Saturday, November 15, 2008

4201 -updated with photos

Latest Coalition Fatalities

11/15/08 MNF:
2 CF Soldiers killed after aircraft hard landing in East Mosul
Two Coalition forces Soldiers were killed after an aircraft accident in East Mosul in Ninewah province Nov. 15. The incident appears to be combat-unrelated and there was no enemy contact in the area.

11/15/08 MNF:
Marine attacked by IED (Ar Ramadi)
A Multi National Force – West Marine died Nov.14 as the result of wounds received when an improvised explosive device detonated in al Anbar province earlier in the day.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 0f 2)

Spc. Corey M. Shea, 21, of Mansfield, Mass. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas... died Nov. 12 in Mosul, Iraq, when an Iraqi Army soldier wearing a uniform approached them and opened fire.

A member of the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Regiment, based in Fort Hood, Texas, Spc. Shea had less than two months to go in his deployment, and had been home on leave three weeks ago, when he spoke to students at his alma mater, Mansfield High School, about the Army and Iraq. During his high school career, he had enjoyed playing football and hockey with the school teams.

While home on leave Spc. Shea had gotten a tattoo on his forearm in tribute to one of his fellow soldiers who had been killed in Iraq and had considered moving to Texas when he returned from his deployment, so that he could help the solder’s widow and son.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 0f 2)

Sgt. Jose Regalado, 23, of Los Angeles. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas...died Nov. 12 in Mosul, Iraq, when an Iraqi Army soldier wearing a uniform approached them and opened fire.

A tiny photograph, of a precious daughter in the making ... On Sunday, March 30, 2008, Sgt. Jose Regalado’s wife sent him an ultrasound image of their unborn daughter. He carried it as a reminder of home, to, as he said, get through the next day. That tiny daughter will never meet her father, who was killed by a uniformed Iraqi officer this week.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Spc. James M. Clay, 25, of Mountain Home, Ark., died Nov. 13 in Anbar Province, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team...

A few months before he left for Iraq, Spc. James M. Clay married his high school sweetheart, Melissa Dewey, in November last year, now he leaves her a widow less than a month before he was to return.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Spc. Armando A. De La Paz, 21, of Riverside, Calif., died Nov. 13 in Baghdad, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division...

"I pictured him being a college English professor," Scott Goodwin, a teacher at Arlington High School, remembered his student, Armando De La Paz, who was killed by injuries suffered during a vehicle rollover in Baghdad, Iraq, this week. Mr. Goodwin said that Spc. De La Paz was enjoyed reading great literature on his own, including "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, "Rain of Gold" by Victor Villaseñor, "Native Son" by Richard Wright and "Kaffir Boy" by Mark Mathabane, but that he was reluctant to discuss them in class, for fear of making the other students feel badly. In 16 years as a teacher, "I've never met anybody that concerned about how other people might feel," Godwin said. "He was just the most gentle, intelligent kid."

And in Afghanistan:

11/15/08 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Jonnie L. Stiles, 38, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., died Nov. 13 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 927th Engineer Company...

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

For all victims of war, let us pray.

For peace, let us pray and work.

Photos and additional information in italics from IGTNT
--the BB

Attention must be paid

Idahospud44 does a serious job of calling us on our societal attention deficit disorder, our distractability, our impatience with issues that matter, our failure to pay attention.

Since, the "successful surge", only 1,194 of our troops have died and only 7,857 have been seriously wounded. That seems to be just dandy to many Americans. A February 2008 Pew Report showed that 48% of us think the war is going well. The death toll has risen to 627 in Afghanistan. Since the start of the war in 2003 to now more than 320,000 brain injuries have been reported. There were 790 attempted suicides among Iraqi veterans in 2007 alone. Eighteen vets commit suicide each month. A CBS report showed that there were 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces in 2005 alone.

Idahospudd44 contrasts this stark, unpleasant, ignored reality with all the attention we give the latest celebutard gossip about Sarah Palin (I'm the one calling her a celebutard, btw). Oh look, a shiny object....

"Successful"? Violence may have gone down (though it's not gone by any means) but the surge was to provide opportunity for the Iraqi government to get its act together. And has that happened?

A disaster from day one.

And why isn't W standing before the bar at the Hague yet?

And why aren't we paying attention?
--the BB

Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta

On a whim - read: nudging of the Spirit - I clicked the video of Nada te turbe at Margaret's Leave It Lay and listened once again to this moving prayer from the bookmark of Teresa de Jesús.

Todo se pasa - all things pass
Dios no se muda - God does not change
Quien a Dios tiene nada le falta - who holds to God lacks nothing

As I listened the image of Mount Calvary in ashes arose and, you could predict this, the tears arose with it. I thought of the brothers cast out and thrown back on God alone.

Now is the time they must hold to the Holy Cross, the Tree of Life.

