Sunday, December 30, 2007

Action on Chad Workers

Further to the post I made several days ago about the French humanitarian workers who are in jail thanks to the government of Chad, I have obtained the address of Chad's embassy in the United States online, and will post it here. Please use the address to send them a civil letter calling for the Chadian government to agree to the commutation of their sentence.

The address is:

Embassy of Chad in Washington, United States
2002 R Street, NW
D.C. 20009
United States

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto: The Imperfect Martyr

I am not very convinced of the view of Benazir Bhutto as a martyr for democracy. Even if some of the charges against her were made up by Pakistani intelligence, as some have suggested, there is strong reason to believe she was involved with Oil-for-Food corruption, as the BBC has reported. Furthermore, some of these convictions have been by foreign courts, where the influence of the Pakistani military would probably be little or non-existant.

Andrew Sullivan has a relatively realistic look at the implications here. The Suburban Guerilla blog has some good commentary on the U.S.'s role and aims in bring Bhutto back to Pakistan.

Note to Humanitarian Workers: DO NOT Go to Chad

Although coverage of this issue has largely been lost in the storm of news over Benazir Bhutto's assassination, Yahoo news has recently reported that six French aid workers convicted of kidnapping in Chad by a kangaroo court are being sent back to France.

These workers, from a humanitarian group called Zoe's Ark, are accused of supposedly trying to kidnap a group of Chadian children, whom they masqueraded as children from Darfur. The case is very complex, but the Chadian court, strongly biased against the French due to the previous imperial relationship between the countries, came to a verdict in only four days.

Many have described the group as being in over its head and amateurish. They tried to pose the children as being injured in order to get them out of the country more easily. Although this may be the case, there is no reason to believe they were actually trying to kidnap the children. For example, they had a journalist with them who was documenting their efforts, not a usual activity for a kidnapper.

Hopefully, the workers will have their sentences commuted in France, as many are expecting. In the meanwhile, humanitarian workers should think twice before they waste their efforts on an ungrateful country such as Chad.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Entry on Young Philly Politics

I just posted an entry to the Young Philly Politics blog. You can look at it here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What the Philadelphia Media Should REALLY Be Agog About

Rather than focusing so much schadenfreude on Alicia Lane, the Philadelphia press should focus their attention on where it matters, the ever-mounting scandals in city government. This post on Young Philly Politics can fill you in on all the sleazy details.

A large part of the reason that we are never able to really reform City Hall is that a large segment of the population doesn't really focus on these scandals. They just see it as part of the course of life. Our media are largely content to blandly report the story without showing any real outrage. The best they could must was support for the so-called reformer, Sam Katz, who turned out to be a little tainted himself.

I e-mailed one columnist, Jill Porter, who writes for the Daily News. I stumbled across her blast against Alicia Lane on the Philly News website, and after lamenting her gloating, suggested she direct her outrage in a more important direction. All she could say was that she had written about corruption before, and that she just writes about what people are talking about.

Write about it again, Ms. Porter. Get people talking about it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I (Don't) Heart Huckabee

This past Thursday, while listening to All Things Considered on NPR, I heard a mind-boggling story about Mike Huckabee's plan to replace the income tax and the IRS and the income tax with the fair tax, which would tax consumer goods rather than income.

As the story notes, this is a regressive tax which would put more of a burden on people with low incomes than on the wealthy. Furthermore, although it would dispose of the IRS, it would create two more huge bureaucracies, one to see that the tax was enforced, another to administer the rebates Huckabee proposes to offset the taxes on needed household items.

Huckabee may be likeable-even my father, a New Deal Democrat, likes him-but his ideas are all washed up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

This Is Why I Tend to be Skeptical of Animal Rights Groups

A recent posting on the website gives me real cause for concern. This organization, Animal Place, gives shelter to animals that have been rescued from factory farms and advocates better treatment of animals, all of which I support. However, what I saw demonstrates a serious case of misplaced priorities.

