Sunday, April 30, 2006

April is national poetry month

Stephen Crane and Carolyn Forché(University of Albany photo)

As is so often the case, I’ve been dallying, so I’m writing about this under the wire as it were, although most of you will only see it no sooner than Monday, May 1st.

Now, I am no poetry expert. In fact, a few years ago when I still subscribed to the New Republic a more poetically-inclined friend used to chide me for never reading the poems, TNR being one of the (very last) national mainstream periodicals that regularly includes contemporary poetry, although I’ll admit you’re probably as likely to see a copy of it at your doctor’s office as Granta or the Kenyon Review.

Anyway: non-expert or no, I thought it would be a good thing to visit the world o’ verse to see what, if anything, today’s poets are saying about the war. The first thing I found was Amiri Baraka’s “Somebody Blew Up America,” which is posted on his web site. Baraka was born LeRoi Jones in 1934 but changed his name in the 60s, and many people associate him and his work with that era. Somebody Blew Up America was composed in October 2001, and you might regard it as anti-semitic. To me, some of it is very powerful. Nevertheless, I will admit I didn’t care for his suggesting that the Jewish employees were warned not to go to work at the trade center on the 9-11. It's a canard I’ve heard elsewhere too, although I don’t think it originated with Baraka.

I had a little difficulty finding post 9-11 political verse on the net. I specifically was looking for verse from contemporary established poets as opposed to ordinary shmoes like yours truly-- not because I am one who thinks that a writer who lacks academic imprimateur is inherently not worth reading-- I don't-- but because I saw writing this post as an excuse to investigate what today’s academic poets are saying about the war and related matters.

I suspect many poets are leery of the power of the web to jerk with their intellectual property rights, and poets as a rule are not particularly well-renumerated writers, unlike say, the Million Little Pieces guy. Initially, I thought that perhaps Baraka was fairly singular among poets of his generation in having his own website, but I note that current US laureate Ted Kooser(born 1939) does too. Kooser’s site is much slicker and I couldn’t find any actual verses represented, just links encouraging you to buy his books. There is an interesting Kooser quote at wikipedia:

"Every stranger's tolerance for poetry is compromised by much more important demands on his or her time. Therefore, I try to honor my reader's patience and generosity by presenting what I have to say as clearly and succinctly as possible .... Also, I try not to insult the reader's good sense by talking down; I don't see anything to gain by alluding to intellectual experiences that the reader may not have had. I do what I can to avoid being rude or offensive; most strangers, understandably, have a very low tolerance for displays of pique or anger or hysteria. Being harangued by a poet rarely endears a reader. I am also extremely wary of over cleverness; there is a definite limit to how much intellectual showing off a stranger can tolerate."

A case could be made that this is a political statement(It's from the Midwestern Quarterly, from 1999.). But I am (otherwise) at a loss to glean any political views from Kooser.

Maybe younger poets are more likely to have an internet presence, like poetess Shanna Compton*(born 1970), and Jesse Ball(born 1978. He also doesn't post any verses at his site.)-- it’s hard to say. I did find the Nation article “Poets Against the War”(from early 2003) which includes a statement co-signed several modern American poets, including former US poet laureate Rita Dove(‘94-95) and W.S. Merwin. An excerpt:
a few of the works posted on "Poets Against the War," (, the website set up by Sam Hamill, poet and editor, when he called for poems and statements against war in Iraq. At last count, there were 8,200 entries. Hamill's summons to poets followed Laura Bush's invitation to a symposium on American poetry at the White House, which was "postponed" when it was learned that antiwar poems were to be presented.


It would not have been possible for me ever to trust someone who acquired office by the shameful means Mr. Bush and his abettors resorted to in the last presidential election. His nonentity was rapidly becoming more apparent than ever when the catastrophe of September 11, 2001, provided him and his handlers with a role for him, that of "wartime leader," which they, and he in turn, were quick to exploit....

Finally, a very brief sampling of US political poetry:

1.Only obliquely about war and politics, is Whitman’s ode to Lincoln upon his assassination:

the Library of Congress link to the proof sheet is here. (Double-click the above image for the full-sized version for easier reading.)