On my lap right now is my copy of the Order's breviary. It is a bit battered, having been used daily for many years (not lately, I do confess). I got it at Mount Calvary and used it there and at Incarnation Priory in Berkeley when praying with the brethren and mostly on my own. I used to pray the Office riding the RTD in Los Angeles to and from work and Diurnum at lunch on the campus of Occidental College (a few blocks from where I worked in Eagle Rock for Sparkletts Drinking Water). It shaped me forever.

Actually, it is the second copy as the first one was falling apart from daily use.

I think on the great wrought iron cross in the courtyard with its elegant filigree and symbols of the passion and the golden heart in the middle.

These are the antiphons of the feast of Father Founder:

On the Psalter
  1. The Cross is our all-sufficient treasure, and his love our never-ending reward.
  2. We are to look for the riches of God as we depend less on the riches of the world.
  3. Holiness is the brightness of divine love; love must act as light mus shine and fire must burn.
  4. Humility, obedience, love: this is the holiness without which we cannot see the Lord.
  5. We are to be continually prasing God; we are practicing for the endless alleluias of the heavenly courts.
On the Magnificat at 1st Vespers
The ladder of the Cross is planted firmly within our house and angels pass up and down that stairway.

On the Benedictus
We cannot help others by giving them what is our own; we must impart to them the strength of Christ's Body, the fruits of the Spirit.

On the Psalter at Diurnum
We must rejoice in the holy Cross as the glory of the Christian name.
On the Magnificat at 2nd Vespers
Ask them to forgive me; tell them I forgive them. I want them to have joy; I will always intercede.
Another nudge? I just thought I should share these.

Prayer for the Order of the Holy Cross:
Lord Jesus Christ, in different ways you call your elect ones to follow you, yet you draw them all by the love of your saving Cross: Favorably accept your servants who have devoted themselves to you in the Order of the Holy Cross. Of your mercy grant that, as through fellowship in your sufferings they are made conformable to your death, so they may ever show forth you, their true life; who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Familiar words that I have prayed hundreds of times and now pray with love and an aching heart.

The Cross is our all-sufficient treasure, and his love our never-ending reward.

--the BB

Fran leads me into shameless self-promotion

It's not always Eileen who's to blame (and don't we have a pattern here dating back to Adam?). Fran just said she likes seeing pics of me here.

Ostrovsky Square

Actually, I was thinking about how much fun it would be to look at my clippings from four years ago just after the election but at that time I was in St Petersburg. So.... Here is a bit from the pictorial record of November 2004.

Looking down a side street from Nevsky Prospect

You can tell I have been into architectural detail for a long time. New Orleans was not the beginning of photos like this. Actually, Mexico City was but I don't have those in digital form.

The Byzigenous Buddhapalian in front of the Russian Museum

Vic wondered why he couldn't be in this post but I told him he was just a gleam in the Bearmaker's eye at the time.
--the BB

Adieu, Nouvelle Orléans!

Vic Flyboy and the Obama Bear

After all the lamenting about the lack of a batteried camera I remembered that my MacBook has a built-in camera, so here - courtesy of Photo Booth - is a shot of Vic Flyboy and moise'f at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

I am wearing the Obama-Biden sweatshirt that I picked up at the ABQ SW HQ two weeks ago.

Vic likes the idea of a home with lots of siblings to play with though he seems a tad anxious about leaving his home town. I assure him that Belle made the transition with great success and she will have a familiar accent.

I was singing "Good morning, starshine" as I went through security. Tooby ooby wabba, on our way home!

It has been nice to get to know, even just a little bit, this beautiful city and its wonderful citizens. I hope the photo chronicles put up here have made it possible for y'all to get some nice glimpses of New Orleans.

Huge thanks to the folks at the company I was working for and to all my colleagues on the project. It's been a pleasure (if we ignore the craziness, but that is always true in life and it comes with the territory).

This report comes to you from the NOLA Airport where most travelers are quietly reading their newspapers, texting, napping, sitting paitiently, etc. and some are very loud. Fortunately, the loud ones passed on to a further gate. Thank you, Jesus.

How can people use such an "outside voice" so early in the morning? It's painful.

Yep, old fart to the end.
--the BB

Travel day (yippee!)

Next post from either the NOLA Airport or from home.

Bless those who stand up and witness today!

God bless those who mourn.


Justice delayed is justice denied

That's an old truism of our legal system related to the right to a speedy trial. It can also apply to the public's desire to see justice done and things set right, or as near right as possible after a deed is done.

Today we have news.

