Thursday, September 30, 2004

Baby if your blogwatch ever turns you down,
Call me, I will be around,
Just waiting for you.
I don't know what else to do...

Hugo Schwyzer: US soldiers and sex slavery. Powerful.

Oxblog: Update on Afghan elections post.

And on a very different note: Nooooooooooooooo!!!!! (Via E-Pression.)
"THE SCAR OF ODYSSEUS": IN A DARK TIME. First section of new short story. Um... don't know what to say about this. It's about espionage. And stuff. Note well, this story is R-rated at best. This section includes raw language and what I believe they're calling "sexual situations." Later sections will include ditto, only more so, and possibly some fairly severe violence. Anyway, here we have Justin Harlowe and his various neuroses, much good may he do you.

And for something that will only make (grim) sense later, let's hear from John Donne: All other things to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay...

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"AND ANY CHILD CAN WRECK": This is, sort of, a Spenserian-stanza diptych set within my story "Through the Years We All Will Be Together." I like parts of it better than I like the whole. Still, those parts are good enough that I decided to post it. ...If you're wondering, I've written a decent chunk of the first scene of a new story (although "decent" is not an especially appropriate word) and will post it as soon as I have a chance to finish the scene. Anyway, here, some poetry.

[edited in the interests of publication]
IS THAT YOUR REAL MASK?: One of the reasons I'm deeply opposed to the whole notion of "discovering" one's authentic sexuality is that, as far as I can tell, there are countless people out there who don't actually have an "authentic sexuality" anymore. All they (...we) have is damage. Scar tissue is a real part of oneself--it is authentic in the most important senses; that's one of the main themes of my story "Desire." But no one looks to scar tissue to figure out how unharmed flesh ought to look or feel. Better to figure out what you ought to be than what you currently are.

Of course, the other reason I'm so opposed to this authenticity fetish is that I don't rightly know what is supposed to be so wrong about artifice. But that's a very different rant.
OUTSOURCING TORTURE: More at Mark Shea's. "All those discussions of torture on my blog, you see, were not just about some theory. Ideas have consequences. If the Right manages to push this through, they will have earned my contempt. I see no way a Catholic could possibly support such a heinous law." No kidding.
She keeps Moet & Chandon
In her pretty cabinet;
"Let them watch blogs," she says,
Just like Marie Antoinette...

Volokhs a-Go-Go: The mainline Protestant churches on religious freedom: "Overall, criticisms of Israel amounted to 37 percent of the 197 human rights criticisms offered by the churches during those years, only slightly higher than the 32 percent of criticisms leveled at the United States. The remaining 31 percent of criticisms were shared by twenty other nations." Let me know if I have to explain why this sucks.

On a far less important note, E. Volokh is exactly right: Respect the Box.

A blogchild: "My interests, in no particular order save one: Catholicism, liturgical music, choral music, opera, German, Russian, French (gasp! -- but they make wonderful pipe organs), and Tolkien. Not to mention poetry, literature, Southern-ness, etc. etc."

Meet the New Deal, same as the old deal; or, Solidarity forever, the union makes them strong--Reason book review on the New Deal's effect on black workers. I note that I have exactly no expertise here. Still, fascinating piece... with bonus Chicago Defender cartoon! Via Hit & Run.

Marriage Savers in Virginia. Yay! Via Dappled Things.

In other news, Jim Henley has made me rediscover a CD I already had, Elvis Costello's All This Useless Beauty, and I am grateful.

Fastidious and precise...
"No old regime is merely oppressive; it is attractive, too, else the escape from it would be much easier than it is."
--Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution

Monday, September 27, 2004

AM ADDING Intel Dump to the blogroll. Tired of clicking over from Oxblog.
VAST MUSHROOMS: You know this is the kind of thing that gets me up in the morning. (Afternoon. Whatever.)

"The Swiss fungus is considerably smaller than another Honey Mushroom growing in the US.

"Found in the Malheur national forest in Oregon, that fungus covers 890 hectares (2,200 acres)--making it the largest living organism ever discovered."

and it's edible!

Via Dappled Things.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

EMAIL: If you emailed me in the past WEEK (grr), and it bounced, please re-send. Very sorry. I don't know what's wrong and am, honestly, not sure it's fixed yet. So I guess, keep trying until you get through, or, if it's urgent, call me.
And I look down for another all-night keychain,
'Cause it feels more like a blogwatch every day...

LAMLand: Liturgical bloopers, aka "My acolyte said to your acolyte, 'I'm gonna set this priest on fire!'" Via Dappled Things.

Yale Herald interview with Brian "Gay Ranger" Hughes. I can't believe this is the only piece I've seen that actually engages with the arguments for the military ban; and Brian answers those arguments ably. Kudos to the Herald and to interviewer Therese Lim.

Jonetta Rose Barras, always worth reading, has a great piece on Marion "Rock the Vote" Barry.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

QUEEN OF THE SMALL SCREEN: I keep seeing where Netflix is making extravagant offers to new subscribers and people trying out their service. This suggests to me that they may be struggling financially. I will cry if Netflix fails, so I feel I must bring it to your attention. Netflix is a wonderful service for people who love movies.

Take me. I live in downtown DC, a relatively metropolitan area. When I signed up for Netflix I had already scoured the local Blockbuster and the local "indie pictures and gay porn" creepy movie den. I'd learned exactly how many movies you just can't get at the video store.

Netflix, on the other hand, has just about everything. If it's on DVD, they've probably got it. I have Uzumaki in my queue. I have The Rook there. I have more silent Hitchcock than I can shake a stick at. It's a candy store for film freaks.

And it's fast. If I send back a movie on Monday, I have a new movie on Wednesday. It's efficient. I changed my financial information after I'd already signed up for the service, and within ten minutes the transaction was complete and my account had been fixed. It's exceptionally easy to deal with--I've never had a problem. It's only $22/month, which, given that you can get all kinds of movies you can't get locally, is phenomenal.

I've found terrific movies through Netflix. The Conversation is the most recent five-star winner. But I've also seen lame movies I would have paid a lot of money to buy or rent, because their reputations outpaced their performance! Because of Netflix, I learned that The Vanishing is just a slow, broody serial-killer flick, rather than something powerful and new. Because of Netflix, I realized that although I could watch Edward G. Robinson all day every day, I don't actually need a copy of Key Largo. (No, it's good--it's just not, you know, that good.)

Basically, if you have a voracious appetite for the flicks, Netflix is terrific. Tonight I hope to watch Knife in the Water, which just arrived in the mailbox. Truly, this is Toast By Post.
AMERICAN DREAM: A bunch of links about Jason DeParle's new book on poverty and welfare reform, which I'm hoping to read soon. I note that I have not read all of these links yet. But DeParle has seriously impressed me and I am very much looking forward to reading his book. (Hey, do you work for a publication that pays for stuff? Do you want a review? Guess what I can do for you!)