2.After Whitman’s dirge to Lincoln, I’m guessing that Stephen Crane’s "War is Kind" may be the most famous of US war poems. I haven’t included it here because even though it's public domain, it's on the long side, and because his oeuvre is fairly readily available online. But here’s a shorter Crane:

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

Ok, one more Stephen Crane. “The Successful Man”. Because I’m fond of Crane, and because this one makes me wonder what he would’ve thought of a certain well-known 21st century politico:

The successful man has thrust himself
Through the water of the years,
Reeking wet with mistakes --
Bloody mistakes;
Slimed with victories over the lesser,
A figure thankful on the shore of money.
Then, with the bones of fools
He buys silken banners
Limned with his triumphant face;
With the skins of wise men
He buys the trivial bows of all.
Flesh painted with marrow
Contributes a coverlet,
A coverlet for his contented slumber.
In guiltless ignorance, in ignorant guilt,
He delivered his secrets to the riven multitude.
"Thus I defended: Thus I wrought."
Complacent, smiling,
He stands heavily on the dead.
Erect on a pillar of skulls
He declaims his trampling of babes;
Smirking, fat, dripping,
He makes speech in guiltless ignorance,

His poems are like that-- unrhymed, often consciously epigramatic, and reflecting a jaundiced view of humanity. Also, they don’t have titles, and are generally referred to by their 1st lines. Crane’s verse is arguably “pre-Kafaesque”, because even though their timelines overlap somewhat, Crane was dead by 1901 and I believe that none of Kafka’s works were published until after his death in 1924, so Crane could never have known about Kafka.

3. Mark Twain’s War Prayer, which is also kind of lengthy; I posted it at HZ the week before the Iraq invasion, here. Twain wrote it in 1905 about the US war with Spain, and could not get it published in his lifetime**. Also, more readably, here.

**I find myself idly wondering if 15 or 20 years from now we'll find out about a a short play that Arthur Miller may have written in response to 9-11 and its aftermath.

4. Denise Levertov(1923-1997) was born in England but came over here in the 50s and became a US citizen. She was active in protesting the Vietnam war. From her work:

What were they like?

In California During the Gulf War” (1991)

and an excerpt from “Advent 1966”:

because of this my strong sight,
my clear caressive sight, my poet's sight I was given
that it might stir me to song,
is blurred.
There is a cataract filming over
my inner eyes. Or else a monstrous insect
has entered my head, and looks out
from my sockets with multiple vision.
5. Jumping around a bit chronologically, Howard Shapiro’s(1913-2000)poetry is often associated with WWII. (He fought in the Pacific theater.)

from “Hospital”:
Kings have lain here and fabulous small Jews
And actresses whose legs were always news.
not all war poetry is inevitably grim.

6. Carolyn Forché teaches at Skidmore College in upstate New York. Some 25 years ago she wrote:

"I have been told that a poet should be of his or her time. It is my feeling that the 20th century human condition demands a poetry of witness. This is not accomplished without certain difficulties. . .If I did not wish to make poetry of what I had seen, what is it I thought poetry was?"

and, also from the early 1980s, Forche’s The Colonel:

What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daugher filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home.

He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around, he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air.

Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

Forché went back to El Salvador 12 years later. Some of her comments are here.

Other soldiers said it was not uncommon to cut the ears off the corpses of rebels to verify enemy casualties to commanders. But officers said they frown on the practice.

"Sometimes in battle, my men get excited and cut the ears off the dead terrorists," the lieutenant commanding the army unit said. "It is not something we order, but sometimes the excitement of the moment overcomes them."
7. Finally, although he’s neither an American nor a versifier, Harold Pinter’s Nobel lecture(December 2005),“Art, Truth and Politics” is here.

additional links:

Here Comes Everybody: the writers on writing blog

* from Shanna Compton’s blog, Hal Sirowitz’s
The Hawk Who Became a Dove”(2004)

Correction: Initially I wrote that Carolyn Forché was presently teaching at George Mason U., because they still have a link up for her info. In fact, she's teaching a writer's workshop at Skidmore this summer.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

who is this Wally LaFeber and why does he hate Condi Rice?

One of the things that has never ceased to exasperate me about many elements of the right in America is their propensity towards (ready) accusation of personal animus when their figureheads are criticized on substantive matters. This is of course more than a little ironic when you consider how readily the right reduces politics to dubious assertions of personal qualities, like their implied argument that oil family scion George Bush,jr should be president because "he's just a regular guy", a trope that's currently being trotted out for '08 hopeful (and senatorial nonentity) George Allen. (Besides his occasional ejaculations of folksiness, what has this guy actually done?)