After more than five years of rampant violence and misconduct carried out by the massive army of private corporate contractors in Iraq -- actions that have gone totally unpunished under any system of law -- the US Justice Department appears to be on the verge of handing down the first indictments against armed private forces for crimes committed in Iraq. The reported targets of the "draft" indictments: six Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16, 2007, killing of seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square.The Associated Press reports, "The draft is being reviewed by senior Justice Department officials but no charging decisions have been made. A decision is not expected until at least later this month." The AP, citing sources close to the case, reports that the department has not determined if the Blackwater operatives would be charged with manslaughter or assault. Simply drafting the indictments does not mean that the Blackwater forces are certain to face charges. The department could indict as few as three of the operatives, who potentially face sentences of five to twenty years, depending on the charges.

If the Justice Department pursues a criminal prosecution, it would be the first time armed private contractors from the United States face justice.

But that is a very big "if."

--Jeremy Scahill at The Nation via Alternet

--the BB

Friday, November 14, 2008


[Lifted wholesale from the Cunning Runt at Little Bang Theory]

Just a reminder that tomorrow is your chance to ACT ON YOUR CONVICTIONS, to get off your comfy chair and put your body where your mouth is. We’re standing up for our brothers and sisters in the LGBTA community, because they’re human beings just like we are, because they’re citizens of this great country just like we are, and because Common Decency demands that we recognize their equality, their worth as human beings and their immeasurable contributions to the fabric of our society, our civilization, our world.

And because Love is Love.

Find a public event near you and BE THERE.

Thanks, CR.
--the BB

Los alisos se fueron

One of the chief reasons I bought the condo pictured here (upstairs) was the magnificent mature alders the grew in front of it. This was back in spring of 2002. I felt as though I were living in a treehouse. I talked to the trees (it's something I do as I have bonded with trees since I was young) and I prayed with them. I offered prayer tobacco to them. I named my home Los Alisos (Spanish for The Alders).

In January 2003 management had them all cut to the ground and the roots pulled up.

I was crushed and my home was never the same again.

Learning something from Buddhism about impermanence, I realized that while the alders no longer manifested they had always been and would always be. And I had to nurture my inner alder tree, that which they had given me me.

So I mourned, burnt incense at each new cavity in the earth, offered more prayer tobacco, and let my inner tree grow stronger.

This is a post about Mount Calvary.

I acknowledge impermanence, I bow to necessity, I make space for the retreat within.

Updated with link to Mt Calvary
--the BB

My God, she is good

Well, y'all knew that anyway. But it is so nice to hear eloquent punditry with good reasoning and cogent examples.

Ladies and gentlemen (and the rest of you lot), I give you Rachel Maddow.

The anxious Dems in the Senate need to get over their nervous nellyism and see to it that the obnoxious Lieberman lose his chairmanship. It will not have serious consequences if he goes into a snit. He's already in a perpetual snit, so deal with it.

Oh, did I mention that Ms. Maddow is gorgeous? And brilliant?

h/t to Markos
--the BB

A new member of the family

My carpool partner of recent weeks gave me a parting present this morning on the way to work: one Victor Joseph Flyboy (aka Vic, VJ, and if he's naughty "Victor Joseph!").

He is a teddy bear in full aviator gear. Too cute for words but since my camera battery is exhausted (and that ain't all that's exhausted), photos have to wait until we get home. This morning on the way to work he was singing "nothing can stop the Army Air Corps!" Yes, like his daddy, he's a bit old-fashioned. I thought the "at 'em boys, give 'em the gun, rat-a-tat-tat!" was a bit bloodthirsty but he's young and I certainly feel safer on the streets with him around. There was also a bit of "up in the air, Junior Birdmen." My, he's going to be a handful.

He also kept me company on a day that ran on longer than planned. The time sheet I turned in yesterday presumed leaving work after 8 hours, i.e., around 3:30. It was 6 p.m. when I left work. Which is fine. I was committed to completing the day's tasks, even if they got started late. I did somewhere just short of 6000 lines of data entry, finished documenting the procedures of what we were routinely doing, and got everything boxed up or recycled. As I left the office I was humming tunes from Don Giovanni which the New Orleans Opera is performing this evening and tomorrow. Wish I could have caught it.

Early tomorrow morning I shall be homeward bound.

Vic says, Hi!
--the BB

One of my former homes destroyed - updated

A spiritual home, to be precise.

Mount Calvary Retreat House in Santa Barbara was my first real "home" in the world of Episcopalian and Anglican communities. The brothers of the Order of the Holy Cross accepted me as a fellow Catholic Christian and did not treat me, as so many did, as some hybrid "Baptipalian." I always felt at home at Mount Calvary, serene in the ridgetop beauty and prayerful atmosphere.

(Episcopal News, Los Angeles) -- The raging Montecito wildfire has destroyed historic Mount Calvary Retreat House, staff and Santa Barbara County officials have confirmed.

The resident brothers, members of the Order of the Holy Cross, and staff are safe following evacuation, said Nancy Bullock, program director for Mount Calvary, speaking by phone from All Saints by-the-Sea Church in Montecito.

