausQuerido Santa Claus:
Te extrañará que te escriba hoy 26 de diciembre, pero quiero aclarar ciertas cosas que me han ocurrido desde que te mandé mi carta, lleno de ilusiones, en la que te pedía que me trajeras una bicicleta, un tren eléctrico, una XBOX 360 y un par de patines. Quiero comentarte, Santa Claus, que me maté estudiando todo el año, tanto que no sólo fui de los primeros de la clase, sino que saqué puros dieces en el colegio, no te voy a engañar. No hubo nadie que se portara mejor que yo, ni con sus papás, ni con sus hermanitos, ni con sus amiguitos, ni con sus vecinos. Hacía recados SIN COBRAR, ayudaba a los viejecitos a cruzar la calle y no había nunca algo que no hiciera por mis semejantes, y sin embargo, ¡¡¡QUÉ HUEVOS LOS TUYOS SANTA CLAUS!!!
Es que... dejar debajo del arbolito una puta peonza, una mierda de trompeta y un maldito par de calcetines, ¡QUÉ CA--GA--DA!. ¿Qué hostias te has creído barrigudo? O sea que me porto como un imbécil todo este año para que me vengas con una mierda de este calibre. Y no conforme con eso, al maricón del hijo de la vecina, a ese idiota sin educación, malcriado, desobediente que le grita a su mamá, a ese tonto de las pelotas que no puede entrar a su cuarto de tantos juguetes que tiene, a él sí le trajiste todo lo que te pidió. Por eso ahora quiero que venga un terremoto o algo así, para que nos lleve a la mierda a todos, ya que con un Santa Claus como tú, tan incompetente y falso, mejor que nos trague la tierra.
Pero eso sí, no dejes de venir el año que viene porque voy a reventar a pedradas a tus putos y sarnosos venados. Empezando por esa mierda de Rudolph que tiene nombre de homosexual. Te los voy a espantar para que tengas que joderte, caminando a pie como yo ¡cabrón!, ya que la bicicleta que te pedí era para ir al colegio, que queda a tomar por culo de mi casa.
No quisiera despedirme sin antes mentarte a la madre que te parió, ojalá que cuando hayas subido muy alto se te de la vuelta el puto trineo y te pegues una buena hostia por ser tan hijo de puta.
Pero eso sí, eh, te advierto que el año que viene vas a saber lo que es un niño maldito, desgraciado y cabrón.
P.D. La peonza, la trompeta y el par de calcetines puedes recogerlos cuando quieras y metértelos por el culo.
here's a loosely translated version in english.
one thing...«if i traded it all
if i gave it all away for one thing
just for one thing
if i sorted it out
if i knew all about this one thing
wouldn’t that be something.»
~one thing by finger eleven
happy winter solstice and holidays to all!
bon nadal i feliç any nou!
god jul och gott nytt år!
god jul og godt nytt år!
glædelig jul og godt nytår!
gleðileg jól og farsælt komandi ár!
hyvää joulua ja onnellista uutta vuotta!
maligayang pasko at manigong bagong taon!
nollaig chridheil agus bliadhna mhath ùr!
nadolig llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
nollaig shona agus blian nua fe mhaise!
fröhliche weihnachten und ein gutes neues jahr!
joyeux noël et bonne nouvelle année!
¡feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!
noeliniz ve yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun!
buon natale e felice anno nuovo!
prettige kerstdagen en een voorpoedig nieuwjaar!
kellemes karácsonyi ünnepeket és boldog új évet!
feliz natal e bom ano novo!
mele kalikimaka me ka hauoli makahiki hou!
koa kirihimete a kia hari te tau hou!
«idah saidan wa sanah jadidah»
«de christmas akhtar de bakhtawar au newai kal de mubarak sha»
«meri kurisumasu soshite akemashite omedeto!»
«christmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad va sâle-no mobârak»
«chag molad sameach veshanah tovah»
«shub naya baras»
καλά χριστούγεννα και καλή χρoνιά πολλά!
C Pождеством Хpистовым и Лучший Новый Год!
natale hilare et annum faustum!
alistair cooke's bones stolen in nycthe beeb reports that according to the new york daily news the body and bones of alistair cooke were stolen before his cremation by a criminal ring trading body parts. allegedly, the body snatchers surgically removed his bones and sold them for more than £4,000 ($7,000) to a company supplying parts for use in dental implants and various orthopaedic procedures.
i wonder whose ashes (or what's) mr cooke's family spread over central park in manhattan almost two years ago. same goes for the ashes spread over the aegean sea, allegedly belonging to the legendary callas. see, she was cremated in a hurry after her death in august 1977 and burried at père lachaise. some time later her grave was found disturbed and the ashes missing. only they were "found" elsewhere in the cemetery. how do we know if the ashes burried at père lachaise were hers in the first place. who would do so and then leave them behind? i mean, was this the work of a deranged fan obsessed with feng-shui or someone who'd just want to keep or sell or otherwise dispose of the diva's ashes and then felt guilty? don't think so. i bet the ashes in the aegean were a cat's or something...