But I digress, even before tackling the matter at hand: the matter being your pal and mine, secretary of state Condaleeza Rice. I've been mystified for some time by her apparent ability to deftly manage people's impressions and remain above the muck in which Bush and Cheney and the rest have become mired down. Here is what Cornell prof Walter LaFeber said of her recently(via Eric Alterman):

Rice’s Georgetown speech is less a movement back to the realism and multilateralism exemplified by her old mentor, Brent Scowcroft, than it is a repackaging of failed neoconservative policies that seeks to disguise regime change with the rhetoric of Wilsonian democracy, and that hides a lack of actual multilateralism (and badly needed legitimacy) with such misleading phrases as “coalition of the willing,” or, in this case, “partnership.” If the second Bush administration does understand the historic mistakes made by the first Bush administration, it cannot by proved by Rice’s appearance at Georgetown. Acheson advocated the Marshall Plan and NATO. In stark contrast, Rice advocates nothing that might institutionalize “partnership.” She offers only the suggestion that the United States “localize our diplomatic posture” and create more “virtual presence posts” in which American diplomats can exchange computer messages with the target audience. It is not a bad idea, just irrelevant to the need for rethinking and radically readjusting U.S. foreign policy. To rephrase, the Rice doctrine revealed at Georgetown never confronts the administration’s failed assumptions about human nature, spreading Wilsonian democracy, and what true partnership with allies should mean.

(emphases mine.) Incidentally, speaking of mentors and who the heck LaFeber is, I note that both current NS advisor Stephen Hadley and Sandy Berger studied with LaFeber, and they of course were, respectively, the national security advisors who succeeded and preceeded Rice in that post.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Monday the 24th, as I mentioned, was Armenia's genocide memorial day. I meant to note that the 25th is Holocaust memorial day in Israel, but I've been remiss...

On an ostensibly different topic-- do you do image searches? Not too long ago none of the major search engines had this function, but now Google and Yahoo! have this feature. Even Lycos and AltaVista, for the eight or nine people still using them, will do image searches. Now, also apropo of my discussing the revised previous post, I thought I'd share these interesting searches with you:

the 1st set of five is the top five images for "holocaust" via Google image search with the unfiltered, "safe search off" setting. There are three settings, the middle, "moderate safe search" being the default. When I ran that, I got the same top five results. But this is what I got with the third, "strict filtering" setting:

a symbol(!), the Mogen David, doesn't make the cut, neither does the iconic photo of the Dachau prisoners staring at the photographer, while the images of bodies stacked like cordwood appears twice.

I am not criticizing, just observing. I know that the search engine people, at Google and elsewhere are under enormous social and political pressures that tug at them hither and yon, and to some extent these decisions are essentially made by machines. Nevertheless, I wondered why the star and a picture that humanizes the victims of the deathcamps, shows us their faces, were discarded by the setting for good boys and girls, while the image of bodies piled up was o.k. Both searches are from Thursday night, 27 April '06, between 11pm and 1am.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

United 93

left: from, right: a still from the upcoming film, "United 93"

I posted this a couple of days ago, but have added a couple of brief additional comments below. Also, I have been cross-posting, including this post, at Arvin Hill since Monday while he's out of town. "Spartacus O'Neal" is subbing for AH as well.- JV

here's the letter I posted in response to Stephanie Zacharek's review of United 93 at Salon:
"making money making movies"

As I write this, I note that the previous letter writers are virtually unanimous in condemming the making of this film as inherently exploitative, irrespective of the points of views that might be expressed, and any other thematic underpinnings.

I have to disagree. Although I can understand this reaction, I think it's wrong because making narrative works and sharing them with the world, profit or no profit, is also about deciding
who gets to tell the story, not just how it's told.

How is declaring the 9-11 narrative sacrosanct any different from a war supporter venomously decrying anyone who disagrees with his interpretation of the meaning of soldiers' deaths? I haven't seen this picture, living here in the middle of the country in a middle-sized town, and I don't know what I would think of it. But I know that as long as the 9-11 narrative is sacrosanct it's only one narrative, the one we don't dare talk about. This film may spur the creation of another about events of the same day, one that's screechingly jingoistic. Or another that tries to be humanize the hijackers. Or both, and more.

Meanwhile, the deification of the 9-11 dead has been used to launch a war designed to glorify a president and to stifle dissent. And arguably, to predispose people to accept, little by little, life in a prefascist state as normal.

I remember when the 911 emergency tapes were released, without the voices of the callers, except when their survivors "gave" their permission. While I
don't believe the occasional conspiracy theory about how the towers were supposedly filled with preset explosives, it occurs to me that when you condition people to see it as normal to create for the dead these kinds of privacy rights, authoritarian leaders can use these expanded expectations that certain things are off limits to cover up their screwups and misdeeds.

