07 January 2006

This is the funniest thing I've read in a while


I was being too politic yesterday when I wrote "I don't know what to say about Ariel Sharon". I actually have this to say: for many years I considered him a war criminal and a hard-liner who stood in the way of peace. I don't think we can rewrite a man's life just because his policies may have changed in the 11th hour.

I'm convinced that any moves on Sharon's part towards peace (or, towards reconciliation with Palestinians, including conceding land, or towards whatever he thought he was doing which might not have had anything to do with peace) were due to pressure from the U.S. for the last couple of years.

And notice this: George Bush is not a peaceful man. If he was the initiator in any way, I truly believe it has something to do with some nefarious end game of his. Bush believes in Biblical prophecy, and for all I know, he's working to bring about his own version of Armageddon.

'Nuff said. I just wanted to be clear. I do believe a peson can redeem himself. I just don't believe that's what we've witnessed. Save the eulogy until he's passed away, for starters. And then, perhaps, save it for someone more deserving.

06 January 2006

A Rant

I really don't know what to say about Ariel Sharon and his declining health. I don't have much of anything to add to the already extensive discussion on Israeli / Palestine.

Personally, I support having two free democratic societies, side by side, supporting one another, helping each other, old emnities buried. Nothing else makes sense. And I'm frustrated that it seems such a lo-o-o-ng way off.

I take the long range view: I understand that given our short range myopias, peace can never break out: How can we trust them, they've hurt us thus far, they don't like us, they're not like us, the only good one is a dead one, etc etc. However, given a long range view, nothing but peace that makes sense for your grandchildren's grandchildren. You KNOW that the other side will still be around - face it, they've always been around. And it doesn't make sense for you to still be fighting them. Everyone should be able to eke out a comfortable and happy living from the land. Everyone should be safe within their homes, towns, cafes, movie theatres, schools and places of business. Likewise, everyone should be able to visit Jerusalem and access other places they consider holy.

My main concern in this world is: how do we heal it?

How do we heal the region in such as way that Israelis and Palestinians can sit together in peace? I think it comes down to healing individual by individual, and that can only start after we've stopped the bleeding. This means, stop oppressing each other, dammit. Stop blowing up people and stop invading people's towns. BOTH of you. Grow up, already.

There's simply no excuse for bad behaviour. And while I'm at it, that goes for the rest of you, too.

03 January 2006

Bad Science

"Pirates Cause Global Warming". According to Pasta-farians (see Wikipedia on Flying Spaghetti Monsterism), Global warming and other natural disasters are a direct consequence of the decline in the numbers of pirates since the 1800s.

Similarly, The Sydney Morning Herald printed an article today claiming that:
Having an abortion as a young woman raises the risk of developing later mental health problems - including depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse - according to the most detailed long-term study to date into the divisive question.
Sorry. I can see one reason why having an abortion might lead to mental problems. I can see a few dozen reasons as to why having incipient mental problems (or physical problems that will eventually lead to mental problems, or social problems that will eventually lead to mental problems, or societal problems that will eventually lead to mental problems, or familial problems that will eventually lead to mental problems, etc.) could encourage a young woman to have an abortion.

The article stated:
At age 25, 42 per cent of those who had had an abortion had also experienced major depression at some stage during the previous four years - nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant and 35 per cent higher than those who had chosen to continue a pregnancy.
These numbers leads me to conclude that any woman who got pregnant had a 50% increased likelihood of depression than their peers. Should we discourage pregnancy as a way to avoid life experiences and the corresponding traumas?

Perhaps well-adjusted women practice birth control more successfully. Perhaps women in supportive nurturing famiies and relationships (who are, to some extent, spared mental illnesses due to nurturing environments) are more likely to keep their pregnancies to term.

The women were never interviewed as to why they got abortions or their attitudes toward abortions.

The researchers' intent was not political. However, a set of misunderstood results could be.

01 January 2006

Post Script (What a Difference a Day....)

The temperature outdoors reached 40 about an hour ago today, and with high winds, this means extreme fire danger. I thought the winds would bring a surcease to the heat, but rather than delivering a thunderstorm, they simply increase the change of random lightning. There is now a total fire ban in Canberra.