The posting in question asks people not to donate to charities such as Heifer International and Oxfam because they offer to give farm animals to poor Africans and Asians for them to eat. Although, towards the end of their post, they quibble about whether the donations are actually used to provide animals, (something the organizations themselves point out in their mailings, as Animal Place itself admits). However, it is easy to tell from reading the post that their real concern is the animal getting killed. Dead goats, a tragedy. Starving black people...boring.

Am I the only person who sees this as mildly racist? Even if the money doesn't go directly to providing animals, it still helps these organizations fulfill their mission. To me, that seems more important than some animals' suffering.

The vegan types will quibble that if we didn't use a lot of grain to fatten livestock, we would be able to feed everyone. Never mind that fact that this would not solve the problem of food distribution and economic inequality, it also ignores the issue of what the people of these countries want to eat. Time and again, when countries such as China and the Pacific islands become more prosperous, they tend to switch to a meat based diet. These people have a right to eat what they want to without critiques from the vegans.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Why Huckabee Worries Me...

It's not just the whole not believing in evolution thing. It's his entire value system. Andrew Sullivan gives us one evangelical blooper from Huckabee here. Not gonna help with the women's vote, Mike.

Even more disturbing is a recent story regarding past remarks Huckabee has made about HIV / AIDS. That was just over the line. More information can be obtained from this Slate article.

Military Commissions and Justice

The local blog Suburban Guerrilla has an interesting post regarding military commissions and dissent within the military over how they are being run. Apparently, someone involved in running the commissions has resigned because he believes they are not being run in a fair, impartial manner.

You can read it here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Hitchens on Romney

Christopher Hitchens is his usual cutting self in a Slate commentary on Mitt Romney's Mormonism speech.

A must read!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Post on Another Blog

Just so you know, I have posted an entry to the Young Philly Politics blog. You can view it here. It is about the violence in Philadelphia.

Romney Gives His Spiel

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting commentary about Mitt Romney's new speech regarding his Mormonism. He has some interesting points.

First, although Romney wants to make his Mormonism a non-issue, he still uses a religious rhetoric, which will naturally bring religion into the race as an issue. For instance, in today's speech, he claims, "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." Uh Mitt, if you want to keep your religion out of it, you shouldn't constantly bring up religion.

Also, as Sullivan correctly points out, Romney does not acknowledge the right not to have a religion, to be an aetheist or a secularist. If people are allowed not to vote for aetheists, then they can not vote for Mormons, either.

I do think that Sullivan goes too easy on Romney. For instance, while Sullivan claims that Mormonism should not be a factor at all, I do think it should be a matter of concern to voters if a candidate is a devout Mormon. Let's face it, Mormonism is Christianity's answer to Scientology (i.e. an outright, easily seen through scam.) If a candidate is willing to swallow that, who knows what else he might swallow. (For more on this, see this Slate article by Jacob Weisburg.)

Furthermore, the religious rhetoric itself disturbs me. Previous candidates who have had to deal with religious intolerance, such as JFK, maintained a steadfastly secular approach to their campaigns. They did not sell themselves as God or the Pope's candidate. NPR had a great segment about this on Morning Edition.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Will Blacks Back Barack?

Andrew Sullivan reports that Barack Obama may just stand a chance at gaining the support of black Americans. Although he cites no statistics, Sullivan points to reports that some African-Americans are tired of Hillary Clinton taking their support for granted. He uses this as evidence for his contention that an African-American would stand a chance at being elected President.

I am not totallly convinced one way or the other. I certainly hope that at this point people have gotten past prejudice enough to elect an African-American to the executive office. Nonetheless, I must take issue with Sullivan's certainty on the matter, especially when it comes to lower middle class and working class white people. My own experience tells it isn't the case.