We have to start talking about 9-11.
although some of the letter writers seemed like they were written by idiots, this one struck me as worthwhile:
Nothing New:
Movies made about ongoing events, made for propoganda, profit and/or because someone thought it made a good story are nothing new.

On TMC, during their 31 days of Oscar, I saw a movie called "So Proudly We Hail". The movie takes place in the Philippines during WWII. It tells the story of some military nurses who managed to leave before the American forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese. Most of the nurses did not get away and ended up being captured by the Japanese. The movie was made in 1943. From what I've read, at the time the movie was made it was not known what had happened to the nurses who were left behind. Their families didn't know if they were alive or dead.

I'm sure that was no more or less upsetting than "Flight 93". This sort of thing has been going on for a long time. I'm not sure why the events of 9/11 are seen as so much more traumatic. Maybe having TV and being surrounded by media has changed our impression of things.

by "4 greyhounds"

Friday, 28 April: I realize it was and is harsh to suggest that the majority of commenters for this article left idiotic comments, not only because it was tacky, but it was ultimately untrue(there were fewer than 10 letters when I posted my entry; the last I checked there were around 120. And while there where additional ones that struck me as lacking substance, there were also several worthwhile ones.)

Initially, I was just going to change the above sentence, "...although some of the letter writers seemed like they were written by idiots..." I decided to keep it in and comment on it instead, as I'm going to discuss internet revision(-ism) in a couple of subsequent posts.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

possible polling divorce, more on Hu

from Steve Soto's Left Coaster, via Avedon:

CNN Says Goodbye To Gallup - Surprise, Bush Hits 32%; 55% Say He Isn't Honest
The rumored divorce between Gallup and CNN is a fact (will Gallup go to Fox?). And look what happens. The new pollster's first poll shows Bush falling to 32%.
Soto notes that the democrats supposedly have a ten point advantage going into the mid-term elections. People may well tell the pollsters that, and mean it, but I don't believe it. Every time the dems are ahead they panic, and ask themselves what they need to do to seem more non-threatening so that they might snatch defeat from the jaws of victory supposedly lock in their lead, as if voters' perceptions were tradeable mutual funds. As the Roman poet Juvenal once said, fortune favors the bold, you dumb motherf***ers. (I paraphrase.)

I've been looking for a non blog corroboration of Soto's assertion regarding the split between Gallup and CNN, but have not yet found it. Although I did find this, from Mediabistro's TV Newser:

Yale Restricts CNN Producer During Hu Visit [from last Friday-JV]:

"A CNN reporter was thrown out of a private reception in Yale President Richard Levin's office after he shouted a question about whether Hu had seen more than 1,000 protesters gathered on the city green," the Associated Press reports.

The reporter was Joe Vaccarello, an associate producer in the U.N. bureau...

The AP quotes a Yale spokeswoman who says Vaccarello was thrown out because "we invited you to cover an event, not to hold a press conference." But "as far as he knew, there were no restrictions," a CNN source says.
The reporter "was escorted out of Woodbridge Hall by police," the Yale Daily News added.

cross-posted at Arvin Hill.

Wang Wenyi: the Faun Gong heckler

from Cursor:
Dana Milbank catalogs the 'Host of Indignities' that greeted China and its president, as charges are filed against the Falun Gong heckler, who faces up to six months in jail.
see also:
"feds lower boom on Hu's falun gong heckler:"

Wenyi Wang, 47, a devotee of the Falun Gong movement, was originally booked on a disorderly conduct charge after she crashed Thursday's White House ceremony. But the U.S. attorney's office later decided to charge her with harassing, intimidating and threatening a foreign official for yelling at Hu that his "days are numbered."

"Falun Gong heckler leaves Bush red-faced"
Independent Online, [South Africa] - Apr 20, 2006

"President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong," the woman yelled. US officials later identified her as Wang Wenyi, 47, a reporter with The Epoch Times, an English-language publication strongly supportive of the meditation movement that is banned in China.

"Pro-Torture, Pro-Tyranny Media Rebukes Brave Falun Gong Protester"
Prison Jones-Apr 23, 2006

After listening to talk radio in the hours after the incident, we were sickened to hear radio hosts and callers attacking the demonstrator for daring to interrupt President Bush, claiming that it sent the wrong message to China in that the US was not able to manage geopolitical events smoothly.

