Monday, February 27, 2006

the brochs

Dun Carloway, on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland,
via the Scotsman.

from "Towers of stone – the brochs of Scotland" Caroline Wickham-Jones, an Orkney Islands anthropologist says that

Brochs comprise circular stone towers, apparently built to house the elite of a community and also to provide safety for everyone in a time of need. There is an element of display in their size, as well as an element of defence. They developed out of a tradition of circular stone dwellings, enhanced by master builders who knew exactly how to make the most of local stone resources...
They provided precisely for the needs of the resident Iron Age communities. This was a time of local enmity and petty warfare and it was a time when power was exercised through control and conspicuous symbols of wealth.

Iraq body count map 2-27-2006

NO LA, etc

Broadmoor neighborhood, New Orleans, via "frogmation" at WikiCommons, via "Saving the Neighborhood" by Michelle Goldberg, at Salon.

"a good thing"

a screenshot from Fox News from this past Thursday, via Media Matters. I looked for a link to a transcript at Fox's site but couldn't find one. MM claims this view is from approximately 130pm eastern time.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Feb 25

Ali-Liston: the 1st of their 2 fights, Feb 25th, 1964. Via Mike Palmer.

Friday, February 24, 2006

back to reality


before and after: Samarra's al-Askari mosque(BBC)

atwar bahjat 2-23
montage via Marc Lynch

al-Arabiya's Atwar Bahjat, and two members of her crew, Adnan Abdullah, and Khaled Muhassan were also killed on Wednesday. I imagine Jill Carroll must be aware of these happenings, held wherever she is. I think the last deadline her kidnappers gave was this for Sunday.

"Half Sunni, half Shia - a target for everyone" (Times Online UK)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

th' Hungarian parliament

I found this at an outfit called desktopia, which offers wallpapers. I know what you are thinking-- the Hungarian parliament building? Wallpapers are supposed to feature supermodels or hot cars, or at least puppies. Well if you look closely(yellow arrow), there is a Hungarian supermodel-in-training driving by in her Fiat, and I have it on good authority that she has a puppy with her.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What's your sign?

courtesy Vancouver artist Luc Latulippe, who has a really swell site. He insists his creation above is a Pisces(?!) if it's your birthday, and you...want to meet someone who looks good when she dresses like this, or you want to dress like this, or...what have you-- well, happy birthday.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Detroit Red

Malcolm X was assasinated 41 years ago today, possibly by persons associated with the Nation of Islam. Growing up I was always told by my aunt that "black muslims" as she called them, were not "real" muslims, although she never said why. (I am not a muslim, real or otherwise. My mother, who was not particularly religious, didn't have an opinion about the matter, but did note that her sister had a lot of opinions about many things.)
The Heretik notes that Malcolm said that you don't have to be a man to fight for freedom, just an intelligent human being.


As you probably know, Whittington apologized to Cheney and his family(!) when he spoke on Friday. For making the VP feel so bad when he shot him. It would've been a nice touch if he apologized for his complexion, and being so dang tall.
(It was difficult to find a photo of Whittington with the unnamed man behind him. This one is courtesy the Washinton Times.) When I saw them on CNN, I noticed that as Whittington spoke and paused, the young man would smile and nod at most of the pauses, as if he was his minder, sent along to make sure Frank doesn't deviate from the script. If Konrad Lorenz was alive, he'd say that the reason you apologize when the other party has injured you is because you still have reason to be fearful, no?

1."Food for thought"

Avedon says:
"I was over at The Corpuscle looking at the post on online values ("Lots of discussion lately about how big multinational corporations have to cave in to local ordinances in order to do business inside repressive regimes"), and I keep wondering why big multinational corporations don't have to cave in to local ordinances in order to do business inside places that don't like pollution, corruption, and fraud."

2.from the Martini Republic:Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi
February 17th, 2006

Unfazed by inherent ironies, a Muslim cleric who objects to the portrayal of [the prophet] with a bomb in a turban sets a bounty on the head of the cartoonist.
Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi, prayer leader at the historic Mohabat Khan mosque in the conservative northwestern city of Peshawar, announced the mosque and the Jamia Ashrafia religious school he leads would give a $25,000 reward and a car for killing the cartoonist who drew the prophet caricatures - considered blasphemous by Muslims.

2b.Zeynep Toufe says that most of the persons killed in danish cartoon riots have been the protestors themselves.

