Monday, October 31, 2005

my Victor Hugo, part 1

I suppose I could have waited till fev 26, M. Hugo's 204th birthday, to announce my design contest. But that's too darn long. Some of you already know I named this humble web log after Victor Hugo(1802-1885). Monsieur Hugo has been the titular saint, or avatar if you prefer, of my wee blog since January of 2003, since even before I knew how to post his or any other picture.

My original blog, simply and unimaginatively entitled "Versen," ran from April 2002 till mid-January of 2003, when I switched over to a pseudonym.

Originally I tried "hugonaut", as in after M. Hugo, but also a pun on argonaut and huguenot. But then I noticed this site and decided that wouldn't be cool. So my 2nd site passed through the blogging night, as it were, what with me posting less than a hundred words then abandoning it. It's a poor little defenseless blog, all alone in the cold world, and I don't even know how to bury it since I forgot my user name and password. Do you need my permission to hack it and take it over, planting the jolly roger in the midst of the template and sailing forth into hitherto uncharted blogging waters, making neocons and neoliberals alike walk the plank, showing mercy to none? How would I know-- I'm not a lawyer! But if U R man or woman enough, have at it. Just don't pretend you're me, lest we have to rumble. It's the code of the sea.

So: It's a peculiar story, that I blogged under my own name, switched to anonymous blogging, then back again. Hardly anybody noticed Versen in 2002 and I had maybe 500-600 hits in 9 months. Two people who did notice, Avedon Carol and Bill Scher, left me pleasantly shocked. I saw Avedon mention me in passing in early 2003, and then Bill blogrolled me at Liberal Oasis, one of the first, if not the very first to do so.

So: whether they like it or not, Avedon and big Bill are my cyberspace godparents. If they don't want to admit it, that's cool. (Periodically, Avedon has scolded me in private emails for saying all sorts of crazy shit, er, intemperate stuff at HZ but never done so in the public square of her blog, which is pretty classy. )

Sometimes those are sustaining experiences-- the mysterious folks at Cursor also linked to me around this time too. I had just discovered that there even was a lefty blogosphere in late 2001, thanks to Andrew Sullivan of all people, and I only knew about his blog because I subscribed to The New Republic in those knavish days, when I still thought they were righteous liberals. (2002 was also the year that I stopped subscribing to TNR after some 12 and a half years, because as much as I appreciated Stanley Kauffmann, the one-dimensional self-righteousness of their drumbeat for the Iraq war repulsed me in a way that their Israeli boosterism never did.

Anyway: then I decided to retool and start anew on 21 Jan 2003, the birth of Hugo Zoom . A mythic beginning? Not at all-- certainly not in the eyes of normal people. And believe me, I tried to be normal for I don't know how many years.

But I'm not particularly good at it. Once, before I came back out in the light of it's-really-me blogging on 1 August 2005, I left a comment at a certain lefty blogger's site that she better remove her link to chinchilla wrestler Hugo Schwyzer, as it was obvious that he had a made up name, unlike me, and I warned her that the blogosphere wasn't big enough for the two of us. To this day I have no idea if she thought that was amusing or merely aberrant. She was nice enough to leave my crazy-ass comment up.(No, it wasn't Avedon-- I wont tell you who.) I guess I could ask, right?

I'm all tuckered out. More tomorrow.

Hugo illustration via pvda, and
Hugo photo via atheisme

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday middle eastern pop star blogging: water/agua/acqua...

demet akalin sez water is yummy
image courtesy Demet Akalin

Normally I'd wait awhile before visiting Demet Akalin again so soon for FMEPS blogging, but she pointed out to me that I need to start taking care of my health and that water is yummy. You should start drinking more water too-- it's a lot better than the candy some people would rather offer, especially when they say you can pay later. Don't you think she makes a compelling argument?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Junior's chippy takes a dive

storm brewing-1
"Storm brewing near the Alluvial Fan, Colorado"
courtesy © Allen Matheson

I told you , on the fourth and the fifth, that this would happen to poor little Harriet. Nevertheless, I'm not gloating. Don't you gloat either, if you're smart.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Jacob my brother

Jacob Dones dimmitt tx

you were so much younger than me.