They were actually insinuating that it was an American virtue to silence free speech and dissent and that the demonstrator made the country look weak to the visiting Chinese despots.

This was echoed by news anchors across the nation. Watch the video and notice how the CNN presenters express relief when the secret service finally grabs and drags her away.

The Drudge Report[!] picked up stories about how not only Chinese TV but also CNN International had tried to censor the protester:

"On China TV: As Hu was speaking when yells of protesters became audible, the screen went black. When the feed came back the screen once again went black when woman was again heard. During CNN International's post-speech commentary, at mention of south lawn heckler, the screen also went black again. The CNN feed returned when the incident ended."

Derek Mitchell, a former Pentagon advisor told the Associated Press that the spectacle was an embarrassment because China, "must know that this Bush administration is good at controlling crowds for themselves, and the fact that they couldn't control this is going to play to their worse fears and suspicions about the United States, into mistrust about American intentions toward China."

The only embarrassment is Mitchell - he is an embarrassment to what it means to be an American. How dare this boot-licking pond scum piece of trash equate the image of America with crowd control and the wholesale abolition of free speech? The Bush administration's taste for staged-managed public town hall meetings and "free-speech zones" would sit perfectly with the Chinese dictatorship as shining examples of how to create the false perception that dissent is only confined to the fringes of society.

from Mykeru: "Falun Gonged":

Nothing will get you your ass handed to you in DC like fucking with one of the administration's photo ops. Since the Bushistas don't have much of a policy, or a plan, not to mention a clue already, and Bush himself is chalking up an approval rating of 33% which is, coincidentally the same amount by which federal spending has grown during his administration -- explaining why real conservatives aren't fond of Bush either -- while the war in Iraq is going about as well as one of Dick Cheney's hunting trips, just on a much more tragic scale, the only thing that Bush and company can do semi-competently is stand there and have their picture taken, trying to act all presidential and shit...

Mykeru also discusses the semantic grey areas regarding what Ms.Wenyi actually said, here.

For my part I am struck by the irony that this middle-aged Chinese lady who never hurt anybody will in all likelihood end up with a felony conviction that will hang on her shoulders for the rest of her life, while in all likelihood Bush has a sealed-record drug conviction from the 70s that we aren't allowed to talk about. And she'll go to federal prison for what? For heckling a totalitarian dictator, and therebye embarassing a mass murderer? Well, yes.

some additional links:

tianamen vigil


Monday, April 24, 2006


photo: Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello

Helmut posts this photo of Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo(State of Siege) apropo of an NYT article about him. He also notes his(Prof H's) upcoming anthology On Torture(2007) which will feature a selection from Goytisolo. All this time I was visiting phorenesisiacal, readily offering opinions on this and that, blithely unaware that H was Doctor H. Now I feel like something of a boob. Nevertheless, I thought that posting this image here today was appropriate, since today is genocide remembrance day in Armenia, a weighty topic that dovetails with some of Goytisolo's literary concerns.

David Neiwert's question

This past Thursday Dave Neiwert of Orcinus wrote:

Yesterday being the 11th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, I suppose I should just be grateful that, this year at least, we're not cursed with an Ann Coulter profile in Time.

Still, every year since 2002, this sad anniversary reminds me of a question I still haven't heard answered:

Why wasn't
April 19, 1995 the "day that changed everything"?

After some difficulty I left this comment:

Aside from the obvious answer of Clinton and Reno, I'm thinking that one of the reasons the right didn't try to make the government a police state in '95 was because at a certain level McVeigh, coming at it from the far right, represented a convergence with the far-left critique of state power that would have applied just as surely if it was George Sr's 2nd-term administration that had staked out and attacked the Davidians with tanks on 19 April 1993.

Pursuing the McVeighs in our midst-- and I agree with the previous commenters that they surely are more than a mere hundred-- means recognizing the distinction between radicals who are merely racists and worshippers of authority like the minutemen, and the other, more disquieting kind.

Republicans and their poodle press don't want that distinction to be made apparent to ordinary people.

I realize I'm leaving levels of nuance out of this argument-- one one hand the neocons want the radical right to seem normal and non-threatening to ordinary Americans, on the other hand they don't want people to see that a certain strain of conservatism is profoundly antithetical to their agenda.