2+2b=...2c? It occurs to in that, while in many muslim countries the clergy are whipped up into a lather by the government, and they in turn get the populace upset, because the gov't wants the populace distracted from local problems and have their dissatisfaction focused on the west instead. (I dimly recall reading that in the early 20th century, American politicians were said to "twist the lion's tail" and bad-mouth the Brits for similar effects.)... But now, in the US, we have an administration that seems to take its marching orders from the clergy, at least if they are sufficiently wacky, then the free press takes their orders from the government, then the populace gets upset. I imagine I'm oversimplifying.

2d. I went to Walgreens the other day, and couldn't help but look at the "Royal Dansk" cookies, as I wondered if a Dentonite or two might've bought out their stock as a screwy sort of anti-them solidarity. They had lots of cookies, but the familiar blue tin didn't look right. They were still 2.99, but had shrunk from 16 ounces to 12. Scandalous. As a consequence for their cost-cutting perfidity, I've decided to boycott Danish cookies. Well, because of that, and because I need to lose weight. Ok, mainly because I need to lose weight.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Saddam and Nelson Mandela have the same tailor?

Thomas Meaney of Slate quotes Saddam’s unnnamed tailor:

"I'm very sensitive about these matters," he reportedly told his former tailor, who also cuts suits for Pervez Musharraf and Nelson Mandela.(??)

2.clumsy segue:for many years Iran built a car called the Paykan, which was based on a defunct Peugeot model. Seems people are fond of these cars but like to joke about their unreliability:

Q. How do you make a Paykan accelerate 0 - 60 mph in less than 15 seconds?
A. Push it off a cliff.

Q. What is found on the last 2 pages of every Paykan owner's manual?
A. The bus schedule.

Q. Why do Paykans come with heated rear windows?
A. To keep your hands warm while you're pushing them.
more here.

3.even though I generally don’t care for Albert Brooks’s humor, I found this quote(via Gary Farber) amusing:
Brooks: I heard one the other day. These two Jewish men travel the subway everyday for years and years and read the Jewish Press every morning. Then one morning one of them is reading an Arabic newspaper and the other one says, “What's a matter with you? Why are you reading that paper? Have you lost your mind?” He said, “No. To tell you the truth all I read in the Jewish Press is that Israel has been blown up and that the Jews aren't allowed to enter and that life is terrible. In this paper it says we own all the banks, we own the media. Life is much better in this paper.”
4. "Sorry we missed church", from the Austin Chronicle (via Cursor.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

we will be greeted as liberators

From Mr. Dooley in the Hearts of His Countrymen (Boston: Small, Maynard and Co., 1899):

Whin we plant what Hogan calls th' starry banner iv Freedom in th' Ph'lippeens," said Mr. Dooley, "an' give th' sacred blessin' iv liberty to the poor, down-trodden people iv thim unfortunate isles,--dam thim!--we'll larn thim a lesson."

......... "We can't sell thim, we can't ate thim, an' we can't throw thim into th' alley whin no wan is lookin'. An' 'twud be a disgrace f'r to lave befure we've pounded these frindless an' ongrateful people into insinsibility. So I suppose, Hinnissy, we'll have to stay an' do th' best we can..."

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936)

Minneapolis Journal cartoon via PBS

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ronnie Peterson (14 February 1944-11 September 1978) was a hero of mine when I was growing up, in part because we shared a birthday. To this day he is Sweden's most successful race car driver in Formula 1, even though he never won the world championship.

He died on the Monday morning following the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, from an brain embolism caused by a small globule from his marrow traveling up to his brain. I remember that I heard about the accident on Sunday evening, but all they said was that he had two broken legs and was conscious, which didn't sound so bad, so I was surprised to hear he'd died when I came home from school on Monday. Many years later I read his wikipedia entry, and found out that his wife Barbro killed herself in December of '87.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pat Neff and the laughing Shriner
Texas State Library Archive

Pat Neff was a Texas governor for 2 terms, from 1921-1925(they were 2 year terms back then.). This photo is from the Texas State Library in Austin, taken in Waco when he was running for office, circa 1920. The incident in South Texas with Cheney shooting another hunter this weekend* reminded me that I had this photo and have been meaning to post it. Neff had a reputation as a great conservationist, and there is a state park named after him. I don't think he ever shot anybody.