Bullock said that All Saints is currently working to determine if any parishioners have lost homes in the blaze, which has claimed more than 100 residences across 2,500 acres. Bullock's husband, Jeff, is rector of the parish.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno, who is in close telephone contact with clergy leaders in the Santa Barbara area, asks the prayers of the diocesan community for all those affected by the fire. The bishop and staff of the Diocese of Los Angeles have pledged their support in assisting the coordination of fire recovery efforts. Checks, payable to the Treasurer of the Diocese and earmarked "Montecito Fire Recovery" may be sent to the Bishop's Office, 840 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026.

Mount Calvary's prior, the Rev. Nicholas Radelmiller OHC, is leading the brothers and staff in assessing next steps of response to the fire damage.

Bullock said the brothers and staff at Mt. Calvary, were able to leave with some of the hilltop retreat house's valuable art treasures, as well as computer records, "but so much is lost."

I just read this and it will take a while to absorb it. People I love and have prayed for over decades are involved.

Nothing is permanent but sometimes it is hard to face that reality.

For all threatened and endangered by wildfires, for the Order of the Holy Cross, for those who will be in mourning, let us pray.

h/t to DioBytes, the online communications organ of the Episcopal Diocese of California (my canonical residence).

This is an aerial photo from the website of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, New York (the mother house):

Collect for the feast of Father Founder, James Otis Sargent Huntington (November 25):
O loving God, by your grace your servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send your blessing on all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look upon him and be saved; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

--the BB

Thursday, November 13, 2008


11/13/08 AP:
20 civilians, 1 U.S. soldier in attack on U.S. convoy in Afghanistan
A suicide bomber rammed his car into a U.S. military convoy as it was passing through a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 20 civilians and an American soldier, officials said.



11/13/08 MNF:
U.S. Soldier dies in non-combat related incident
A Coalition force Soldier died as a result of a non-combat related cause at approximately 11:52 a.m Nov. 13 in western Iraq. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending next of kin notification and release by the Department of Defense.

11/13/08 MNF:
MND-B Soldier dies of non-combat related injury
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died as the result of a non-combat related cause at approximately 3:50 a.m. Nov. 13 in Baghdad.

11/12/08 MNF:
CF attacked by SAF in Mosul
Coalition forces were attacked by small-arms fire while on a joint dismounted patrol in an Iraqi Army compound at approximately noon Nov. 12. ...Two Soldiers were killed and six others were wounded in the attack. The Iraqi soldier was killed...


Princess Sparkle Pony makes some important observations

From her fabulous blog:
Some idiot Palinophile left a comment here yesterday (which I deleted, natch) whining, basically, "Give it a rest, the election is over." But, oh, nuh-uh, not so fast! Besides being an obvious and irresistible target for satire 'n' catty bitchiness, there are some totally good reasons to not let up: 1. She's a politically dangerous Christian lunatic. 2. Any attempt to take her seriously must be counteracted. 3. Her lies are pernicious. 4. She fosters ignorance and insipidity. 5. She's ambitious and would like to rule you.
[Emphasis mine]

And speaking of the word "fabulous," the asshole-in-chief, Pretzeldent AWOL had the nerve to use the term when speaking of and to American veterans.
NEW YORK (AP) -- President Bush wistfully saluted the nation's veterans Tuesday as he prepares to hand two ongoing wars over to his successor, saying he'll "miss being the commander in chief of such a fabulous group."

I heard this on the radio and gasped.

Taking my cue from Bill Maher, here are the new rules:

1. No matter how much you admire our vets (and I do), you simply do not describe them as fabulous.

2. Gays have suffered enough in the recent state elections. They should not have to hear the word fabulous spoken by that cretinous abomination.

[Actually, I cannot abide anything spoken by that cretinous abomination and notorious war criminal.]

OK, you can all go back to being serious now.
--the BB

We ask that the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorneys General of California and Utah immediately begin a full and thorough ....

A complaint has been filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorneys General of California and Utah regarding activities of the Mormon Church with respect to Proposition 8. You can read it all at Americablog.

I believe the gist of the argument lies in acting beyond "member communication" to address the voting public at large, which would put these activities within the realm of reportable activities. Extensive non-monetary contributions are described including phone banks, the work or political operatives, Saturday rallies, satellite broadcasts, and a multimedia program.

Air and light are wonderful disinfectants.
--the BB

Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco

We don't give up the struggle.

h/t to, well, Gavin Newsom, who writes that "what we need above all is a sustained commitment to a strategy that will see this fight through to victory."

Markos reports that "SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed suit (PDF) to halt the enactment of Proposition 8 eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry. Paul Hogarth reviews the plaintiff's brief." Los Angeles County and other governmental entities have joined the challenge.
--the BB

I write fantasy fiction

Perhaps you would like to indulge some fantasies today.