I am by no means an advocate of McVeigh's methods, and I know nothing about his views on race, but we still haven't fully absorbed the lessons of "4-19."

from Wikipedia's entry on McVeigh:

In a book based on interviews before his execution, American Terrorist, McVeigh stated he decapitated an Iraqi soldier with cannon fire on his first day in the war, and celebrated. But he said he later was shocked to be ordered to execute surrendering prisoners, and to see carnage on the road leaving Kuwait City after U.S. troops routed the Iraqi army. In interviews following the Oklahoma city bombing, McVeigh said he began harboring anti-government feelings during the Gulf War. Some question the veracity of this claim in light of McVeigh's [failed] attempts to become a Green Beret after returning from Iraq.

(cross-posted at Arvin Hill.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006




caption contest.

prizes galore.

(as a bonus, guess which of these three persons i most resemble.)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday middle eastern pop star blogging: Demet Akalin x 2

demet akalin-3

Thursday, April 20, 2006

believe it or not, occasionally you will see erroneous or misleading info on the internet

Yes, more fluff. Normally IMDb would put a (II) next to a second person listed with the same name. I'm guessing Sex Circus is an early work of proto-pornography, a la Russ Meyer's oeuvre. Incidentally next month will be Mary Astor's centenari-, centuri-...oh, I don't what you call it. She would've been 100 next month.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

assorted bits

1.guantanamo by the tigris, from uruknet.

1 b.the above item references a yahoo news story, whose url will probably disappear in a couple of weeks. the same ap story is also here.

2.slate: how to pick a kryptonite.

3.that colored fella: the covenant with black america...which reminded me of this "duh, really?" newsflash: whites republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black.

(via C&L.)

3b.which inevitably reminds me of this Wash Post story from a few months ago:

"Study Ties Political Leanings to Hidden Biases"

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 30, 2006; A05

4.gummint’s comin! quick, hide the dark children :

AP: States omit minorities' school scores


States are helping public schools escape potential penalties by skirting the No Child Left Behind law's requirement that students of all races must show annual academic progress. With the federal government's permission, schools deliberately aren't counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students when they report progress by racial groups, an Associated Press computer analysis found.

5.GOP defector says party is 'out of touch':
Voters want more than tax cuts, says Rep. Rodney Tom of Washington State...

OLYMPIA -- State Rep. Rodney Tom recently bailed out of the Republican Party, saying a rightward-drifting GOP has no room for progressives and moderates.

and,6.Micah Holmquist: “Support Our War Critics

drawing of scully n' molder courtesy Carol Nirino.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Newsday 911 tapes poll

Okay, you already know these online polls aren't scientific, etc. Nevertheless, they often measure things pollsters are otherwise unlikely to touch upon.This is from about 10am(central) this morning(I gather the photo is from an earlier story). Newsday has a primarily Long Island readership, unlike the NY Times.

what did you buy in the war daddy?

As some of you know I'm presently looking for a job, which is why I've been trying to brush up on my spreadsheet composing skills, which lay fallow in my last gig(as some of you also know.)
So, however belatedly, in marking the 3rd anniversary of George Jnr's war, I thought I'd share some of my spreadsheet practice with you, to whit:

*UTX march 20, 2003 price was actually 61.20. The number in the chart retroactively reflects a stock split. Nos. courtesy Yahoo finance.

Boeing makes the C-130 transport plane, Lockheed makes fighter aircraft, United Technologies's Sikorsky division makes the famous Blackhawk helicopter, Raytheon makes missiles, and I daresay Haliburton needs no introduction.

Is making a bucket of money off of a needless war wrong? How would I know, I'm not an ethicist! I'm just a guy who needs a job. I know how to do research of at least a cursory sort, how to make charts, and how to blog-- which may or may not be a skill. The modern age has brought us smart-bombs, to take the sting out of war, and specialization, to take the moral quandaries out of everyday life.

Monday, April 17, 2006

your right to (not have to) know:

from the AP: Nat'l Archives vowed silence on CIA papers:

The National Archives promised to avoid drawing "unnecessary public attention" to its efforts to remove declassified CIA documents from public view after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to a once-secret agreement with the spy agency.

The agreement was made public Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press. It provided new details on the efforts of the nation's chief historical repository to hide the fact that U.S. intelligence was secretly trying to reclassify approximately 55,500 pages of previously public documents.
Documents released last week to AP showed the Archives had agreed to refuse to disclose that the Air Force, the CIA
and another intelligence agency* had made the original request to remove the documents. The CIA agreement released Monday was not included in the documents made public last week...
The agreement with the CIA was dated
October 2001 and set the mold for a second similarly worded secret agreement with the Air Force just months later. The disclosure of the secret dealings between the archives and the spy agencies has prompted a public outcry, including from historians concerned that pieces of history were being secretly reclassified with no accountability.