Anyway: Brookings Inst. panel on J DeP's book.

Mickey Kaus, who likes the new book, critiques an earlier JDeP welfare piece.

Family Scholars with excellent book excerpt.
"SHUT UP," HE EXPLAINED: Excellent Jonathan Rauch piece on campaign finance reform a.k.a. political speech regulations:

"Now it is official: The United States of America has a federal bureaucracy in charge of deciding who can say what about politicians during campaign season. We can argue, and people do, about whether this state of affairs is good or bad, better or worse than some alternative. What is inarguable is that America now has what amounts to a federal speech code, enforced with jail terms of up to five years.

"The law now circumscribes the most important of all civil rights: the right to criticize politicians.

"An exaggeration? Judge for yourself. Consider the sorts of cases the Federal Election Commission now finds itself deciding...."


Via Hit & Run, I think.
This never was one of the great blogwatches,
But I thought you'd always have those young girl's eyes...

Get Religion: God and the hurricanes.

Lileks: Geekiest Bleat ever... focusing on the music and the glory of one of the very, very, very few episodes of Star Trek (The Original Series, a.k.a. The Only Real Trek) I have never seen. I am consumed by geekness and must watch episode now! Help me, Netflix-Wan--you're my only hope! (Via The Corner.)

Oxblog: Extremely important post on Afghan elections, from a foreign correspondent.

Unqualified Offerings: Elvis Costello = Philip Larkin. Hrm. I'm willing to buy this, actually, if you read Larkin's relentless grimth as his own version of Costello's self-conscious, defensively ironic punning. Anyway, both men are brilliant, and I am definitely planning to buy EC's latest, per Jim's recommendation. My thought is that EC is more intelligent, though PL was more attuned to real-world, concrete textures and details.

Jewsweek interviews Henry Hill, a.k.a. that guy from "Goodfellas," about his Jewish reawakening. Via Relapsed Catholic.

"Breaking Vows: When Faithful Catholics Divorce," via Dappled Things.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

AN AMERICAN MAN: Jonathan Yardley reviews bios of Johnny Cash. Via Bookslut.
Wanna go to Spain!
Spend nights
Just sippin' on blogwatch and ice...

Church of the Masses: How bad metaphysics is killing the romantic comedy.

Oxblog: NYC protest Saturday for a free Iran. And a world news roundup, all stuff I haven't seen elsewhere.

Sed Contra: The Last Days of Lance Loud. Moving.

"Adopt a Chaldean Catholic Priest in Iraq": Via Mark Shea.

Even Aphrodite, she got nothin' on me...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

BUT WHERE ARE THE SCRIMMETTES?: Unusual Names for Female Teams. Very fun stuff, via E-Pression. (I guess technically the Scrimmettes were a music group, though. Ah well.)
BESLAN: Incredibly moving story of heroism, via Mark Shea.

Russian Children's Welfare Society Beslan Relief Fund, via The Corner.

Monday, September 20, 2004

FLAMING BEACON OF HOPE: More on His Royal Highness Brian Alan Brooks Hughes. And "don't ask don't tell."
NEW REPORT ON FULL SCOPE OF BRITISH EUTHANASIA. "But a spokeswoman for the ProLife party said: 'Surely the response of a compassionate society is to alleviate the pain, to love and comfort the patient, and to try and restore a sense of self-worth until death comes naturally.'"

The article also features an interesting use of the term "non-volunteers." Via Mark Shea.
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW (if by "the world" you mean me): "The creator of one of the world's most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, launched another weapon in Britain Monday -- Kalashnikov vodka.

"Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the AK-47 after being shot by German soldiers during World War II, said he wanted to continue 'the good name' of his gun.

"...'So we decided to create a vodka under my name.'"

via E-Pression.
FICTION-NESS: Novelist Krubner asks, "When you mention your fiction on your weblog you often introduce it by saying that it is still a little rough. I'm curious if you go back and edit your fiction, and if so, are the edited versions published somewhere else, or do you keep them offline (perhaps for copyright reasons)? I've enjoyed reading the somewhat early drafts of your fiction, though I'm wondering when we'll get to see what you yourself consider a finely polished and well-edited version of some of your stories. And given how much a work can change from first to last draft, it would be interesting to go back and re-read one of your stories again when it's done.

"If you don't mind me asking, what's the long range plan as regards your fiction? Are you in a mental space right now where you find it easier to create rough drafts than to edit final drafts, or have you been putting out final drafts and I just missed the announcements?"

Well, my ego has been stroked today! Anyway... I often do a bit of spot-check editing soon after I post fiction segments. For example, if you read the last section of "I Count Only Sunny Hours" (the story at the top of my storyblog right now) when I posted it, you should know that I cleared out some of the overwriting and fixed an egregious pediatric/podiatric error. (I am so smart, S-M-R-T.)

More serious revision is coming later. My current plan is to do rough drafts until November 1. At that point I will start serious revisions, getting stories ready for real publication--and no, I won't be posting the revised versions online prior to publication. (Sorry, blogosphere, you are not as real as paper and ink.) I plan to start sending revised stories out for publication after the New Year. This admittedly odd and obsessive schedule is the result of my personal wigness, as well as the fact that my reinvigorated ability to write snuck up on me last year; it took me a while to adjust to the fact that, yes, I was writing again.

Some stories won't change much, I think--"Better At It," for example (the one with the aliens)--whereas elegant messes like "Getting Fired," "Kissable Pictures," and "Ship Comes In" will definitely be getting a full makeover. "GF" has an entire subplot you guys haven't seen yet, as well as many dropped narrative threads and continuity errors that will be dealt with in the revised version. "KP" needs many small-to-medium changes, as well as one major one--a whole new scene. "SCI" just needs a fixin', and I am still working out what to do with it, though I am confident it will be good eventually. I should note that readers' comments have been incredibly helpful as I work out how to revise stories, so I'd love it if you kept 'em coming!

While I'm revising, I will be posting fun little snippets from a deeply strange and cool writing exercise I found online. Won't tell you what it is yet! But be assured that there will still be original Eve fiction posted from November through January, even though it will be much shorter than usual, and decidedly bizarre.

So that's the plan. In case you cared.
ECSTASY AND IRONY, SIDE BY SIDE ON MY PIANO KEYS...: Excellent point from Kathy Shaidle of Relapsed Catholic. Wish I'd written this:

"...The 'ironic' religious impulse in works like these, by people like these, often hides a genuine thirst for God. You should read some of my early poems and short stories. Today I'm a Contributing Editor for the Catholic Register whose been interviewed by Vatican Radio.