Furthermore, we have to consider the experience of the African-Americans themselves, who are very doubtful about the matter. I just can't believe that a gay, Catholic Englishman is better position to just the racial situation than the African-Americans themselves. Sorry, Andy...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Republican Parking Authority

Two days ago in the Philadelphia Inquirer, an article revealed that local Republicans have established a death grip over the Philadelphia Parking Authority, with local ward leaders calling the shots and pressuring employees, both directly and indirectly, for campaign donations. Read more about it at the Young Philly Politics blog.

This just goes to show that Philadelphia's Republicans have become mired in the same corrupt political establishment as the Democrats. At this point, we may need to bring a third party in, like the Libertarians or the Green Party, to clean things up.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is not completely dead,as this expose demonstrates. However, I must quarrel with one Young Philly Politics commenter who claims that this is proof that the Inqy hasn't turned into a right wing den of lies. Anyone who doubts that that is the case should take a look at the columns of Kevin Ferris, Jonathan Last, and Michael Smerconish.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some Comedy in the Inquirer

This morning, while I was sitting in my barbershop-Grillo's on Allegheny Ave.- waiting for a haircut, I happened to glance at the editorial page of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In it, I found a genuinely comic letter by one Frank Solis.

Mr. Solis's contention is that recent efforts by Democratic senators to keep the Senate in session so that President Bush cannot make recess appointments are an example of-gasp!-socialism. He derides these efforts as a "typical socialist gambit" and claims they are part of a democratic effort to impose "secularism" on our country. (Never mind the fact that, compared to Europe, American is a bloody theocracy.)

Honestly, Mr. Solis, it's called a parliamentary maneuver. If you can't deal with that, maybe you should move to a dictatorship. (I hear Pakistan is getting quite interesting these days.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

All Hail the New York Times

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I treated myself to a copy of the New York Times. I have to admit, it is the greatest newspaper I have ever read. It's all in the detail. They go into more depth, and have more on the ground reporters, than most newspapers.

One example is their treatment of the Iraq War and the Surge. While acknowledging that the increase in troops has decreased American casualties, it is careful to point out that there are still a number of problems facing Iraq, particularly the divide between those Sunnis who are now allied with us, and the Shi'ites who now run the Iraqi government. These problems raise the potential of a civil war, and should not be ignored.

Compare this with Kevin Ferris and his editorials in the Philadelphia Inquirer. While briefly acknowledging the possibility of future setbacks, he goes on to crow about how the Democrats are wrong and appealing to sentimental patriotism.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Shock Doctrine-Naomi Klein

Here is a video that I saw online today. It is on the website of Naomi Klein, an anti-globalization writer and activist, who has recently published a new book called The Shock Doctrine. The book focuses on the privatization of such traditionally governmental functions as disaster relief, ranging from Hurricane Katrina to private mercenary armies such as Blackwater.

I do not necessarily agree with everything Naomi Klein argues. For example, she claims the Falklands War as an example of her theory, when it was really Argentina that started the war, not Margaret Thatcher, as you might deduce from the video. (Although it is true she benefited from the war.) I have posted the video here:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Philadelphia Ron Paul Rally

I know this is a century in blogging terms, but this previous Saturday, I attended a rally for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul at Independence Mall in Philadelphia. It was a very exciting and thought-provoking experience.

According to some estimates, roughly 4,000 people attended the rally. I was lucky enough to get a pretty good seat. A lot of the people ended up standing. (Initially the seats were reserved for veterans, but apparently too few veterans showed up to justify it.)

If nothing else, Ron Paul attracts a diverse crowd. The supporters ranged from working class, dyed in the wool libertarians to punk anti-war types with five piercings. There was one African-American woman dressed up as the Statue of Liberty (She's in the second photo down on the latter link). You don't see many candidates who can attract a crowd like that.

Of course, I don't agree with every position Ron Paul has taken. That made this whole thing a rather interesting study in group think. I ended up cheering for things I didn't really believe in, such as withdrawing from the UN and an end to gun control. It was like the force of the crowd just swept me up. I just wanted to fit in.