Check out this spoof site. Even the ads. Caution: it may be hard to return to reality.
--the BB

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trying to catch up. Again.

On election day I noticed that four more nations had joined the rolls in the flag counter at the right. Tonight I see yet another. So here are flags and tidbits from numbers 145 and 145. (147-149 are yet to come.)

A hearty welcome to our first visitors from Mongolia and French Polynesia.

I have been to neither though my road buddy Bill did visit French Polynesia earlier this year. He did pencil sketches of some of the volcanic hills of the islands.

In the heart of east central Asia lies Mongolia, land of Genghis Khan. Mongolia is now a parliamentary republic and Ulan Bator is its capital. The Mongolian language exists, beyond its utilitarian role for the people of Mongolia and parts of China, to remind me how easy Russian is. Both are written in the Cyrillic alphabet, though there is a Mongol script used for Mongolian in China.

Mongolian Incredible Throat Singing 呼麦

bayasgalan - botgon duu

ARIUNAA - Talijn Mongol Ajl (Mongolian music)

Of French Polynesia we learn this from Wikipedia:
It is made up of several groups of islands, the largest and most populated of which is Tahiti.
The island groups are:
Austral Islands
Bass Islands often considered part of the Austral Islands
Gambier Islands often considered part of the Tuamotu Archipelago
Marquesas Islands
Society Islands (including Tahiti)
Tuamotu Archipelago
Aside from Tahiti, some other important atolls, islands, and island groups in French Polynesia are: Ahe, Bora Bora, Hiva `Oa, Huahine, Maiao, Maupiti, Mehetia, Moorea, Nuku Hiva, Raiatea, Tahaa, Tetiaroa, Tubuai, and Tupai.
French Polynesia is a French overseas collectivity of which the official languages are French and Tahitian. The capital is Papeete.

Bora Bora (because we all need to hear some French from time to time)

TOA'URA (Slideshow, music) [so we can hear some Tahitian too]

OK, let's have some fun!
Fenua sing "E vahine maohi e" (lyrics here)

If you want an exercise video for your hips, my friends, check this out. I think I sprained something just watching.

--the BB

Well of course it's her fault; isn't it always?


I think Eileen gets too much blame in her life and this time around I'm not going to add to it. It's my own damn fault I love taking tests and absolutely lack won't power.

Moreover, look at how much fun and silliness she has added to my life. Here's to you, Fluffy!

Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...


31% Logical, 16% Spatial, 61% Linguistic, 29% Intrapersonal, 27% Interpersonal, 8% Musical, 8% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 67% Naturalistic!

"This area has to do with nature, nurturing and relating information to one's natural surroundings. Those with it are said to have greater sensitivity to nature and their place within it, the ability to nurture and grow things, and greater ease in caring for, taming and interacting with animals. They may also be able to discern changes in weather or similar fluctuations in their natural surroundings. They are also good at recognizing and classifying different species.

'Naturalists' learn best when the subject involves collecting and analyzing, or is closely related to something prominent in nature; they also don't enjoy learning unfamiliar or seemingly useless subjects with little or no connections to nature. It is advised that naturalistic learners would learn more through being outside or in a kinesthetic way.

Careers which suit those with this intelligence include scientists, naturalists, conservationists, gardeners and farmers." (Wikipedia)

Take Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test
at HelloQuizzy

OK, now can I blame her for the results? I have such a "yes but" response to all this. Asking me if it would be more fun to go to a play or learn a new language? May I ask first how much time I have for this activity? If it's an evening, a play - absolutely! If it's a year, then let's go for a new language.

I did choose Stonehenge. It appeals to me on several levels, including being primal, spiritual, and introspective. I'd like to experience it alone or with no more than two very good friends.

So low on music? Granted, I can't play anything more than simple rhythms on a hand drum but I love to sing and I have played with composition and appreciate a wide range of music. Ah well. I'd still rather meet Buddha than Mozart.

Being a mad-ass intuitive I always see more possibilities and hate having to choose.

Yes, I love comparison, contrast, analysis, and categorization. I think everyone should be able not only to do better than "bird" when they see one but even name many subsets. Not just "duck" but mallard, or ruddy, or canvasback, or grebe. Tree? Perhaps alder, birch, cedar, deodar, elm, fir, ginkgo, hornbeam, ironwood, juniper, kumquat, linden, mahogany, nectarine, piñon, quince, redwood, sandalwood, etc. Of course I have collected and pressed wildflowers. One of my favorite parts of writing fantasy fiction is envisioning the physical environment.

Your turn now. How do you score?

--the BB

Takng a courageous stance

Through a diary by Andrew Callahan at Daily Kos I see that a number of Mormons are writing letters, signing petitions, and in some cases formally resigning from the church over the promotion of discrimination through sponsorship of Prop 8.