"So by all means express your feelings about this guy's art. But do consider stepping back and letting God work as He will. As you may have noticed, His sense of humour is not necessarily our sense of humour."

JIM HENLEY IS BACK from hiatus. You should be reading him. Fearless antiwar libertarian commentary, and maybe later some comics.

That is all.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

HE ASKS, HE TELLS: (Sorry, Kaus.) A good friend, and gin-u-wine war hero, will be in town Tuesday speaking on perhaps the one contemporary Gay Issue where we actually agree: the military's unrealistic (maybe if we clap our hands real loud, all the fairies will disappear!) and damaging policy. Here's the information (I love how a dashing rescuer is only a slightly bigger draw than free pizza...):

"GAYS AND LESBIANS AT WAR: Military Service in Iraq and Afghanistan Under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'"


Featuring a gay Army Ranger who was on the team that rescued POW Private Jessica Lynch


Your staff is invited to a luncheon briefing on Tuesday, September 21 at 12:00 2203 Rayburn House Office Bldg. on the release of the long-awaited study on gay and lesbian soldiers who have served with honor and distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq. We hope you and your office colleagues can join us.

FEATURED PRESENTERS: Nathaniel Frank, research fellow at the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will present his study--"Gays and Lesbians at War"--at the luncheon. Frank is a nationally published researcher and commentator on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, whose work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and The New Republic.

Brian Hughes was a gay Army Ranger who was part of the task force that rescued Private Jessica Lynch, a POW during the combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Ranger regiment is an elite infantry unit of the Army, which is part of the Special Operations Command. Hughes took time off from Yale University to join the Army in August of 2000, where he became an E5 Seargent (NCO). In the fall of 2002, Hughes was deployed to Afghanistan where he did search patrols for personnel and weapons. He then cycled into Iraq for the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he participated in the Lynch rescue. He returned to Afghanistan in the Spring of 2004 and then separated from the Army on August 30, 2004.

RADM Alan M. Steinman, USPHS/USCG (Ret.), is one of the highest-ranking officers of the U.S. military to come out as openly gay. In December 2003, Steinman joined two retired Generals in coming out to a New York Times reporter, adding his view that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy damages military readiness. Rear Admiral Steinman retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1997 as the Coast Guard's Director of Health and Safety (equivalent to the position of Surgeon General in the other branches of the military).

Patrick Guerriero, is President of the Liberty Education Forum, a Washington, DC based think tank that conducts research and educates people on a range of issues affecting gay and lesbian Americans, including the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Guerriero will make remarks on the study's significance and the status of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

We invite you to attend this staff briefing to have access to the latest expert information on a critical topic facing our country. The challenges facing the U.S. military as it fights a war on terror are numerous, and this study sheds new light on how the current military mission and the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy are on a collision course. We hope your staff can join us.

In order to ensure we have adequate food and space, we ask that you RSVP no later than 10:00am the day of the briefing by contacting me at 202-329-7928 or you can RSVP via email at A reminder will be sent out.

If you have any questions regarding the briefing, please contact me at the phone number or email listed above as well.

Washington Representative, CSSMM
"I COUNT ONLY SUNNY HOURS": TOUCH AND GO. The last section of the psychics story. This took a lot longer than I expected, and I'm not sure it was worth it. Last week I was completely convinced this story was a waste of time--something done better by others--but now I think it might actually be really good, and doing what I want it to do, and doing its thing better than others have done it. (I don't mind doing something that's been done before as long as my version is better. If you follow any art form or genre you quickly learn that the first artist to use some plot, trope, or formal structure is not always the best.)

Anyway, the story from the beginning can be found here (it's short), or the most recent section here.

Revision: I already know I'm switching from present to past tense. It was much easier to write in present, at least at first, but there's no thematic or logical reason to write in present (unlike with "Getting Fired"), and switching to past wouldn't spoil any of the bits I like (unlike with "A Separated Soul").

Questions: Is what I'm doing too opaque? Or too transparent?? I've lived with this story so long I really can't tell the difference. Do you get what I'm doing here? Do you think it's blatantly obvious and boring? Or do you read the piece and think, "A what'n Ah say a what'n is goin' on heah?"

The ending is supposed to be abrupt. But is it stupidly abrupt?

How much more backstory on the lady psychic do you want? Within the story as written, you don't even get her name (Lisette, if you care), whereas I know a lot about her, from her parents' religion (Episcopalian) to her commercial shtik (bayou) to her actual place of origin (Orange County, CA). Do you want that stuff in the story? I do, and I'm trying to figure out how to get it in there, which is why I don't mind telling you about it.

How much more backstory on the guy psychic do you want? You have his name, but only a rough estimate of his age; no sense of where he's from, or how he found Lisette, or his background other than that he probably doesn't have much money. I know most of that stuff but want to know what is essential and what is skippable.

Any other complaints, comments, questions? I'm deeply unsatisfied with this story, so I welcome absolutely anything you have to say about it (including very brief stuff like "Eh, this didn't work for me"). Last week I wouldn't've bothered asking detailed questions, but now I do think it's fixable and could be quite good if I worked at it.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

LOCKED UP TOO TIGHT: From the Washington Post. Excerpt: Guards moved young inmates around the prison on a leash. To control youths who disobeyed orders, guards would sometimes don riot gear and use "pepper spray" -- tear gas mixed with cayenne pepper. At other times, groups of guards surrounded young inmates and handcuffed them by their wrists and ankles to the four corners of their beds. Young prisoners were held in isolation cells for weeks at a time. This mistreatment went on for more than a year, occurred regularly in the lockdown area of the prison, and involved more than 100 young people.This abuse did not occur thousands of miles away at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but here at South Dakota's Juvenile Training School in Plankinton, where an investigation of the death of a 14-year-old girl in 1999 eventually uncovered a widespread pattern of cruel behavior, much of it later documented in a federal lawsuit brought by the Youth Law Center. The girl, who was in a boot camp program at Plankinton, had died of heat exhaustion after a forced run.

much more; please read.

Friday, September 17, 2004

MORE ON "NOCHNOI DOZOR": Maureen, the Suburban Banshee (I'm getting a kind of Siouxsie Sioux meets Harry Potter vibe there), writes in re the movie discussed here:

You wrote: "sounds interesting..."

It is. And I'm sorry I didn't give a real good description of how much fun it is, as well as being serious. Nothing like a magic truck speeding through the streets of Moscow!

The original book is really good, too, at least as far as I've gotten. Man, if I had just paid more attention in Russian class...or if we'd had science fiction and fantasy to read for class...sigh.

I do find it amusing that the original book cover shows this scene in a way which emphasizes its high fantasy aspects, while the movie portrayed it in as noir a way as it could get away with. (Big emphasis on the TV antennas everywhere on that apartment house roof, for example, and the shapeshifters were shown in human shape, possibly for budget reasons.)