I will leave you with some footage of the rally,just click here and here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pakistan Moves One Inch Closer to Utter Chaos

Well, Benazir Bhutto, the corrupt politician who is currently Pakistan's best hope for democracy (God, or Allah, help the Pakistanis!), is now under house arrest by the Musharref government. Is any one in doubt that Pakistan is going to hell in a handbag. They've locked up the woman who represents the road to elections, and she's a damn rocky road at that.

For more info, see the post at the Reason blog by Nick Gillespie, including my comments under MPG.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

It's Nutter

Michael Nutter has been elected the mayor of Philadelphia. It'll be up to him to get the city out of its current hole. I am skeptical of how much he'll actually accomplish, partially because of the fact that not all of the city's problems are under his control-crime is to a large extent the function of the state of the economy-and he has a city council made up largely of the same old corrupt democratic establishment.

In the end, it's largely in the hands of Philadelphia, as the Young Philly Politics blog notes.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Reflections on a Lockdown

In the few days that have passed since the lockdown at La Salle University, I have been thinking a bit about the whole issue of fear and safety in modern society, and the need to strike a balance between prudence and living in a state of total panic.

Too much nowadays, we seem to go constantly from one type of crisis to another, with little respite or sense of proportion. We are panicking about toys from China, school shootings, MRSA, and Iran, all at the same time. Far from being the utopia predicted by futurists, the twenty-first century has been in a continual state of mass hysteria.

This naturally has provoked a backlash in at least some quarters. Libertarians, such as the publishers of Reason magazine, feel that our state of panic has produced too much regulation, unduly limiting human freedom. They have a point in some respects, such as drug laws; however, they often take it too far, rebelling against event prudent measures such as limited gun control.

In the end, the problem is largely traceable to mass media. Our modern communications infrastructure and twenty-four hour news networks do alert us to major problems, such as overseas events. However,they also create a heightened sense of fear by hyping every new threat that appears, leading to overreactions such as La Salle's.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Over...Not that they'd tell us

Well, the lockdown's over. Still, they didn't do much of anything to inform us of this. They had a security guard come in when the lockdown was first announced, bellowing at the top of his lungs about how everyone must stay in the bloody building until further notice, and then they don't give us further notice. Bloody bureaucracies.

La Salle Lockdown

I am here at La Salle University, which has been locked down due to a shooting at 66th and West Oak Lane, which if I am not mistaken is over a mile away.

After the whole Virginia Tech bloodbath, I guess the administration is a little nervous about the possibility of a school shooting and, more likely, the lawsuits that would stem from it. Thanks to these lawsuit-fearing pansies, I'm stuck in this goddamn computer lab.

Although I think safety precautions and quick reactions are all prudent measures, I believe our society has become too fearful of danger and risk. This has culminated not only in a lawsuit-happy culture where we punish everyone and anyone if something goes wrong, but also in a culture of fear, where we panic at the slightest hint of a threat. Notice how we panic at every bit of chatter from al-Qaeda.

Meanwhile, I am trying to cope. I have been trying to call Mom. The phones in this lab don't seem to reach the outside world, or Mom is busy talking to someone on the phone, as I got a busy signal when I tried. I just don't want her worrying.

The atmosphere in the room is surprisingly relaxed. I felt a lot of tension when I first heard about it, but I am beginning to calm down. The students seem to be taking it in stride. I think they realize the risk of the shooter coming here is relatively low.

Monday, October 29, 2007

How 'Bout Them BoSox!

Well, the World Series has turned out to be a complete sweep! Red Sox vs. Rockies 4-0.

I have to admit, I was glad to see the Rockies receive a collective kick in the rear. After all, they dealt the Phillies a sweep at the beginning of the playoffs several weeks ago.

Still, I have to give the Rockies credit, as they had some great fielding and pitching through much of the Series. Terry Francona admitted that he was biting his nails throughout the last half inning of the game. (While we're on the subject of Francona, why on earth did the Phillies fire him anyway? See what's he's done for Boston?)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

An Endorsement for Philly's Elections

On November 6th, I recommend that everyone in the city vote for David Oh for City Council at Large. I think he is a candidate who could bring real reform to the city.