definitionpsychology, the mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas he or she already possesses.
what a dangerous process when the already possessed ideas are, for instance, wrong and the assimilation serves to pseudo-support them further rather than correct them. take, creationism, or as it's now known pseudo-euphemistically, intelligent design. the "psychology" here astonishes.
quotation of the weeka definition of present by american satirist ambrose bierce:
«that part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.»
give me the finger!the fingers of democracy...
naming the enemya panelist on this evening's washington week stated that the US has so far used thirty-three terms «define» the enemy we're fighting in iraq. the implications of naming the enemy are disturbingly serious given what's at stake. this is not just about the security of our homeland and of our citizens worldwide, nor just about the countries and people of the countries touched by our fight against terrorism and our occupation of iraq, but about the fundamental principles of our democracy and the role and responsibilities we impose on our government at home and overseas. it's about whether we can live to up to our commitments and ideals, whether we can accomplish what we set out to do.
what and/or whom are we fighting in iraq? the idea that we went there to fight terrorism has been utterly discredited even though unquestionably we are fighting it when we are dealing with al-zarqawi and his allies.
we are indeed fighting insurgents, but the administration fears the use of the word perchance because it implies accepting or at least seriously considering the view of experts expressing that fighting an insurgency to victory requires nine to ten years and it fears the political risk involved as americans seem more apprehensive than ever about supporting such an enterprise. we'd like it all said and done cleanly and quickly and it just can't and won't be this way this time round. this is quite a harsh notion when we still have to take care of our own country and ourselves.
what if this word-game, the one calling the enemy in iraq saddamists, rejectionists, insurgents, terrorists or any of the other twenty-eight terms applied to them so far, prompts america at-large to ask, basically, what it is we're really doing there when we don't even know whom we're fighting or what the targets really are? ah, therein lies a difference i reckon has been overlooked.
we may not know what to call the enemy, but we do know what they stand for and we fight against that. we fight against threats to our national security, the free-flow of oil, and for stability in the region which can only be achived through democracy and the development of a strong civil society. regardless of whether we had the right to do it or should have done it in the first place, we've toppled a heinous totalitarian regime. we did it without a plan for the following day, which was the most short-sighted, irresponsible and serious mistake of the whole enterprise, again, barring starting the war in the first place, but we've done it. we are there.
we must accept that we can't just pack up and leave. there's no way round this. we must stay the course. i stood against hurrying to war while the existence of weapons of mass destruction was so in question. i stood against it while it was clear that we did not have a plan, that we didn't even have anybody to take the reins of government once saddam hussein's dictatorship fell. pretending that we did in the figure of chalabi is an egregious assault on honesty and intelligence. BUT, we attacked, we invaded, we toppled the regime and occupied the country. this meant that we had to stand behind our troops and demand that our government be true to the principles that should guide it and the commitments it would make on our behalf. but americans in general aren't comfortable with complexity nor seem very adept at judging who can handle it successfully, opting more often that not, for the simple, the plain and the familiar. so last year a large majority voted for the man who would continue the war after claiming victory and still without a plan rather than for another who at least hoped to end it before the mere massive yet still inadequate (in numbers) military presence in iraq became a stronger and more widely accpeted reason or excuse to fight us.
there's been important successes, but still, less than half the funds destined for reconstruction have been spent meaning that among other goals, i believe our efforts to train iraqis to defend themselves and secure peace remain less than satisfactory. this also translates into a failure to mobilise iraqi society to manifest itself massively against the insurgency and in favour of taking their future into their own hands democratically, free from tyranny and terror, supported by its new allies. i do recognise that these tasks are more than arduous in a country where the majority of its people lived under the tyranny, absue and discrimination of a minority; a country further fragmented by tribalism and ethnic and religious differences which can't be overcome overnight. but i'm concerned we are failing to capitalise on the influence of theexisting highly-skilled, educated population and the heroes who have risked their lives to cast votes and will do so again, hopefully in larger numbers, a third time in the upcoming election. i am just thinking of the power massive and public manifestations of support for their own future, not the occupation per se, can have on those determined to derail it, for instance. but how could they know this when they hear that we just want to get out of there as soon as possible?
it's easier to grab a candle and hit the streets to voice our views in our country and other industrialised, democratic nations, when we don't really have to fear being shot by insurgents, when we can do so because we are empowered to do so by our general economic well-being or stability. but iraqis could be encouraged to exercise their new freedom, that there's indeed increased safety in numbers, especially with massive supportive military power in situ.
at the same time, we americans need to accept responsibility for the exercise in nation-building we granted our government permission to conduct, committing to it aware that it won't conclude within months or the next couple of years. the majority of americans chose bush to continue as commander-in-chief and so it's incumbent upon us all to demand he fulfills his duties courageously and properly which means that the administration has to, not only welcome the criticism it has been ignoring for far too long, but consider and implement alternative strategies which seem better than the obviously still non-existing plan. we may not know what to call the enemy, but we do know what our troops are fighting for (and against), we just need to accept it will take longer than some blindly believed and become aware of the sacrifices it entails. we risk becoming our own enemies.
this acceptance gets us all to work for victory and the political lithmus test as we vote for our legislators and the executive becomes whether incumbents and candidates have a real, plausible strategy and can implement it and not whether we should stay or go, simply and... plainly.