But they both work for me.

If you can get to a store that carries Russian import DVDs, you can buy your own copy of Nochnoi Dozor (with pretty reasonable English subtitles, really. Better than Taiwan DVDs do.) I don't live in aRussian-heavy area, so I gave up and ordered it through Apparently there are even cheaper places out there.

Also, Fox Searchlight is going to be distributing Nochnoi Dozor and its immediate sequel Dnevnoi Dozor (coming out in January) to theaters in the US, and then will be co-producing the third one.
WHAT DO THEY DO WITH THE EMBRYOS?: From the Associated Press, via Amy Welborn. Excerpts:

In a survey believed to be the first of its kind, 217 in vitro fertilization clinics across the country described the variety of methods they use to dispose of the frozen clusters of cells, which are the size of a dot and incapable of living outside a mother's womb.

The reverence that some clinics gave to the task surprised researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Rutgers University.

Seven clinics said they performed a quasi-religious ceremony, including a prayer, for each embryo they destroyed.

Seven others took the technically unnecessary step of culturing the cells in a lab dish, then allowing them to multiply on their own, briefly, before they perish--a procedure that gives nature the final role in determining the embryos' fate.

Four insisted that, whatever method was chosen for disposal, the patient be present when it happens. Others barred them from being in the room, or recommended that they be uninvolved in the process.

Four clinics said they gave the thawed embryos back to their clients. ...

Seven clinics, or about three percent of all that participated in the study, said that because of religious or ethical concerns, they would not create more embryos than they intended to implant, and thus had no cells to freeze or destroy.

whole thing

Thursday, September 16, 2004

BATTLE OF THE BOOKS: Rick Brookhiser reignites the Eliot Wars--in this case, Eliot vs. Auden. He's on the right side, but... what a weird title bout. I really love Auden. I love his surreal fleshcreepers. I love his journalistic ear for the clean, memorable, "why didn't I think of that?" summary phrase ("human on my faithless arm," "Children afraid of the dark/Who have never been happy or good," probably most of the Auden you remember). I would love to see the New York Post with headlines by Auden. And there's a First Things piece on Auden here that's more than worth your time.

But honestly, do people really think he was better than Eliot? Eliot is a ferocious, ambivalent, wrecked and corroded and shifty poet, who can make any broken rhythm sing. Eliot is subjunctive where Auden is first-person present, tense and uncertain where Auden is alternately passionate and over-easy, sensual and concrete where Auden occasionally retreats into abstraction. Was it Harold Bloom who called Eliot and Milton the greatest poets of women's hair?

(It's a bit bizarre that, looking over that paragraph, I see that many of the flaws I find in my much-loved Auden are often attributed to Eliot. He has this weird schoolmistress reputation which I can only assume is due to his essays, or something. It's certainly not warranted by that shattered and shattering, coiling and ensnaring poetry.)

Anyway, Brookhiser says this, with which I agree although I'd be a lot less harsh on Auden: "Eliot has an extremism of technique that marks him as a Yank, even when it manifests itself in his efforts to impersonate a donnish TLS contributor. Auden, when he lets his guard down, has a fussy cuteness which is found only among some Englishmen" (my emphasis of course).

In other Brookhiser poetry news, Emily Dickinson is quite obviously the best non-epic poet the Western world has yet produced, and Whitman and Emerson should have been muzzled at puberty. Thank you, come again.
I am a seeker,
And you are a teacher;
You are a blogwatch, so watch blogs...

After Abortion: Russian science-fiction movie with abortion theme--sounds interesting, wonder if I'll ever get a chance to see it....

Family Scholars: "Meanwhile, she wonders how to convince her 'wise-beyond-her-years 7 year old daughter' that she 'doesn't have to protect her parents, that she's allowed to proclaim her love for one to the other without rapidly assuring the parent she's talking to that she loves him or her just as much....'" (more)

Peiratikos: "After all, what made being a teenager (and, ok, sometimes being me now) so painful was not that everyone else was phony but that they were phony and still managed to be more authentic than I was."

The Rat: A wilderness of monkeys. And more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

MOCKUMENTARY: Wow, an egregious story of media deception and story-twisting from Church of the Masses: "...Some of you will have read the NY Times article or seen the documentary last night on AMC. Turns out, the doc wasn't on Religion in Hollywood at all, but rather on Republicans in Hollywood. After 30 minutes of stuff about Arnold and Charles Heston and the five young Republicans at a cocktail party, the doc segues into the Act One section. The implication clearly is that, if you are a committed Christian, you must also be a Republican.

"The doc also interviewed Patty Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and made the same implicit connection by doing so. I've been at events with Patty where she has clearly identified herself as a Democrat. She said at UCLA, 'Because I am pro-life, very often I have to hold my nose and vote Republican.' The doc also incorrectly id'ed Patty as being the 'Founder of Feminists for Life.' She isn't.

"So, we're annoyed this morning at having been duped. I would never have allowed Mr. Moss access to Act One if he had been upfront that his project was about politics. Act One is absolutely non-partisan. I will, no doubt, spend the day, answering queries from faculty and friends and alumni, assuring them that Act One isn't part of the Republican insurgency in the industry."


Monday, September 13, 2004

FICTION AS PRAXIS: Was thinking the other night about the odd perceived dichotomy between philosophy and fiction, or philosophy and art more generally. I blame Plato (despite my general Plato fangirlness). It seems obvious to me that although some practicioners of fiction may operate primarily by intuition (just as IMO Nietzsche, in his aphoristic moods, operated primarily by intuition), in general fiction is both an act of philosophy and part of the foundation of philosophy.

It's an act of philosophy because so much of fiction is about credibility. We've all heard the cliche that "truth is stranger than fiction," and I expect most authors have been frustrated to realize that we just can't write stories in which things happen the way they really did happen! because it would appear too coincidental and too neat. Fiction is not about presenting the raw world. Life does that for us. Fiction is supposed to tease out some kind of language from the raw world. Fiction is meant neither to replace nor to mirror life, but rather to interpret it.

In order to do that, fiction writers must have some sense of cause and effect. If thing X is true about the world I'm describing, what else logically follows? Intuition often helps here, but it should be ditched if it conflicts with the story's internal logic. To take a trivial example, in "I Count Only Sunny Hours" one character has deeply satisfying, harmonic psychic experiences when she touches people. She also has a fairly promiscuous sexual history. I didn't connect the two until after I'd worked out the story's midsection. Now I know that she slept with men in large part because she hoped for that intense psychic connection. If my intuitive sense about her past history had not hooked up with the story's basic setup, I would have had to figure out why I thought she'd slept around. If my intuition had no hook into the story's internal philosophy, there would be no point in including it. And, more importantly, if I thought the internal philosophy of my fictional world had no connection to the world through which I in fact move, I would have no reason to write the dratted story, and should ditch it and write something else. All science fiction and all fantasy and all horror and all bildungsroman and all good fiction generally is about the unsatisfying, ragged, halfhearted, doubletongued and doubting world in which we move and have our being.