Archivist Allen Weinstein said he didn't learn until last Thursday that
a second classified agreement had been signed by the archives, and he requested its immediate release. "There can never be a classified aspect to our mission," Weinstein said, promising that future agreements won't be kept secret...

[RANDY HERSCHAFT, ap writer]

Of course, this reminds me of this: 17 year old FOIA request still being processed,

Ten oldest FOIA requests in the federal government(Waco Tribune/Cox News Service):

Sunday, March 12, 2006

WASHINGTON - The National Security Archive at George Washington University on Monday (March 13) will release findings of an audit of the federal government's response to Freedom of Information Act requests. Below, according to the audit, are the ten oldest FOIA requests pending in the federal government.

March 23, 1989 -William Aceves, then a graduate student at the University of Southern California, filed four requests with defense agencies about the government's Freedom of Navigation Program. The requests have been pending for 17 years. Aceves is now a professor at California Western School of Law.

November 22, 1989 -The Post Standard newspaper in Syracuse, N.Y., asked the CIA for records pertaining to the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 and terrorist threats at the Frankfurt Airport.

May 29, 1987 (not received by the CIA until 1990) - The National Security Archive asked the CIA for documents relating to the case of Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. naval intelligence officer convicted of spying on behalf of Israel. It was held without processing for three years because of litigation over fees charged for handling the request.

March 3, 1988 (not received by the Defense Department until 1990) - Author Jeffrey Richelson filed a request with the National Security Council for copies of five specific Presidential Review Memoranda. The NSC sent it to the Defense Department in 1990.

January 2-3, 1990 - William Burr, a senior fellow at National Security Archive, filed two requests to the Air Force for information about the Berlin crisis in 1958 and 1959.

March 9, 1990 - William Burr filed a request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for specific Joint Chiefs of Staff documents relating to Berlin in 1959-1962.

July 16, 1990 - The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a request asking the Energy Department to provide documents related to the "Radiological Warfare Study Group" established in February 1948 by the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project as well as documents related to a panel on radiological warfare that met in 1948.

January 31, 1987 (not received by the Defense Department until 1991) - James D. Sanders, a private citizen, initially submitted this request to the National Security Council asking for documents related to U.S. prisoners of war in Laos, China, Vietnam and the Soviet Union. It is now pending at the Department of Defense because it took the NSC four years to send it to the Defense Department.

January 7, 1991 -Jeffrey Richelson submitted a request to the CIA asking for a copy of the CIA response to "NSDD 112." National Security Decision Directive 112 is about documents captured by U.S. forces in Grenada.

February 25, 1991 -Windels, Marx, Davies & Ives, a New York-based law firm, submitted a request to the CIA seeking information about Pan American Flight 103 and intelligence relating to terrorist attacks on Frankfurt, Heathrow or Gatwick airports.

SOURCE: National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library based in Washington. The audit is limited to 64 agencies that handle more than 97 percent of all FOIA requests received.

addendum: I vaguely recall that dealt with some of this beforehand, but can't find the exact link.

*what "other agency?" Emphases mine- JV

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark died thursday, at age 88.
Wikipedia notes that she worked for British intelligence during WWII, and that her 1st novel wasn't published until she was 39:

The Comforters[...] featured a character who knew she was in a novel; and in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie she told her characters' stories from the past and the future simultaneously. Kermode refers to the recurrent theme in her novels of of "the central question, why evil exists in a world made by a good God".

book cover from

Muriel Spark pics via BBC.

Friday, April 14, 2006

another screen capture:Brits look at the US

It's tempting to see this kind of aberrant behavior as being the result of living in an environment that is hostile to homosexuality-- it says "from the mountains of North Carolina" but not much else. Clearly Waynesville is not Haight-Ashbury, but I'm inclined to think that other sorts of mental disfunction may also be at work. Still, can you imagine if some future edition of the DSM had a repressed rural dweller syndrome?
("I couldn't help it judge, I have RRDS.")

I hope it's not too aberrant on my part that I found the advert amusing in this context.

the rest of the story is here.