Divine press releaseαι further interrupts regular blogging for the following urgent and slightly edited satiche news bulletin (just pretend it's already a week after xmas, yeah?):
Turmoil rocked heaven this morning as allegations arose that god had had an affair with a former worshipper. The scandal began when a 21-year-old woman, known only as Mary, claimed that she had given birth to god's "only son" last week in a barn in the hamlet of Bethlehem.
Sources close to Mary claim that she "had loved god for a long time", that she was constantly talking about her relationship with god, and that she was "thrilled to have had his child". in a press conference this morning, god issued a vehement denial, saying that "no sexual relationship existed", and that "the facts of this story will come out in time, verily".
Independent counsel Kenneth Beelzebub immediately filed a brief with the Ministry of Justice to expand his investigation to cover questions of whether any commandments may have been broken, and whether god had illegally funnelled laundered money to his illegitimate child through three foreign operatives know only as the "Wise Men". Beelzebub has issued subpœnas to several angels who are rumoured to have acted as go-betweens in the affair.
Critics have pointed out that these allegations have little to do with the charges that Beelzebub was originally appointed to investigate, that god had created large-scale flooding in order to cover up evidence of a failed land deal.
In recent months, Beelzebub's investigation has already been expanded to cover questions surrounding the large number of locusts that plagued god's political opponents in the last election, as well as to claims that the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was to divert attention away from a scandal involving whether the give-away of a parcel of public land in promised county to a Jewish special interest group was quid pro quo for political contributions.
If these allegations prove to be true, then this could be a huge blow to god's career, much of which has been spent crusading for stricter moral standards and harsher punishments for wrongdoers. Indeed, god recently outlined a "tough-on-crime" plan consisting of a series of 10 "Commandments", which has been introduced in Parliament in a bill by Moses, MP. Critics of the bill in the USA, where it is being considered by Congress, have pointed out that it lacks any provisions for the rehabilitation of criminals, and solicitors for the ACLU are planning to fight the "name in vain" commandment as being an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
xmas resolutions for alljust a few special suggestions...
end a quarrel.
seek out a forgotten
friend. dismiss suspicion,
and replace it with trust...
write a love letter. share some
treasure. give a soft answer.
encourage youth. manifest your loyalty
in word and deed. keep a promise. find the
time. forgo a grudge. forgive an enemy. listen.
apologise and make ammends if you were wrong. try to understand.
flout envy. examine your demands on others. help.
think first of someone else. appreciate. be kind; be gentle.
laugh a little. laugh a little more. deserve confidence. take up
arms against malice. decry complacency. express your gratitude.
go see he who waits for you.
gladden the heart of a child.
take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the universe.
speak your love.
speak it again.
speak it still
how the angel came to be on top of the christmas treewell, in a now rare moment of jocosity round here, as friends discussed decorating for the season and the new "upside-down" tree mini-craze (about US$600 to 700 at hammacher schlemmer's for instance), i recalled there's a story of how that little angel came to be atop the christmas tree and told it as best i could, having forgotten the details... in any case, i found a fun and more complete version at satiche and thought i'd share it here [ed. j].
so there had been no snow during the entire month of december. the elves in the bicycle department had been on strike since october, and now there was the possibility that the elves in the doll department might join them.
daily life so far north in finland hadn't been too pleasant lately, and father christmas (joulupukki, actually. you know, santa) was in a rather foul mood. mrs claus was suffering from arthritis and was quite upset given that her red-velvet cake had fallen in the oven. santa had tried to round up some extra helpers, but with no snow, they were delayed, unable to travel by sleigh to the workshop.
rudolph had caught a bad cold, and his nose wouldn't light up. comet and prancer were fighting over vixen, who had just come into heat. blitzen's right foreleg was still in a cast, and the vet said that they would have to wait until 24 december to decide if blitzen would be able to pull the sleigh.
the electricity went off, and all the power tools came to a stop. there was nothing going right in santa's workshops. the helpers were about three weeks behind in their work, and it didn't look that all the toys would be ready by christmas eve. santa's foul mood was exacerbated by a bad case of hæmorrhoids, and he wasn't too happy about the prospect of so far on christmas eve.
seeing the terrible state of affairs at the north pole chez santa, the angels took up an offering to buy a gift for the unhappy workers and the clauses - something that would brighten their christmas. they chose a christmas tree, and they sent it down by angel.
the angel burst into the workshop room and asked, «hiya! er, where do you want me to put this tree?»