And so fiction is no substitute for philosophy; but also, vice versa, since fiction provokes recognition (yes, this is the world I see!) and without recognition there is no philosophy at all.
TABLOID AS GENRE: I'm noticing now a connection that should, perhaps, have been obvious, between my defense of tabloid journalism as vs the complacent "objectivity" of the newspapers of record and my defense of genre fiction as vs the complacent assumptions of "realist" fiction. Those of us who believe that reality, such as it is, is misrepresented by contemporary arbiters of soi-disant objective news and realist fiction, might perhaps prefer those who know that when they tell the truth they will have to "tell it slant."

Ouch, I can't believe I said "soi-disant." I drink bottled water, too. Feel free to despise me!
ISLANDS IN THE NET: Has anyone written on whether and how digital paper will change our easy assumptions about "the mainstream media" vs "the blogosphere"? Thanks.
AN AGE LIKE THIS: 1) "Can Islam Change?": "...Since 9/11, there has been a seismic shift in this perception. More and more Muslims now perceive Islamic law to be dangerously obsolete. And these include the ulema, the religious scholars and clerics, who have a tremendous hold on the minds of the Muslim masses."

Via Hit & Run.

2) "Now They Want to Euthanize Children." "FIRST, Dutch euthanasia advocates said that patient killing will be limited to the competent, terminally ill who ask for it. Then, when doctors began euthanizing patients who clearly were not terminally ill, sweat not, they soothed: medicalized killing will be limited to competent people with incurable illnesses or disabilities. Then, when doctors began killing patients who were depressed but not physically ill, not to worry, they told us: only competent depressed people whose desire to commit suicide is 'rational' will have their deaths facilitated. Then, when doctors began killing incompetent people, such as those with Alzheimer's, it's all under control, they crooned: non-voluntary killing will be limited to patients who would have asked for it if they were competent.

"And now they want to euthanize children. ...

"Why does accepting euthanasia as a remedy for suffering in very limited circumstances inevitably lead to never-ending expansion of the killing license? Blame the radically altered mindset that results when killing is redefined from a moral wrong into a beneficent and legal act. If killing is right for, say the adult cancer patient, why shouldn't it be just as right for the disabled quadriplegic, the suicidal mother whose children have been killed in an accident, or the infant born with profound mental retardation?"

Via NPM.

3) "'Ghost detainees' number up to 100." US in violation of Geneva Conventions. This article doesn't mention something I've seen in other reports: Rumsfeld signed off on at least one of these violations.

Via Dappled Things.

4) "The military's mess at Guantanamo and how to fix it." Stuart Taylor, via How Appealing.

All very much worth your time.
And a question of blog is a question of watch...

Agenda Bender: Traffic with terrorists and get teased. Useful and slightly wiggy.

Get Religion: More on religion and the Beslan massacre.

Otto-da-Fe: If you want a break from the news above, you might help Otto concoct a "Tweed Avalanche." Mixologists needed.

Friday, September 10, 2004

WHY STORIES DIE: INVESTIGATING SELF-CENSORSHIP IN THE MEDIA: Via Hit & Run I see notice of this really interesting event, which I'll definitely try to attend:

Why Stories Die: Investigating Self-Censorship in the Media
The Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St., NW
Washington, DC

WHAT:A free-for-all discussion about the reasons why worthy articles all too often end up on the editorial scrapheap. Veteran reporters and editors on the panel will examine the decision-making process that determines what you can read and what you can't. Wine and cheese to follow. Participants: Nick Gillespie of Reason, David Wallis, editor of Killed: Great Journalism Too Hot to Print, Jodie T. Allen of US News & World Report, Mark Feldstein of George Washington University, and Ben Scott of Free Press.

WHEN: Wednesday Sept. 15, 2004, 7 PM

WHERE: The Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St., NW, Washington, DC
This event is free and there is no need to RSVP. Seats are limited and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
"I COUNT ONLY SUNNY HOURS": FIRST TIMES. Exposit, exposit, exposit. I think the info has been dumped at this point. One short scene left and then this wretched story will be out of my brain.

Oh, right: It's about psychics who see, like, different stuff.

Feel the enthusiasm radiating off me. Click here for the story so far, here for the most recent section.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

ON THE INTERNET, NO ONE CAN TELL YOU'RE A DOG: Search requests that brought people to this messy little blog:

interesting [from Google Canada!]
how does filet mignon digest completely in the human body
international fame notoriety
how to do the moves to elephant man sons example helicopter

hungry governmentation [Googlewhack!]
how to draw scenes to paint on vertical blinds
japanese vs. catfight

pictures of crabs in a barrel
typical american personality
how can philosophy reform criminals by erasing their memories [um, no.]
huge talking mantis [huge?]
uo doom rare lamppost
country song prostitute Bible bus crash blood
bolivian giant sloth with man
eerily insanity bold adultery poem poetry
salley forth comics xxx [nice, now I must SCRUB MY BRAIN]
definition of blank acceptance
overman is coming
Intense! Brookhiser
those born to divine destiny emotional illnesses woman 46 love slave does true love save her
bad parenting mama duck
what is the inherent contradiction of punk rock porn
souls trapped in my walls faces and images on wood panelling become three dimintional
emotional intimacy crash course
"'AS YOU KNOW, BOB...': THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF INFODUMPS IN WRITING." Most writing-about-writing does nothing for me, but I found this report (on a panel at a sci-fi convention) very helpful. Includes Teresa Nielsen Hayden!

I really needed this right now, by the way, since I'm struggling mightily with the midsection of "I Count Only Sunny Hours," which is all exposition all the time, sigh. It would be easier if I hadn't decided the story itself is stupid. Can't wait to kill it off and move on to the next one, which will probably be about two people in a snowbound airport.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

MARRIAGEDEBATE MANIA! New question of the week, plus possible future QOTW's. Future possible questions (obviously meant more to spur discussion than to provoke quick yes-or-no answers): What shouldn't you do outside of wedlock?

Who are a child's parents?

"Marriage will help tame gay men." True, false, insulting, irrelevant?

Why don't you suggest some too? Drop me a line at

This week's question: "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage..."

Any contemporary discussion of marriage is quickly going to become also a debate about love. Is love the core of marriage?