Check out the blog Signing for Something where you can read this:
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been taught, “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government …” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:9). Recent action taken by the First Presidency in support of a constitutional amendment in the State of California has rallied us to the cause of freedom.

My prayers, support, and gratitude for these brave souls.
--the BB


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Staff Sgt. Timothy H. Walker, 38, of Franklin, Tenn., died Nov. 8 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division...

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Theron V. Hobbs, 22, of Albany, Ga., died Nov. 6 in a motor vehicle accident in Kirkuk, Iraq. He was assigned to the 572nd Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.


May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There should be consequences for leaving the party

I'm not saying Joe Lieberman should be a social pariah but I do think that, inasmuch as he has left the Democratic Party, there is no reason he should be part of the Dem caucus or hold important chairs in the Senate.

I have sent e-mails to both Senator Bingaman and Senator-elect Udall making my views known. I may not sway them but they will hear a lot from me in the years to come, so I might as well get started.

The bottom line for me is two-fold: (1) he is a GOP enabler and (2) I don't trust him.

Let us not forget that his own party (at the time) rejected him in the Connecticut Democratic primary. That should tell you something. He only won as an independent in the general election because of Republican support.

Yes, I am partisan. I would prefer to rise above it but after the behavior of the GOP over the past three decades I am out to fight them in the trenches, on the beaches, in the woods, on the streets, at the polls, and online.
--the BB

... to provide for the common defense....

Some folks live these words of the Constitution by putting their bodies on the line.

To all of them I say, Thank you.

Time reports on Kristallnacht

The Lead points us to the article.
Germany will commemorate the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht on Sunday, through a series of events aimed at ensuring a new generation of Germans, too young to have known anyone connected with those events, about the horrors that flowed from the racism of the German past, in the hope of guarding against any future recurrence.
Read it all here.
--the BB

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunt rerum lacrimae - updated

Susankay correctly notes in the comments that I altered the word order of the phrase from Vergil's Aeneid. Aeneas said, "sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt." As a great fan of P. Vergilius Maro and his magnum opus, I would never presume to improve on his verse. My intent was to borrow the concept and I did not even trouble my memory for word order. Fortunataely for me, Latin's highly inflected nature allows for flexibility in the sequence of words and grammar remains intact. My sole guideline was the flow of English-style accentuation in the rhythm of my header which borrowed only three words from the master. Sunt lacrimae rerum, pronounced with non-Latin stress and scarce respect for long and short syllables, not to mention standing alone without the rest of the line, strikes my ears as a challenging double amphibrach. The double dactyl was much easier on my internal ear. And that is how it happened.

My friend Susankay has recalled me to due respect for sources and the integrity of tradition. Chastened, I confess my error/sin/sloppiness here to one and all.

Here is a bit from a blog on autism:
sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt

This is line 462 from the first book of the 1st century BC Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid, the epic poem of how the Trojan prince Aeneas flees from his burning city and journeys to Italy to found a new city that one day will be Rome. If I may offer a less literal translation than “the tears of human things and these mortal matters touch the mind” for sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt :

“These are the tears of what it is to be human
and what mortals do touch the mind.

Aeneas says these lines to his friend Achates as the two behold paintings of the Trojan War in a temple in Carthage (the modern Tunisia). Aeneas is overwhelmed at the sight of the terrible losses of his own family and friends—the lacrimae rerum—of himself, depicted in art (and art by strangers, by a foreign people, the Carthiginians).
For my generation, looking at The Wall is an abstracted yet powerful analog to Aeneas beholding the tragic past of his people and the events of his own life.

I undertand et mentem mortalia tangunt as the whole matter of being mortal, death-destined, finite, tangled in cycles that transcend our knowing - all this profoundly touching not just the mind but the heart and gut. To somehow grasp the richness and agony and bittersweet nature of the whole enchilada simply reaches out and grabs us and holds our attention. At least when we let it.

Veterans' Day is one of those times we deliberately pause to allow all the matters of mortality to affect us.

Let us feel deeply.

Lest we turn to stone.

[Yes, this post was better without words.]
--the BB

Armistice Day 2008

I am old fashioned, a certified old codger. I still like the sound of Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day because it ties the remembrance to a specific day, a specific event - the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918, the end of the Great War.

This does not mean I don't rejoice to include all Veterans of all wars in our remembrance. I do.

I just like the now-quaint older name.

And I love remembering how my father told me of the old man who went down the street in Kingsburg, California, banging two pipes together to announce the end of that war. Dad's tenth birthday was just the month before.

I bring you poetry from the Great War.