A recent article in the Philadelphia City Paper described Oh's underdog candidacy, bucking both the Democratic establishment and the (so-called) leaders of the Philadelphia Republican Party. He is targeting Republician councilman Jack Kelly, a waste of space who has spent his time in City Council trying to ban foie gras, on account of possible cruelty to animals. Never mind all the murder victims piling up on the city streets, Mr. Kelly.

We need a city councilman who really cares about the state of Philadelphia, rather than wasting time appealing to middle-class animal rights activists who have nothing better to do with their time. David Oh looks like the man who can make that happen.

Friday, October 26, 2007

World Series, Game 2

The Sox won again last night. Still, the Rockies demonstrated they were a team to be reckoned with, keeping the Sox offense down to only a few hits and even fewer runs.

A recent article on the Slate website sings the praises of the Rockies' fielding, which was truly on display yesterday evening, with many hitters getting thrown out at first. The article argues that fielding is just as important as offensive prowess to a team's success.

I have to admit, I have always found fielding to be one of the most impressive aspects of baseball. Just the thought of catching a ball flying at you from over a hundred feet in the air gives me the tingles.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

World Series Game 1

Last night's World Series game was one of the most amazing I have ever seen. The Red Sox's performance at the bottom of the fifth inning was incredible-seven home runs in a half-hour long inning! That was some of the best offensive performance ever.

Their pitching was also great. They kept the Rockies down to one run, an amazing accomplishment given Colorado's recent success streak.

Outside of the Phillies, I really like the Red Sox. Until relatively recently, they've shared our underdog status. During the pre-game show last night, one commentator predicted that the Sox were no match for the Rockies. He may just eat his words.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Potentially Interesting Video Blog

In last week's Philadelphia Weekly, I read about an interesting video blog called Shadow World, which documents what life is like under the Kensington Avenue El. It features interviews with the various people you'll find there, ranging from shop keepers to crackheads.

It's worth a look. Just click on the link above.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Worst Debate Ever...

Saturday's debate between Democratic mayoral candidate Michael Nutter and Republican would-be candidate Al Taubenberger was a waste of all thirty minutes of its time. The candidates rarely if ever disagreed, and Taubenberger frankly came across as a non-entity with no political experience.

Philadelphia's political situation is truly pathetic. Despite the city being in wretched condition after fifty years of rule by the local Democratic party, which has grown undeniably corrupt, the Republican Party has failed to mount an effective response. Part of this is because of the racial politics of Philadelphia. However, a total lack of organization on the part of the Republicans, combined with an over-reliance on the now discredited Sam Katz, has rendered the Philadelphia Republicans totally worthless as a party.

Just take a look at Taubenberger's website. It isn't even well put together, especially when compared to Nutter's website, linked above. The candidate hasn't even bothered to present himself well or run a decent campaign.

I am thinking of looking at third party candidates, just as a means of protest. The Green Party of Philadelphia doesn't seem to be running anybody for mayor, but I'll look into other possibilities.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bombings in Pakistan

The attempted assassination of former Pakistani leader Bhutto yesterday by a suicide bomber illustrates the instability of Pakistan and the potential threat it poses to US interests. If Pakistan plunges into chaos, we will face the real prospect of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of al-Qaeda, as well as the possibility of limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with devastating consequences for the US economy.

In my opinion, this demonstrates another reason why we should disengage from Iraq. By having all of our troops tied up in Mesopotamia, we run the very real risk that we will be unable to quickly react to situations in the rest of the world. There is an opportunity cost for every military engagement we participate in. The potential opportunity cost of Iraq is becoming too high.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ron Paul DVD

Last night, I watched a DVD of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's various television appearances, including his participation in televised debates with Rudy Giuliani. He has some good ideas, some bad ideas, and some truly odd ideas.