One of 7 soldiers who were killed was number 2,000, 7 whose deaths were noted yesterday in Iraq. One of them, Jacob Dones of Dimmitt,Texas was 21, and in country only since January 2005. I didn't find out about Jacob from the fancier members of the 4th estate like CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Fox News, even though they all took note of the number ticking over. When he was stateside he was stationed at Fort Irwin in Barstow, California, and the humble Barstow Desert Dispatch is where I found out about young mister Dones. He was actually killed last Thursday. The Barstow reporter, Adrienne Ziegler, notes that he had a five year old daugter and intended to get married when he got back. Ziegler also notes that the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is based in Fort Irwin, has lost 12 soldiers in Iraq thus far. I imagine the other six had names too. They still have names.

the rest of Ziegler's story about Jacob Dones is here.

image courtesy Barstow Desert Dispatch

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Money 4 Iraqdoc 2007, etc

You may have noticed the paypal link is down-- not that it was generating buckets o' dough. I will, however, have paypal up again shortly. In the meantime, if you are curious about the proposed project, I suggest you see my August 1st 2005 post. Additional biographical stuff can be seen at my 7 Aug and 7 Oct posts. If you were looking for a specific image and google's image search took you to my home page, I'd recommend you use the same words you use with a search like so:

"thing I want to see"

that's called a site-specific search: wherein you type the word(s) describing what you are looking for, then a space, then the word "site", a colon, then the URL you wish to search. Just use regular google. I haven't tried it with yahoo or A9 or any of the other big search engines, but you can try, right? for example:

"giant robots run amuck site:"

doesn't yield a single hit, which I must admit I find disappointing, as I imagine a bbc article on the subject would probably be ever so droll. Maybe I'm spelling amuck wrong.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Goodbye Rosa Parks

her 1 December 1955 arrest for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white person;
image via

Rosa Parks(1913-2005). the BBC just announced her passing.

what I wrote in their "have your say" forum:

Her life meant more than her death. Now that she's gone, gone is a living a reminder of an era when it was still possible for an ordinary person to stand up against a profoundly unjust system and get the world to notice without dismissive, noisy babbling idiots coming on the tv to tell us how to think about it. By my reckoning she died 38 days shy of [the 50 year mark of] her history-making act of quiet defiance.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday middle east pop star blogging, yet again...

farah al-baraqawi
courtesy al-jazeera, via Abu aardvark

The above image, as I you may know, is of al-Jazeera economics anchor Farah al-Baraqawi. I've heard that George W. Bush and puppetmaster Dick Cheney are suspicious of al-Jazeera, and feel that they promote terrorism. You can tell, just by looking at that haughty, rebellious look in Ms. al-Barqawi's eyes, that she probably belongs on a watch list and should be denied entry to the US if she wanted to attend a conference at Sachs Goldman or Citigroup in Manhattan, and if it were further inside the heartland, say in Kansas City or Chicago, then mothers with young 'uns would surely cover their children's eyes and hurry them inside if they saw her brazenly walking down a public street. Well, the good ones would.

demet akalin-1
courtesy Haber vitrini
On the other hand, there's Turkish pop singer Demet Akalin. Besides, when I was a kid I always hated it when I was told I couldn't look. How about you?

see also:

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Some good recent posts

Jonathan Schwarz: "One Jolly Afternoon" (my picture reader readers will like this one,about Judith Miller, and her pals.)

Khalid Jarrar on the Iraqi election, here. (oh, yeah, that...)

Michael at Lunaville writes about the good news in Iraq in "Mr Death"

from Don "please stop asking me where you can find a mechanic for your Fiat" Bintz, "

I have an idea! Let's not investigate each other!"
When I read this I couldn't help but think of 1-hit wonder David and David's
"Welcome to the Boomtown" from 1986, one of the happiest and unhappiest years of my you remember? The song, not my personal travails.

and Barbara at the Mahablog says:
"I’ve been watching MSNBC’s Hardball this week, even though I swore off a couple of years ago. Truly, it’s better than Six Flags. There are thrill rides–Chris Matthews and guests go swooshing through the murky depths of rightie disinformation, shoot up to a brief moment of clarity, then tumble down again...

...As someone, I believe Eric Alterman, once said, television producers seem to think “balance” means that if someone on your program says the earth is round, you have to give the views of the Flat Earth Society equal time and respect. As if there were no such thing as objective fact."

What? No pictures? Ok, ok...
la femme:Isabelle Adjani-1

This is Isabelle Adjani, who played Victor Hugo's daughter in Truffaut's L'Histoire d'Adèle H. Methinks she was (and is) one of the most sublimely beautiful women in the history of cinema.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tantalized, or reception theory is your friend

its-my-fucking-body-from-feministing-dot-com BBC-mysterious girl
1.courtesy feministing 2.courtesy BBC/AFP

I almost hate to quote Haroon Moghul because what if you click on the link and never come back? I can't have that. He's quite an interesting fellow, and he might even be smarter than me, which used to bother me in the days when I was young and foolish. Now that I'm older and foolish, I recognize that when I encounter truly smart people it is not necessarily a threat to my ontology, er, my being.