If so, what kind of love are we talking about here? Historically eros, for example, was considered more a threat and a rival to marriage than a justification for it or an intrinsic part of it. Has that changed? How should we view the connection between eros, marriage, and responsibility? (In college, a romantically-minded friend argued that marriage was inherently anti-romantic because it sought to bind the beloved to oneself, fettering the beloved's autonomy and bringing the ugly machinery of society and state into affairs of the heart. Was he on to something?)

more here
HORROR IN RUSSIA: I can't read most news reports of the atrocities committed in Beslan. I just can't. Even small details like the one Elizabeth Marquardt mentions here make me incoherent and weepy. Here are a few links I've been able to get through, though:
At the Yale Free Press blog, Yevgeny Vilensky speculates on the ethnic/religious conflicts in the region of Russia where the massacre took place.

GetReligion looks at the religious aspects.

I note that I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS ORGANIZATION, but MoscowHelp is the only link I've seen so far for people who wish to give aid to the families and survivors.

...Perhaps the Senate Armed Services Committee can further resolve the issue of responsibility when it holds its hearing this week to receive testimony on the Schlesinger report, as well as on a report released in August by the Army investigating detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib. Specifically:
• Did either the Schlesinger or Army investigations interview officials in the White House or at the Justice Department regarding the February or August 2002 memos relating to the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture?
• What role did White House or Justice Department officials play in development of the memos on interrogation techniques signed by Rumsfeld in December 2002, January 2003 and April 2003? ...

• Did guidance from the White House and the Justice Department with respect to the Geneva Conventions and the definition of torture in 2002 contribute to the chain of events in the Department of Defense and military command in Iraq leading to the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

Beyond the issue of responsibility for Abu Ghraib, the Senate should explore with the Schlesinger panel whether the administration's policy -- that the war on terrorism excuses the United States from some of the limitations stipulated by the Geneva Conventions -- creates a dangerous double standard. Many believe the administration's position undercuts a number of international accords (beyond Geneva) reached under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush making clear that certain acts -- torture, hostage-taking, attacks on domestic airlines -- are so reprehensible that they are unjustified for any reason.

Used to be his blogwatch, now you're not the only one...

Telford Work: "Every literary genre comes with conventions and expectations: documentary, reporting, commentary, preaching, etc. Journalistic conviction and practice are increasingly incompatible with the conventions and expectations of its traditional genres.

"The problem is that editors and reporters are letting go of their old (false) notions of objectivity and balance without properly embracing the virtues of trust, fairness, honesty, and humility that are proper to [the] genre of news reporting, and which keep subjectivity and conviction from metastasizing into dominance and arrogance."

whole thing

Young and married? Why not take this survey about marital advice and premarital counseling? (Via After Abortion.)

"The Day Before": Good Washington Post piece on the last day of the 1990s: Sept. 10, 2001. Starts out cliched, last para. returns to well-trodden ground, but in between there's a lot of fascinating stuff.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

AS LONG AS I'M SCRATCHING AT PATRICK BELTON'S INTERVIEW, I should note that I could not agree with this statement more: "The reason that we have got a superficial politics in this country is that we've got a superficial press."
HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BLOG: Yale's Finest Publication ("Above the Law... Beyond Good and Evil... And Somewhere to the Right of Attila the Hun") has a pretty groovy interview with Patrick Belton of Oxblog. I encourage you all to go read it. Then go give the YFP money for booze!--I mean, for Indian food. Yes. Right.

Anyway! I had a couple comments--about theology, and the tabloid press. (Note that this post also wins the "Desperate...But Not Sirius" award for Least Justifiable Harry Potter Reference in Philosophical Debate. I want a prize.)

Patrick starts out strong, cursing the darkness of the Enlightenment: "Blogs restore a personal voice to journalism comparatively absent since the Victorian period--though it still persists in some arenas, particularly in the more conservative British press. When American newspapers adopted their contemporary form in the 1950s, they imbibed that decade's prevailing philosophy of knowledge. The epistemology of Karl Popper and positivism were in the air, and newspapers consequently began to assume that unique, authoritative representations of reality were possible, through the proper application of correct methodology. The presence of individual journalists was somewhat an embarrassment, though someone had to be there to apply the methodology.

"This meant newspapers had to treat other newspapers with something of the disdain with which you would treat a mildly distasteful neighbor. It represents an assault on the entire enterprise that there could be different, competing interpretations, each claiming authoritative status. Meanwhile we witnessed the gradual disappearance of the 'I' from reporting and its subversion into the unsituated speech of page one and the editorial page’s quasi-sovereign 'we,' with all its affectations of power."

Here I am purring my philosophical purr. But then Patrick cruelly disappoints! He busts out the Habermas! And children everywhere gasp in terror:

"Within the past twenty years, we have seen figures such as Jurgen Habermas trying to resuscitate and defend the promise of modernity and Enlightenment against its post-modern critiques. This, for Habermas, was done rather by grounding truth in conversations among individuals, 'I's, who might share their perspectives with one another, challenging each other to articulate, then defend or rebut, their tacit assumptions--with truth and the promise of progress coming out of this running conversation of humankind, centered precisely on individual voices, in dialogue to form a quite different 'we.'

"This notion of inter-subjectivity captures what happens in blogs, where you have individual voices engaging with each other not in vitriol but in discourse. It comes quite close to justifying the project of Enlightenment and modernity, with their possibility of democratic governance, if a discourse of rational expression and communication can arrive at truth. The analogy I have been contemplating lately is scientific discussion. In science as actually practiced, you don't have these authoritative representations stripped clean of individuals who assert them, but rather an enormous number of individuals holding a running conversation, in scholarly journals and conferences, in which the defining marker of the prose style is, indeed, the name of the speaker followed by the moment of the utterance: Feygin (2004), for instance. This seems fairly coherent with the model which structures the blogosphere, the first unique and new prose style produced by our cultural moment."

There is, of course, a truth lurking here. The greater interactivity blogs provide does make it possible to correct errors, if you want to and you agree you were wrong, and hyperlinks are genuinely important in allowing people to determine whether a writer has accurately characterized documents to which she refers. The tech matters, and its interactivity--its throng nature--is part of how it matters.

But if Habermas-via-Belton is right... why doesn't Oxblog have comments boxes? I know why I don't: Cacophony isn't chorus.

Moreover, a bunch of voices yammering is only as good as the culture(s) from which they spring. Truth is not reputation (pace Richard Rorty); there are market failures in the marketplace of ideas. Or (D...BNS warning!) to quote a certain greasy-haired, wonderfully horrible professor, "Fame... isn't... everything."