Friday Middle Eastern pop star blogging: Diana Hadad

from I'm still not clever enough in my ongoing photo-manipulating self tutelage to figure out how take this pic and dress her in a non-leopardskin outfit; apparently she digs this sort of thing.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Taft-Hartley, spring 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I wonder

My impression is that hardly anybody reads HZ, and that at least 3/4 of the people who click here were just searching for something I happen to have keywords for in the text of thissere blog. So, while I normally wouldn't bother to announce that I won't be posting for a few days-- probably until Wednesday night-- I'm announcing this to see what happens to my referrer logs, etc. Be seeing you.

image via

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday middle-eastern pop-star blogging: more Nawal 4 U...

Lebanese pop singer Nawal al Zoghbi, occasionally referred to as al Zoughbi. She goes U-less on her own website.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Max Beerbohm's theft and restitution

Max Beerbohm: Theft & Restitution at Old Library Merton Col UK
best known today as the author of Zuleika Dobson, Beerbohm also painted. I understand that the original is located at the Merton Library, Oxford. So if you go there, don't steal it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

nuestros relaciónes con los otros

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

Jill Carroll, pt 3

you've probably seen the by now iconic image of Jill Carroll on the left, above. Over the weekend Editor and Publisher released the uncropped image to the right from which it was derived. The statement she issued clarifying her earlier comments is at the Christian Science Monitor, here.

(I was frankly surprised at the degree of venomousness that was directed towards her by some of the opinion-meisters of the right shortly after her release, although I suppose I no longer should be. It would be nice if we saw some sorrowful retractions, but maybe that's expecting a bit much. Although two things occur to me about her earlier comments: 1st, if she didn't want to talk to the US military, why is that something to apologize for-- if she had in fact said that, couldn't that just be seen as a matter of fatigue, and consequently not wanting to deal with any officialdom, military or otherwise?And secondly, if she was in fact experiencing some degree of identification with her captors, isn't that cause to be compassionate for her, and the trauma that presumably caused this, rather than criticize her?)

but more on the photo above:from E and P:

Borzou Daragahi, a Los Angeles Times Baghdad correspondent, was among the reporters who urged U.S. news outlets not to report on Carroll's Jan. 7 abduction during a 48-hour media silence that drew some criticism. He now says that initial delay allowed Carroll's supporters to carefully release information about her that promoted the most positive image. Included was a widely-published photo, taken by his wife.

"I was heavily involved in the initial effort to keep a low profile, keep a lid on the news," Daragahi said just hours after Carroll's freedom was revealed. "And part of the campaign to pursue a certain image of her - who she is, a very, very serious-minded person."

Daragahi said the delay in news reporting about her abduction gave "some measure over control of the message and time to figure out a media strategy. It gave us time to portray her in a way as the serious journalist she is before the media got a hold of one of her ex-boyfriends or something."

Daragahi pointed to the now-famous head shot of a smiling Carroll in dark, Middle Eastern women's garb that became the image of her during three months in captivity. He said his wife, Delphine Minoui, a freelance journalist based in Baghdad, had taken the photo last September at the Baghdad convention center, where much of the new Iraqi government business was being conducted. She and Carroll were there together on Sept. 5, 2005.

The original photo, which included an unidentified Iraqi woman, was taken in a convention center bathroom and later cropped by Daragahi to show only Carroll. "I cropped out everything except the picture of Jill looking smiling and nice," he said. "I only showed her looking very pious, that was the value of the picture."
He said his wife and Carroll had met the woman in the bathroom. "It was just a funny moment at the time that they were sharing," he recalled. "They saw this Iraqi woman who wasn't dressed like an Iraqi and Jill, who is not Iraqi, was dressed like an Iraqi. It was a funny moment."
Controlling the message. Showing her captors that she was a person, winning "hearts and minds." Perhaps the Christian Science Monitor and a guy from the LA Times know how to do this better than the best and brightest minds of the Institute for Near East Studies, the PNAC, and the rest of those puffed up would be experts who told us that we would be greeted as liberators.

Jill Carroll calling her parents from Iraq. Getty Images.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Is this chic, or just creepy?

I have finally learned how to capture and edit screenshots, so here is one, from AFP.


I have decided to pilfer this image of Bush,jr from Jonathan Schwarz, so I might engage in some shallow commentary, as follows:

what does this gesture mean? I have seen jr do this numerous times. To me it looks like he's trying to grasp a very large barrel. presumably this barrel is invisible, and only he can see it. also, he tenses up his shoulders whenever he attempts to open or grasp this magical, invisible barrel. maybe he's afraid that there might be a family of angry lemurs inside said barrel. or something else...

Saturday, April 01, 2006