Anyway: the picture on the right is from Haroon's post "the desi colonization of the west, or 'Islam's getting in the way of my website.'" Possibly you will find it entertaining. I did. The one on the left is from feministing. I found it when doing a search looking for something else altogether. I hope the feministers won't be sore at me for nabbing it.

What do these 2 images have in common? Well, here's the comment I left at Haroon's:

If the garb actually makes you want to see her face even more, would this upset
1.Islamic fundamentalists more,
2.Christian fundamentalists who want to feel superior to Islam more, or
3.some other possibility that hasn't occured to me? What's behind door(s) number 3?

see also, the story of Tantalus, from

and remember: if I start puttin' on airs and gettin' all fancy, you can always look it up in Wikipedia, or start your own blog...

This post was approved by Samuel P. Huntington. If you don't believe me, ask him. When I was setting up my Amazon honor system thingamajig the other day, I found myself wondering if Huntington has a wishlist and would really like a copy of Jesus Jones's greatest hits... Seriously though, If you want to send me money for IraqDoc 2007 via regular mail, send me an email via my yahoo address and I'll tell you where to send it.

Monday, October 17, 2005

IraqDoc 2007: 48 days later

Last week my friend Don Bintz wrote to me:

My thinking regarding your starting to collect funds for Iraqdoc is that you should just go ahead. What you plan to do is an important project. It's not like you're trying to get money to shoot a comedy. When you get to Iraq, you'll be recording the aftermath of the life-and-death struggle going on now (or the struggling might still be going on). That's not light entertainment. I think the seriousness of the subject matter makes it appropriate for you to solicit funds in the shadow of the Kashmir and Guatemala events. Anyway, my two cents.

Ok. It's true, I've been dragging my feet in starting to ask for funding for the documentary project because of recent catastrophic events and my subsequent feeling that shilling for dough was unseemly. First Katrina, then Houston, then Kashmir and Guatemala, to say nothing of tragedies elsewhere.

So: I set up an Amazon honor system account. More details on how they work can be found at Amazon, here.

Please don't buy me stuff off my wishlist as that's there just to remind me of books and movies I'm interested in eventually reading/seeing, etc. Have I ever linked to it? No, and I'm not going to. And I'm going to wait to buy Euro/Middle East spec video equipment when I go to Europe next summer, if I get the summer 2006 job I'm angling for. (Still too soon to say if it will come together, as you might imagine.)

Correction, @ 9:00am: I thought I had my Amazon honor system account set up correctly. Maybe they need some lead time before they allow the icon to appear on your site. I will investigate.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

LA at night

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday middle eastern pop star blogging: Elissa

elissa or Alissa-2R
image courtesy Arabic

One of the problems with translating from another alphabet is that there's often little standardization about how to spell a name. Amazon has some of this lady's albums,and they spell her name Elissa, but I've also seen Alissa and Alisa. Whatever-- here she is.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

a brief note

the mysterious somebody(??) who signed up seems to have abandoned it.
I recognized that I had to claim it, so I did.

R U who I think U R?

and yes, it took me darn near forever to figure out the significance of the numbers...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

8 October 2005

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday middle eastern pop star of yore: Fairuz

Fairuz fairuz-dot-com
image courtesy

Fairuz was born Nouhad Haddad in 1935 to a poor Christian family in Lebanon. She was really big throughout the Arab world in the 50s and 60s, and quite a few of her albums are available at Amazon.

In 1969, her music was temporarily banned in Lebanon by the government because she refused to sing at the honor of visiting Algerian president Howari Boumedianne.

In 1970 I was in the 1st grade in Beirut, and unaware of Fairuz, because that was grown-ups music, although I was aware the Beatles had broken up. One day my paternal grandmother in Connecticut sent me a poster of all the world flags of the UN member nations, and I donated it to my class and the teacher put it up on our wall. A day or two later a couple of Lebanese Red Beret soldiers came by and told Mrs Mansour to remove the Israeli flag from the poster, which she did, naturally. Of course they did this because somebody must've told the authorities and because Lebanon did not recognize the Israeli government, but I didn't know any of that when I was six. The soldiers probably gave a brief speech explaining themselves, but I don't remember what they said. All I remember of my impressions of that day was my sense of surprise that something we 1st graders did somehow caught the attention of the world out there, and the soldiers.

see also Fairuz online.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

template problems, etc


I've removed my links temporarily just because I'm having various html related problems.