Those of us who uphold the reality and validity of reason (which as a Catholic I of course do) must come up with some way of distinguishing reason from conformity to culturally-defined "common sense." Or at least understanding how reason could be distinguished from cultural conformity. This strikes me as the great problem, the atheist's Gordian knot, that can only be sliced through by Divine communication, by God's shaping of our natures, our languages, and our abilities to reason and discern. The crowd is interesting and sometimes useful, but very far from the essential project of regrounding reason on a non-complacent foundation--rescuing reason from the Enlightenment rationalists. That project can only succeed as a religious project based in belief in a personal (and meddlesome!) God. Of which more here.

No, what I think Patrick gets more right than this somewhat placid invoking of the crowd is his focus on the way blogging emphasizes the person behind the pen. I've said this all kinds of times. Blogs, when they're doing what they should (and what they almost always, in fact, do), display a passionate response to the world: a response where politics and philosophy make up part of the fabric of daily life, where loyalties are declared and challenges thrown down, where people don't just "opine" but growl and mull and yell and meander.

Blogs are a form of tabloid journalism; and I really, really believe in tabloid journalism. The world, as it presents itself to us, demands a passionate and personal response. Received Standard Journalism, with its assumption of Enlightenment-esque uncontested objectivity and rationality, generally ends up (like Enlightenment philosophy; I can't remember who said, "Descartes knew only that he thought--and that he spoke French," but it's one of the most insightful philosophical one-liners ever) in purely reactive conformity. Tabloid journalism pushes a particular worldview, and knows it, and can have fun with it. Tabloid journalism can get in there and start punching in good conscience, without getting missish and sniffy like the New York Times. Tabloid journalism has a range of vocal tones, accents, and moods, not just a magisterial basso profundo. (Wow, mixed metaphor alert. Apparently the NYT is missish in an unusually low voice.)

Tabloid journalism often gets the world wrong. But Received Standard Journalism, as Patrick accurately describes it, simply can't get the world right.

For closing lines I'll steal from the speech I gave Edward G. Peeler of the New York Beacon: "The Beacon is a tabloid. I believe in tabloid journalism. Big black headlines, if it bleeds it leads, 'Headless Body in Topless Bar.' The Beacon glares out on a lurid world, Mr. Ware. We like our news black and white and red all over. ...But we tell the truth."

Friday, September 03, 2004

THREE MORE IRAQ LINKS: US Mistakes in Iraq, what you'd expect it to be, from the guy who writes Glimpse of Iraq and Iraqi Letter to America; the same guy also has a program for Rapid Democracy in Iraq, which I've only just started reading. (Here it is in Arabic.)

And the latest Arthur Chrenkoff "Good News from Iraq" roundup: political development, modernizing the banking system, new trains, faster mail, hospitals and prosthetic limbs, and more. But this story on Iraqi military trainees struck me as much, much less positive than it did Chrenkoff.
READING AROUND THE IRAQI BLOGOSPHERE: Many new faces. (I'm looking for blogs by Iraqis in Iraq now, written in English.) ...The upshot is, this will be the last time I try a comprehensive read-through of the Iraqi blogosphere! That's really exciting: There are just way too many Iraqi blogs for me to keep up with. I'll be reorganizing the blogroll over there to reflect the ones I expect to read fairly often. I think the Iraq Blog Count is now up to 73. If anyone can think of something especially cool to do to celebrate when they reach 100, maybe let them know (and cc me, if you don't mind).

My old familiar 2002 piece on blogs and liberty in the Middle East.

Anyway... here's what I've got:

Most exciting news to me: The Return of Salam Pax. Even though he's going away again for a month. He's making another movie. ("Another"? When do we get to see the first one?) Anyway, a must-read, and as soon as he gets back it will be going on the daily-stops list.

Inactive (i.e. hasn't posted in a really long time): Gee in Baghdad and Ishtar Talking.

Blogging regularly: Nabil's blog (Iraqi sports news), A Family in Baghdad, Road of a Nation, Hammorabi, RiverbendBlog (Baghdad Burning), Secrets in Baghdad, Messopotamian, Iraq at a Glance, Iraq the Model, Healing Iraq, and all the new blogs listed below.

New! (to me, anyway--mostly via Nabil's blog and Iraq Blog Count): Almuajaha (news and opinion with comments boxes), Iraqi Passport (filmmaker returns to Iraq from US), Life in Baghdad, A star from Mosul, Baghdad Girl (whoa, an Iraqi catblog!... 13-y.o. girl in Baghdad), DBubble (mostly pictures and brief factual notes), Iraqi Girl, Suhax (translating, reports from Baghdad's Green Zone), Pictures in Baghdad (photoblog), Iraqi Letter to America (anti-war commentary), Glimpse of Iraq (personal reflections and commentary from the same person who writes Iraqi Letter to America), That Story Goes On (a creative writing blog!--looks like one blogger starts a story and then commenters continue it), Iraqi Blogger (aka No Pain No Gain), Abbas Kadhim ("Reflections on the Middle East, Islam, Politics and Theology"), Neurotic Iraqi Wife (...truth in advertising), Shlonkom Bakazay? (political commentary), Diary from Baghdad (27-y.o. wife, mother, and civil engineer).

Quotes: From A Family in Baghdad: "I always wonder: what is the difference between a man lying, and a man telling a half truth??? I don’t know….for there are many aspects of explanations.All right, Bush meets some Iraqi men whom Saddam Hussein cut their hands for dealing in dollars by the Black Market some time…the punishment was cruel, and In-human.And Bush volunteers to have artificial limbs fitted to those men, courtesy of the American government, or his personal account.He uses the subject as an advertisement for his humanity…So, why doesn’t he take some Iraqi children whose limbs were amputated by cluster bombs, dropped by the occupation forces on Iraqi villages, and have artificial limbs fitted to them?? Does he have the audacity to show the American people the other side of the story?? Why?? If he was a just, merciful, humanitarian man, let him complete the picture…That is how I understand courage and justice. And this is how I want the American people to think when looking at our reality, so the picture would be complete. So there would be honesty with one’s self….."