The Effort

'The effect of our bombardment was terrific. One man told me he had
never seen so many dead before.'--War Correspondent.
'HE'D never seen so many dead before.'
They sprawled in yellow daylight while he swore
And gasped and lugged his everlasting load
Of bombs along what once had been a road.
'How peaceful are the dead.'
Who put that silly gag in some one's head?
'He'd never seen so many dead before.'
The lilting words danced up and down his brain,
While corpses jumped and capered in the rain.
No, no; he wouldn't count them any more...
The dead have done with pain:
They've choked; they can't come back to life again.
When Dick was killed last week he looked like that,
Flapping along the fire-step like a fish,
After the blazing crump had knocked him flat...
'How many dead? As many as ever you wish.
Don't count 'em; they're too many.
Who'll buy my nice fresh corpses, two a penny?'
--Siegfried Sassoon

Cramped in that Funnelled Hole

Cramped in that funnelled hole, they watched the dawn
Open a jagged rim around; a yawn
Of death's jaws, which had all but swallowed them
Stuck in the bottom of his throat of phlegm.
They were in one of many mouths of Hell
Not seen of seers in visions, only felt
As teeth of traps; when bones and the dead are smelt
Under the mud where long ago they fell
Mixed with the sour sharp odour of the shell.
--Wilfred Owen


They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.
--Wilfred Gibson

I think that when our troops come home, at last, from Iraq, I may walk down my street banging pipes together.

What a wonderful thing that would be.

I want to bang pipes.

In the meantime, may we treat our vets well. We owe them.
--the BB

The art of Paul Madonna

Click to enlarge.

I love his work. It appears weekly in the San Francisco Chronicle.
--the BB

Keith knocks it out of the park once again

h/t to Hoffmania
--the BB

Oh, this is just too funny

Way to go, Digby. Long have I loved you.
[Digby gives a hat tip to BB. It is someone else, not me.]
--the BB

Why change was needed - reason #4397

Juan Cole reports:
I'm shocked, shocked that allegations are emerging at the International Atomic Energy Agency that US-supplied "documents" from a laptop acquired in 2004 indicating a secret Iranian weapons program were probably forgeries.

The IAEA clearly hopes that the Obama administration will end the previous administration's attempts to undermine it and will stop the Washington habit of using forged documents as a basis for aggressive military responses to nuclear programs and instead will opt for diplomacy.

Sigh. This nation really has been run by a bunch of two-bit thugs for the past eight years.
--the BB

Let the boycotts begin!

I was just looking at who in Albuquerque gave for and against Prop 8 using the database at SFGate (the San Francisco Chronicle folks). I only saw two $100 donations listed under my name (I know there were at least three and probably four). But I saw the largest ABQ donor to Yes on 8.

Brian Rule, executive of Blake's Lotaburger.

Guess where I will no longer be having green chili cheeseburgers? (And they do make nice ones, too.)

These places are all over Albuquerque. When I first moved there I felt they were located on at least every fourth corner in town.

Well, no queer money from my pocket will ever go there again.

Just saying.
--the BB

From the pen of Sherfflus

Nicked from Padre Mickey (who has more) who got it from Bartcop.
--the BB

Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa, dies

May flights of drumming and dancing angels sing her to her rest!

"She was a mother to our struggle," Mandela said in a statement. "Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile which she felt for 31 long years. Her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in us."

Sunday night's concert was to support Robert Saviano, the Italian author who has lived in hiding since publishing Gomorrah, a best-selling expose of the Camorra gangsters who, among many other crimes, are blamed for killing six African immigrants in Castel Volturno in September.

Makeba's family, noting in a statement that she had performed one of her greatest hits, Pata Pata - Xhosa for Touch, Touch - shortly before collapsing, said: "Whilst this great lady was alive she would say: 'I will sing until the last day of my life'."


h/t to google headlines
--the BB

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Geography blogging: Western Central Africa

Since the plight of Congo is finally making it into the news, it might be a good time to take a look at that region.

When you hit Mimi's pages, you must be important, right? Thanks to Mimi for upholding the plight of Congo (here and here and here and here). Mimi's new Boswell, Georgianne Nienaber, has been there and here is her article at HuffPo.

Georgianne also gives us some visuals:

So, where are we talking about anyway? It's that part of Africa around the shaded oval above.

The Republic of Cameroon is a picture of diversity.
Natural features include beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas. The highest point is Mount Cameroon in the southwest, and the largest cities are Douala, Yaoundé, and Garoua. Cameroon is home to over 200 different ethnic and linguistic groups. The country is well known for its native styles of music, particularly makossa and bikutsi, and for its successful national football team. English and French are the official languages. (Wikipedia)
The capital is Yaoundé. Wikipedia adds the following:
Compared with other African countries, Cameroon enjoys political and social stability. This has permitted the development of agriculture, roads, railways, and large petroleum and timber industries. Nevertheless, large numbers of Cameroonians live in poverty as subsistence farmers. Power lies firmly in the hands of the president, Paul Biya, and his Cameroon People's Democratic Movement party, and corruption is widespread. The Anglophone community has grown increasingly alienated from the government, and Anglophone politicians have called for greater decentralisation and even the secession of the former British-governed territories.