I also note that someone else has staked out I guess the blogosphere is big enough for both of us, but I hope that if this person decides to do more than just register the url sub-domain that s/he makes it clear that we are two different persons, and doesn't try to represent himself as me. Otherwise I won't be happy. I started out at, where I posted from April 2002 until mid January of 2003, then started posting here in that month of January 2003.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Harriet Miers, pt 2(an undoubtedly short series)

If you want to read what some of the more august internet liberals have to say about our poor friend Harriet, there’s this At Salon, and this mind-numbingly snotty article at Slate, here*.

but if you go to the letters section responding to the Salon piece you’ll find someone who actually gets it:

The fact that Harriet Miers has never served as a judge nor worked on constitutional law at all during her career should automatically eliminate her from even being considered for the Supreme Court…
Hurricane Katrina taught us the dangers of cronyism. Let's see if we've learned our lesson. Democrats should have fought the Roberts nomination with a full-on, in-your-face,
take-no-prisoners filibuster.
Roberts was the one we didn't want on the court
He's the dangerous one. Miers is a pawn. The neocon and religious right is furious about her nomination, but I can't help thinking that they're in on the joke.

Bush nominates someone who is not qualified, both the right and some on the left do not confirm her, and then Bush brings in the big gun -- someone so extreme as to make Antonin Scalia look like a cuddly teddy bear. Democrats will be too scared to reject that candidate for fear of being called obstructionists by the ditto-heads. The neocons and the religious right have been waiting for this moment since the New Deal. They're playing hardball, and Bush has gleefully served as their lapdog. It is time for us all to be on guard, and hopefully Democrats have started sprouting spines.

-Sue Voelkel

For my part I think there’s a perfect strategy with dealing with the 1-2 punch to the solar plexus of the New Deal that the NeoCons are setting up: Barach Obama. He was more than happy to participate in gutting the bankruptcy laws that were there before his political ascendancy, so we really need to find something useful for him to do besides photo ops with Oprah that show how much he cares. (And as an aside-- which one of them spoke truth to power more meaningfully in New Orleans?)

In South Park, Chef was upset when the black troops were sent out as cannon fodder for the big showdown with Canada, and understandably so. So I say to you, O Democrats, send forth the junior senator from Illinois into the fray. Between him and Trent Lott, sundry GOP nonentities will know they’ve got bipartisan cover and smelling the blood in the water they’ll jump in too.

Meanwhile fancypants senior senators with an eye to 2008 can tut-tut the man from the land of Lincoln for his intemperance, and the goofballs who do whatever tells them to do will send volley after volley of fearsome electrons hurtling through cyberspace to the PCs of senate staffers who may get tired of ordering new keyboards because they keep wearing out the delete key.

Or, as Dave Chapelle, channeling John Wayne might say,

“Keep Your Powder Dry B**ch*s, Let the N*gr* take care of this one…”

(well-- I think he’d say that…)

reactions, please:

a. you shouldn't say stuff like that. Clearly you are intemperate.

b. I think Harriet Miers would make a capable supreme court justice. Fie on you.

c. According to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Dave Chapelle is
not allowed to channel JohnWayne until he's 116 years old, so you are in error.

d. What? No pictures?

*an addendum: I was specifically referring to Reed's 4 Oct grammar post, in which I think he misses the point, gliding right past the implications of a judge preoccupied by grammar, perhaps because he recognizes stating the point clearly would remind people of Clinton's famous comment about the nature of the word "is"...(?)

I actually agree with some of Reed's observations regarding Rahm Emmanuel. When I started working on this post, the 10-4-2005 Reed entry was the latest of which I was aware.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Harriet Miers

harriet miers-reuters-yuri gripas
Harriet Miers
photo: reuters/yuri gripas

harriet being led by GWB AP
George W.Bush is excited to introduce Harriet Miers. AP photo

Live sheep arrives by lorry for slaughter at Great Orton airfield, Cumbria, March 28, 2001.
Photo: Owen Humphreys, PA/ Guardian

Monday, October 03, 2005

Harry Belafonte at the caucus

harry belafonte-usa4africa-org

from the Baltimore Times:

"I am looking at the ravages of the Democratic Party, and I am trying to decide:

Is there anything worth salvaging?"

-- Harry Belafonte, to the Congressional Black Caucus.

...and yes, I know what you're thinking: those kids don't look like they're old enough to vote, and you seriously doubt the pic was taken at the caucus. Fair enough; but

1. you should know about the organization from which I got the image(they do good work), and

2. I couldn't help but reflect that there are quite a few non CBC grownups who need to be listening to Harry too.

image from USA for