For example, he thinks we should draw out of Iraq completely-good idea. However, he also thinks we should get rid of the income tax, the inheritance tax, and the inflation tax, among others-bad idea. And, just to top things off, he thinks that the Federal Reserve and our membership in the United Nations are unconstitutional. Okay...

I received this DVD from a group of students supporting Ron Paul at La Salle Monday. They seemed like far left types who actually would not agree with many of Ron Paul's positions, such as his opposition to abortion. They deserve kudos for having included these positions on their home-produced DVD.

Their support for this candidate speaks to the pathetic lack of truly anti-war and anti-drug war candidates in the 2008 race. You have to go with fundamentalist libertarians to find anyone with intelligent positions on these issues.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Getting a Little Naive There, Andy

Andrew Sullivan, usually a pretty insightful blogger, came up with a pretty naive post today. He thinks that African-Americans are not supporting Obama because they wrongly think a black person can't win the presidency.

Although I would not necessarily conclude it is impossible for a black man to win, I would not deny that this could be the case. Although racism has been-thankfully-largely extirpated from the middle and upper classes, it is alive and well among the lower middle and working classes. There are various reasons for this, too many to go into in a single blog post. Nevertheless, this is the case, and cannot be denied by anyone who has dealt with this portion of society.

Sullivan's naivity stems either from a lack of contact or, as I suspect is the case, a lack of interest in the bottom half of society. These remaining sections of bigotry will be obstacle to Senator Obama, albeit one he may well overcome.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Assassins at the Arden Theatre

Yesterday, I went to see the play Assassins at the Arden Theatre. I really enjoyed it. The actors were uniformly good-I especially liked the woman who played Squeaky Fromme. I also found it to be hilarious, yet at the same time a deep exploration of how disappointing it can be to live in America.

I stayed for the question and answer session after the show. A lot of audience members, especially the older ones, seemed to take issue with the play, considering it to be in bad taste. Uh, folks, what the hell did you expect? It's a musical about presidential assassins for crying out loud!

One woman sitting next to me kept muttering about how offensive it was. Getting annoyed, I turned to her and asked, "Then why did you attend?" The woman apparently had not even bothered to find out what the play was about.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Phillies On the Line

Well, the home team's facing a tough one. If we don't win tonight's game, we're toast.

My thinking is we need to get some more effective pitchers. We have a few prime cuts, like Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer, but a lot just can't do anything.

Visit Phillies Nation and Phillies Foul Balls for more information.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Possible Change

I may be setting up a new blog in the near future, as I am no longer in Cambridge. Will be getting back to you all on this in the near future.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Surprising No One...

Lindsay Lohan has been arrested for drunken driving. Didn't Bill Maher predict this a year ago? He must be psychic!

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Sorry, the link did not come up last time. Just type (or copy and paste) this address into your browser, and you'll get a link to the video.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Republican New Hope

Is it possible that the Republicans have actually produced a presidential candidate worth supporting? He for real fiscal conservatism, he opposes the Patriot Act, and he wants us out of Iraq. His name's Ron Paul. Here's a clip on youtube, posted on Andrew Sullivan's blog, that covers his debate with Rudy Giuliani:

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thought for the Day-5/12/07

Am I the only one who thinks that our culture has degenerated beyond redemption when Paris Hilton going to jail is a front page story and Kurt Vonnegut dying is virtually ignored?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jalal Talabani

Today, at the Cambridge Union, Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, gave a speech and held a question and answer session. I was lucky enough to get a ticket to this event, and watched the whole affair from a balcony seat.

The security at the event was tight, for obvious reasons. (No suicide bombers allowed.) There were hordes of police officers outside the Union building. Supposedly, many of them were from the Special Branch, which specialises in combatting terrorism. There were metal detectors specially installed outside of the Union which all attendees had to pass through. There were also bag searches by police officers. I saw armed police officers inside the Union, an odd sight in Great Britain outside of airports. Furthermore, I saw at least one person whom I think was one of Talabani's bodyguards, an extremely rough looking Arab man standing outside a room where a luncheon was being held.