Equatorial Guinea is a Spanish- and French-speaking nation with its own share of challenges:
Diplomats and even ministers have been caught smuggling drugs, sometimes using diplomatic bags and even the president's baggage on state trips. The incumbent president has never equalled the bloodthirsty reputation of former dictator Francisco Macías Nguema, whom he overthrew. On Christmas of 1975, Macías had 150 alleged coup plotters executed to the sound of a band playing Mary Hopkin's tune Those Were the Days in a national stadium.
A huge proportion of the £370 million revenue is confiscated by the president while most of the 500,000 subjects subsist on less than a dollar a day, sewage runs through the streets of the capital Malabo, and there is no public transport and little drinking water or electricity.[Wikipedia]
The capital is Malabo. Here is a drive through Malabo with local music:

The Central African Republic is one of the poorest nations on the planet. The capital is Bangui. A new president was elected in 2008. From Wikipedia:
The CAR is heavily dependent upon multilateral foreign aid and the presence of numerous NGOs which provide services which the government fails to provide. As one UNDP official put it, the CAR is a country "sous serum," or a country metaphorically hooked up to an IV. (Mehler 2005:150). The very presence of numerous foreign personnel and organizations in the country, including peacekeepers and even refugee camps, provides an important source of revenue for many Central Africans.
The country is self-sufficient in food crops, but much of the population lives at a subsistence level. Livestock development is hindered by the presence of the tsetse fly.
All photos by Spencer Platt/Getty Images Spencer Platt, a staff photographer with Getty Images, spent two weeks in December 2007 with MSF in the Central African Republic.

Gabon is one of the most prosperous countries in the region. It is a francophone nation and the capital is Libreville (which sounds like a street in the Vieux Carré here in New Orleans - Iberville, Bienville... Libreville. See?).

Simon Reeve travels to one of Africa's most expensive cities, Libreville, to learn more about the reality of the Gabon oil industry. Free video clip from BBC worldwide.

In Gabon traditional music is still very popular, and indeed it should be. It's great. Here you can see and hear an instrument invented by the original inhabitants of Gabon, the m'congo, played by a master in the village of Tchibanga, in southern Gabon. It is frequently played in iboga initiation ceremonies.You can find more about Gabon on my home page,

Brazzaville is the capital of the Republic of the Congo, not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo. French is the official language while Kongo/Kituba and Lingala are also recognized. Wikipedia includes the following:
However, Congo's democratic progress was derailed in 1997. As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted. On June 5, President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private militia (known as "Cobras") to resist. Thus began a four-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville and caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths. In early October, Angolan troops invaded Congo on the side of Sassou and, in mid-October, the Lissouba government fell. Soon thereafter, Sassou declared himself President. The Congo Civil War continued for another year and a half until a peace deal was struck between the various factions in December 1999. The National Expansionary Growth Regional Operation was signed with representatives of Democratic and Patriotic Forces to end the conflict and work on rebuilding the heavily damaged infrastructure.
Sham elections in 2002 saw Sassou win with almost 10% of the vote cast. His two main rivals Lissouba and Bernard Kolelas were prevented from competing and the only remaining credible rival, Andre Milongo, advised his supporters to boycott the elections and then withdrew from the race. A new constitution, agreed upon by referendum in January 2002, granted the president new powers and also extended his term to seven years as well as introducing a new bicameral assembly. International observers took issue with the organization of the presidential election as well as the constitutional referendum, both of which were reminiscent in their organization of Congo's era of the single-party state.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a former Belgian colony that has gone through various name changes since independence, including Zaire. The capital is Kinshasa. Wikipedia has the following:
Following the First Congo War which led to the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997, the country was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Second Congo War, beginning in 1998, devastated the country greatly and involved seven foreign armies and is sometimes referred to as the "African World War". Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues in the east of the country. In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. The war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people.
[Emphasis mine]

I just had to re-do the graphic because a new flag was adopted in 2006 and in my collection of saved flag graphics I had the older version.

Clashes in Democratic Republic of the Congo's North Kivu province continues to force people to flee. The violence in the eastern province has also hampered efforts to bring aid to the most needy, with some roads and entire villages cut off by fighting. The displaced are in need of shelter and UNHCR is now constructing new camps.

You all know that I like to add some bits to reinforce what we have explored. There are no grades or punishment or humiliation, just teasers.

Holy One, the earth and all its peoples belong to you and you hear the cry of spilled blood, the anguish of the oppressed, the brutalized, the hungry, the injured and diseased. Pry open our closed hearts and unstop our ears that we may not be blind or deaf to the plight of our sisters and brothers. Show us what we may do to stand with the people of Central Africa and work with them for a better tomorrow, and grant us strength and courage to do it. Have mercy upon us all.

--the BB