[later in same post, which is long and covers lots of topics and which you should read:]
"Going back to the Iraqi Business Women Society…the Society is new, poor, and in need of research, proposals, projects, and locating some funding for those projects…. I have a lot of various ideas, which I wrote down as small projects. I visited some factories of Hand-Made and Mechanical Carpets, who are state-owned factories, their products are beautiful and lovely, I am thinking (as a project) of buying some of it to export to Europe and America and other countries… I was also thinking of exporting pieces of the lovely Iraqi Hand-crafted products …thinking that part of the profits gained by these sales would revert back to the society to buy new products, and the other part would be used to buy winter clothes and school bags to a number of poor students, as a contribution from the society to re-build the local community…There are some Non-Iraqi societies working here, who have very good funding from abroad…they are researching in defending women’s rights, enlarging the political contribution, and democracy building. I attended a lecture today…by the title: Violence against Women.The Doctor spoke about cases of violence against women, its damaging effects upon their personalities, and upon society… then the girl responsible for that Society Branch said she would show some slides next week, pictures of women who were violently treated by their families. She said she is preparing for a symposium bout the discrimination by mothers against children, and some other painful, realistic stories… and a family whose crippled daughter burned herself, because she couldn’t face their sarcasm…Most of the attendants left…I approached the remaining ladies and the Doctor who gave the speech, and said: I have some comments, if you please…She said: Be our guest….I said: Who decides the program of the lectures? And who steers them in this direction??They said: We do, what's wrong with it?I said: These programs are suitable for a society living in normal conditions, and in peace, like the societies of America or Europe… like an Operah show, and her weird stories. But our society is torn apart, just out of war….the lectures are supposed to be aimed at keeping the Iraqi family bound, not to show painful, provoking cases. Displaying the pictures of violence is a provocation to violence…. They said: We want to make the women more aware.I said: A woman should not leave here feeling provoked against her husband and family, she should be made aware by another way…without altering priorities… and I took the pen and wrote on the board: ( The Most important thing is to keep the family's unity). They shouted to my face: How? Give us your ideas; we do not want some general speech… I said, All right, in the next lecture I will give you ideas."

whole thing

From Baghdad Girl, after lots of pictures of cats: "Yesterday my father was driving his car and suddenly the car stopped .....Why because the car break down, So he left it in a parking area and he went for calling help and he informed two american check point near the car that he will leave the car and get help.

"When he returned back with the help he found his car's window broken, A man in the parking area told him that an american patrol hit his car with aston and broke the window.

"can you believe that, What they did was very bad and hostile, My dad didn't do any thing wrong!!!"


From Riverbend: "It makes me miserable to think that Christians no longer feel safe. I know we're all feeling insecure right now, but there was always that sense of security between differing religions. Many Iraqis have been inside churches to attend weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Christians have been suffering since the end of the war. Some of them are being driven out of their homes in the south and even in some areas in Baghdad and the north. Others are being pressured to dress a certain way or not attend church, etc. So many of them are thinking of leaving abroad and it's such a huge loss. We have famous Christain surgeons, professors, artists, and musicians. It has always been an Iraqi quality in the region--we're famous for the fact that we all get along so well."

From Iraq Blog Count: "Has anybody noticed the high percentage of dentists in the Iraqi blogosphere. Ays from Iraq at a glance is a dentist, so is Zeyad from HealingIraq. Two of the brothers posting on Iraq The model are dentists as well. What's up with that?

"Is there maybe something about being a dentist that makes somebody want to blog as well. You know how dentists always talk with you when you can't answer back because your mouth is open and you are in pain? Perhaps all dentists like a captive audience.

"Or maybe it is an Iraqi conspiracy to get people in the west to brush their teeth three times a day. There might be subliminal messages in hidden in their posts.

"Which begs the question:How many dentists does it take to change a light bulb in Iraq?Non, why bother the electricity is hardly on."

From Suhax: "I found a new hangout in the i-zone, the Bunker bar. You know you're in a war zone when the local bar has an RPG mounted on the wall as well as mines and other types of weapons. You know you are in Iraq when the bar stools at the local bar are made out of rockets and missiles. Of course, the entire place is an actual bunker -- talk about safe partying."

From Iraq the Model: "...As for the reactions in the Arab media, it wasn't unusual that all what they have focused on yesterday, was the explosions around the building where the meeting [of the interim Iraqi national conference] took place, while the event itself; the meeting, the free discussions, the exchange of opinions and the plans for the future, were something they weren't concerned about. Others focused on the fact that some members (around 10%) didn't attend, showing this as some sort of a failure, as they are used to 100% attendance, 100% voting (yes) and 100% cheering. They (Arab media as well as some Arabs) stand confused at what's happening in Iraq. They are looking at us as if we were aliens, wondering what happened to the obedient well behaved Iraqis. How can they revolt against their ancestors heritage? Why are they acting differently to their arab and Muslim brothers? Why did they accept the 'west's ideology' and betrayed their own leadership?"
whole thing

and on Sunday: "...The other crime that cannot be forgiven is what happened in the 'religious court.' I think that if what happened gets a fair coverage, it will destroy the Sadr movement and rid it of any possible left support among Iraqis. What happened in this court was huge and was the worst crime since the end of the war. It resembles to a great extent what used to happen in Saddam's prisons in a way that makes us feel unsafe once again. Frankly the scene that was broadcasted on TV, shocked me and terrorized me. I started to feel really afraid and my mind recalled moments and pictures I've tried so hard to overcome the fear that they generated inside me for decades."
whole thing
ANY DAY IS A GOOD DAY TO REMIND YOU about Forum 18, a news service dedicated to reporting on threats to religious freedom around the world.
HANG UP THE BLOG HABIT, HANG IT UP DADDY: Blah! Two of my favorite comics bloggers, Grotesque Anatomy and Sean Collins, are vamoosing. Already missed, guys....

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"I COUNT ONLY SUNNY HOURS": A BOY IN THE WAVES. Uh, dueling psychics at Venice Beach. Unfortunately, not as funny as it sounds. Plot device cheerfully stolen from half a dozen pseudo-sci-fi books and TV shows; I first encountered it in Stephen King's Dead Zone, the first third of which is top-notch King with the successive thirds deteriorating apace. Anyway, this is really short and will have a point by the end. I expect to have it done by Monday. As always, your comments and criticism are encouraged.

TRAUMA AND SHAME: Powerful post at After Abortion--excerpts from Aphrodite Matsakis's Trust After Trauma: A Guide to Relationships for Survivors and Those Who Love Them. Quotes from the book: "A first and deepest level of shame originates when you are abused or ordered about, even if you have no choice but to accept it. This is the shame of being denigrated. The resulting humiliation is so deep that it requires a great deal of therapy to alleviate it. Not only sexual assault survivors, but survivors of other kinds of trauma also experience the shame and humiliation of being exploited.

"A second level of shame is caused by having to violate one's ethical code, which may be required in order to survive. In other words, to be traumatized, you have to be trapped in a situation where there is no way out or where all the ways out are very difficult or morally undesirable.

"Even in captivity, a person can retain some pride if he/she can act according to internal moral standards. Too often, however, the perpetrator, whether it be an abusive relative or a corrupt superior, demands that the victim betray his/her moral standards. At this point, the victim ceases to be a victim and becomes an unwilling accomplice to the abuse, a perpetrator; thus compounding the guilt, shame, and confusion."

whole post here
"AS DIVIDED AS EVERYONE ELSE": Basic, but still very interesting, Chicago Tribune piece on Iraqi-American women's political opinions. Includes brief discussion of Zainab Al-Suwaij, of whom more here.