Talabani himself was a rather disappointing speaker. He gave the impression of a rather doddering old man, albeit a nice one. His talk was not particularly interesting, as it focused on his political career and was actually difficult to follow for someone who was not already deeply familiar with the history of Iraq, especially Kurdistan. However, it was interesting to learn that this major ally of the United States and the Bush administration cut his political teeth largely in Communist and Marxist organizations. He described visiting places such as the People's Republic of China to gather solidarity for the Kurdish people.

The question and answer session was somewhat more interesting. Some of the questions were rather revealing. For instance, when asked about current American tensions with Iran, President Talabani subtly indicated that Iraq was not eager for the two countries to come to blows, and boasted of Iraq's role in bringing them together at the negotiating table. Other questions, however, just elicited political spiel, as in the claim that Iraq would be able to take over its own security within a year or two, a claim that we started hearing a year or two ago.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A.M. Rabbits

This morning around 9 A.M., as I was walking to some classes at the Seeley Building via the St. John's Paddock (a wooded area within the college) I saw some rabbits grazing in the grass. I have never seen any rabbits here before. My guess would be they only come out early in the morning when there aren't any people around, as they hopped away the minute they noticed me. Indeed, the only reason I suspect they were even out that late was that it was a bank holiday today, and consequently the St. John's ground crew had the day off. Consequently, there were not lawn mowers, wagons, or other implements to scare the rabbits back into their holes.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Radio 3

I have been listening to BBC Radio 3 a lot recently. It is the BBC station dedicated to classical music and, to a much lesser extent, jazz. They have a great selection, not limited to the few mainstay symphonies and overtures that make up many classical repetoires. They sometimes dredge up obscure recordings from the twenties.

The DJs on Radio 3 all appear to have an extensive knowledge of classical music, extending not merely to the composers but also to famous musicians. Often, it is rather difficult for a novice to pick up on all the references they make. It makes me want to learn more about classical music.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Deep Blue

Hi all,

I know it's been a while since I've blogged. I apologise, but it's been incredibly busy.

Last night, I saw a truly excellent movie on DVD, Deep Blue, a documentary about the ocean. The cinematography was truly excellent. They captured schools of fish and other sealife with a beauty and realism that was breathtaking. It was released to theatres, but did not gain much notice because it came out at the same time as March of the Penguins.

Another good point of the film was that it did not have a lot of narration. The filmmakers chose to let their footage speak for itself. Although at times it would have been nice to know exactly what species of fish I was looking at, it was enjoyable just to sit back and look at the different animals.

I highly recommend seeking out the DVD.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


This is a poem I found on Andrew Sullivan's blog. It was written by a soldier currently serving in Iraq, who has chosen to remain anonymous, although I feel he has nothing to be ashamed of, as he has written an excellent poem. The language is rather explicit,but it captures exactly what is going on in Iraq, at least from what I can gather from news reports.


They heard it twice; bombs do that when they crack
across the dunes, a groan chasing a clap
In the desert, where blue eyed boys in armor
listen, pink faced, to the wind and know
It's the sound of someone dying when they
see the truck all mangled on the roadside
The thin man all blown to pieces inside
and, for a heartbeat, feel, because maybe
He was just an old man, driving home but
they see the next bomb with him meant for some
Pot-hole, dead goat, trash pile, old car, young man -
deadly, they know, like their dead friends, and now
They don't shrink from saying to him, "Fucker,"
they say, "The first rule is, fucker, be sure
Where you put the last one, fucker." Laughing
without pity for him who is scattered
Bloody around the boys who die now too
because they aren't repulsed by the sight of
This thing, anymore, that they'll take home, thinking
of the day when they scolded a corpse

[Note: I in no way know the author of this poem, or have any relation to him. If he has any objections to the publication of this poem on this website, just comment on the site or e-mail me, and I will remove it. I just published it because I found it to be so moving.]