*the White house is blaming Whittington, the 78 year old guy Cheney shot, for the incident(!), and said that they didn't announce the incident to the press for nearly a day because they wanted to protect Whittington's privacy(!!). Magnanimity beyond words.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Last Tango in Terre Haute

Last Tango in Paris-1 bw
see, that title just wouldn't have worked, so they had to set it in Paris. It's a little hard to believe, 30 plus years later, that Last Tango was released with an X rating, as it seems a lot less naughty today.

I note that ImdB saysthat there's an Italian cut of the film that's 250 minutes long(!) , which is a good 2 hours longer than the US/UK version.(maybe they mean 150 minutes, which would make a lot more sense, and make it roughly 20 minutes longer. ) The Freudian underpinnings of Brando's characterization also may make it seem dated to some people, although for me his performance here stands up a lot more than his overrated one in The Godfather from around the same time.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Juan Soriano: 1920-2006

Juan Soriano died yesterday in Mexico. Although he came a little after them, he was the last of his generation of painters and sculptors which included such figures as Orozco and Diego Rivera.

bird sculpture from Portrait and "La serpentia azùl" from

Friday, February 10, 2006

as usual, I'm shocked...

speaking of Wikipedia, wikinews has an article up entitled
"Wikinews investigates Wikipedia vandalism by United States Senate Staffers", here.

apparently Diane Feinstein doesn't want you to know she's worth over 25 million dollars, and Conrad Burns would rather not let you know he once referred to certain people as "ragheads." Too bad.

I am curious, Blue

kasparov vs deep blue IBM

Ten years ago today a supercomputer beat a number one ranked chess grand master for the 1st time. The Russian flag for Kasparov I understand, but the other one puzzled me, as you might imagine. According to Wikipedia, this is a promotional IBM photo, from here:

I went to, and sure enough, this was another Wikipedia hack, as "thetech"
had the correct US flag. A pretty skillful hack , too. But I fixed it, and the US flag is back at Wiki. I'm guessing the photo-hacker won't claim copyright infringement.

mo' Fri ME pop star bloggin': Roula Saad

yes,the image looks a little fiddled-with, as if by photo-manipulation software, like she wasn't originally standing before that backdrop. Twasn't me, I just cropped it to make it fit. Th' pic came from ArabicCelebrities.Com. Miss Roula isn't as big as Nawal al-Zoghbi or Nancy Ajram, etc, and doesn't appear to have her own website(?), so it's a mite harder to find images of her.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

thursday misc

Bush peeking in
via TalkLeft.Com

some bits from here and there in the blogosphere:

"...Gonzales said that it was impossible to answer such a hypothetical question but that it was "not the policy or the agenda of this president" to authorize actions that conflict with existing law. He added that he would hope to alert Congress if the president ever chose to authorize warrantless surveillance, according to a transcript of the hearing.'
For republicans "hypothetical" means "we have not been caught doing that yet".

-Jason of Delaware liberal.

and Bob says:
It seems pretty obvious to me that the most incompetent ruling party in US history gets to do everything it wants only because it exists contemporaneously with the most incompetent opposition party in world history. If you can´t oppose the war in Iraq or Scalito, you are incapable of opposing, period.


and, Juan Cole's "top ten myths about Iraq in 2005"

which includes:

6.[the myth that] There is a silent majority of middle class, secular-minded Iraqis who reject religious fundamentalism.

I want to know, how does Cole know? Sure, he a respected mideast scholar and he teaches at Michigan, but has he even been to Iraq since 2003? I don't claim that I know the opposite to be true, but one of the reasons I mean to go to Iraq in 2007 is to investigate for myself. Eric Alterman wrote something similar in December at Altercation when he said

"I have always shared Peter Galbraith’s analysis that the only post-invasion solution to Iraq’s political problems is to split it up in three parts. So, too, apparently, do Iraq’s voters, here. Congratulations to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and all the liberal hawks on the strengthening of Iran’s fundamentalist, terror-exporting regime by giving it a third of Iraq as well, (and at the cost of only tens of thousands killed, hundreds of billions wasted, and who knows how many terrorists created)."

I think Alterman happens to be right about how BushCo desicions have helped to bring about the situation that exists today. Nevertheless, that doesn't make the implicit inevitability of a three-state solution valid. Alterman links to an LA Times article about the December 15th election, and proceeds to divine pearls of wisdom about the stirrings within Iraqi hearts, which happen, coincidentally, to align with what he thought would happen and should happen all along. How about that. I have a PhD and therefore, you should listen to me. Harrumph.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Finally, a way out

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "A surprising group of protesters is starting to voice concerns about the high level of spending on the U.S. occupation of Iraq: the defense industry. While many companies benefit from supplying vehicles and guns to U.S. troops in Iraq, some defense firms and industry experts are concerned that money spent on Iraq is taking away from more lucrative, longer-term multibillion-dollar programs."

the image is from Newcastle-Emlyn. the caption:
"Bush takes a keen interest in the fate of civilians slaughtered by his high tech weaponry..."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

It's all true

I have a sure-fire way to remove those miserable Netflix popups,
I have Angelina Jolie's telephone number(hello puzzled Googlers!), and this is not a pipe. Ok, so none of it is true. I think.

But I have been nominated for a Koufax for most humorous post(probably by me, but why quibble?), for "Powerline Style" from last February! Isn't that awesomely awesome? If you want to support my quest to raise money to go to Iraq in the summer of next year to film IraqDoc 2007, an inexpensive way to do this is to vote for me for most humorous post so that I may become a semi-finalist or even a finalist and maybe raise the profile of this blog so that people become aware of the IraqDoc project and send me money, whether via Paypal or your Amazon account.

Or you can email me and I can give you a regular "snailmail" address here in Denton. The Amazon deal takes as little as one dollar, and I think I see 82 cents if you actually do that, but the percentage chunk is smaller for larger amounts. If you have questions about what I'm trying to do with the proposed documentary, you can also email, or leave a comment below.

(If you have an Amazon account and are leery of dealing with Paypal, clicking on the Amazon button to the right takes you directly to their site and they disburse the money to me, less their fee, and it's anonymous, unless you tell me about it.)

And if you want to see the links to all the nominated posts, it's here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

happy new year...

chinese dog stamp

Pulgasari-poster-from wiki

JV-no 2-pirate
If only I could sell this "original Versen" fiddly bit to finance my doc. Ha. I call it "my pirate ship". (I'll admit I forget why.)

Chantal Karam
Chantal Karam, Lebanese beauty queen. I think she was Lebanon's Miss Earth last year.

a sign between posts

quran quote 5-32

If you are wondering about my ability to write Arabic, it hasn't suddenly taken a quantum leap; rather the above script is a GIF from the front page of Muslim Aid, a well-known UK muslim charity. Right now I'm having a decidedly conflicted, ambivelant reaction to the Danish Muhammed cartoon dust-up. I've been working on a lengthy post about it, as well as the wreck of the Salam-Boccaccio98, a huge, devastating common carrier accident which may yet yield a thousand dead but which hasn't received a lot of attention, perhaps because people are focused on these stupid cartoons. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons were originally published in September. Why are people suddenly reacting to them now, nearly six months later? I find myself increasingly skeptical of the motives of people stirring things up on both sides of the divide. Xymphora observes that perhaps this whole brouhaha started because of right-wing politicos in Denmark wanting to press the case for anti-immigration legislation, and that sounds about right to me.

But I also wonder if demonstrations in some Muslim countries are "spontaneously" occuring because the ruling classes recognize that focusing the discontent of the locals on the west might serve their purposes. Bashar in Syria is reputed to rule with an iron grip, and you'd think that if he really didn't want these demonstrations in Damascus, they simply wouldn't happen. But with George,jr suggesting from time to time that he'd like to invade, one can well see that he might be feeling vulnerable, and eager to capitalize on an opportunity to give Syrians an opportunity to vent some ire towards the west. I'm reminded of Mookie(Spike Lee) throwing the trash can into the window of Sal's pizzaria to save his boss from an angry crowd in Do the Right Thing; a scene that you usually have to explain to white folks, but not to blacks.

Friday, February 03, 2006

February 3rd, 1959

from “the limitations of numerology

You’ve probably heard the phrase “the day the music died” and know it was the day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a small plane crash on the way to a gig. It was 47 years ago, today, and the wikipedia folks have an entry.

I didn’t know this:

'The Big Bopper had developed a case of the flu during the tour, most likely from riding on the unheated bus, and asked one of Buddy Holly's bandmates, Waylon Jennings, for his seat on the plane; Jennings agreed to give up the seat. When Buddy heard about this, his reply to Waylon was "Well, I hope your old bus freezes up!", to which Waylon replied, "Well, I hope your plane crashes!" This trade of words, though made in jest at the time, haunted Waylon Jennings for many years afterward.'