We haven't yet heard any news about local bushfires, but we can smell them. The sunlight is filtered through a almost imperceptible orange haze, giving that sensation of late afternoon long-shadowed light three hours early. We're about three suburbs in from high density tree populations, so we're most likely to be safe, but whatever lawns and footpaths surround our house are littered with last year's eucalypt leaves.

Shane's concerned. Tomorrow's his birthday and he's invited friends down to the river for a late afternoon swim and cool-off. Should bushfires occur out that way, we'll be in a heavily wooded valley, one that's been hit by fires before. Radio and phone cantact is limited at Uriarra. How will we keep abreast of the danger?

My fear is more direct and visceral. There is a river, so I think we can avoid direct contact with flames. I'm frightened (possibly childishly) by the possibility of a bushfire rolling right over the valley and sucking out all the oxygen.

I'll let you know how it goes.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Last night when we went to bed (4:39 AM, 1 January, 2006, Australian Eastern Daylight Time, GMT+11), the house had finally cooled down to a civilised 27 degrees. This morning, four hours later, it's back up to an uncomfortable 28 (80 and 82 F, for those who haven't shifted to metric). I'm struck by my subjectivity; that not only is such a slight difference even perceptable, but it can completely colour my mood. [Postscript: several more hours on, and it's reached "stinking hot", at 32C/90F. It could get even higher here, but it probably won't since it's gotten overcast. It's 3:15 PM which makes it 45 minutes to midnight in Buffalo, and the weather forecast there said 32F/0C. Light snow. Heaven.]

My Blog's been a "World of Warcraft Widow", as I've been off playing some game or another, and not keeping up with the world. Sorry for the lame excuse, because it's really much more than that. I don't write, and I know I don't write, because somewhere deep inside I have a broken view of the world, one in which I am not important, that no one wants to hear what I have to say. This is the mis-belief that keeps me from staying in touch with my relatives and my friends back home, all of whom I miss dearly. That is my deepest darkest secret, and one that I desperately hope no one else believes. And yet I allow myself to hold it, as if it were sacred. I allow myself to hold such a misguided view of the world, knowing full well that I would have a hissy fit if any of my friends (and probably even if any stranger I met) had such a low opinion of themselves.

And I wonder if the opposite is true, if whether I use this belief to "stay small". I'm reminded of the famous quote from Marianne Williamson (sometimes misattributed to Mandela):
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

My friend Chris tagged me with this meme a few days ago, and so I have to respond. Mine is a slightly shortened version:

Seven sevens

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
1. Continue to love Shane with all my heart
2. Fix the world
3. Paint
4. Learn another language
5. or two
6. Play drums
7. Travel: I want to visit Europe, and I'm dying to visit the arctic circle and see the Aurora Borealis.

Seven Things I Cannot Do
1. Run fast, run far.
2. Lose weight easily.
3. I can't yet play a good tremelo on violin.
4. Lose another friend.

Seven Things That Attract Me to…Blogging
1. I want to express myself.
2. I kinda need to express myself.

Seven Things I Say Most Often
1. I'm tired.
2. I don't matter (said internally).
3. Faux-baby language to my sweetie-dog. (Senga's full name is "Dog fo Senga". Can you spot the bad joke?)

Seven Books That I Love
1. Any of Stephen Jay Gould's. Caveat: his later work is a bit too florid for me and his earlier pieces occasionally have "dated" science (evolution is a quickly unfolding field! (pun intended)).
2. Guns Germs and Steel - Jared Diamond's summation of why history more or less unfolded the way it did. It had everything to do with the availability of domesticable plant and animal life in different regions as well as the much easier cability for technologies to spread along the east-west axis rather than north-south.
3. Pride and Prejudice. The detail of the interactions among players is gorgeous.
4. Undaunted Courage - the story of the Lewis and Clarke expedition. Despite what Ive been told are its failures, it showed me that I really like well-written history.
5. Maus - I read the first few installments of this book back when it was published in Raw and for me, it was my first real introduction to the power of comics. Previously, for me, comics were either superhero comics (yawn!) or immature (but titillating) Underground comix about dope and sex. Sure, I cut my teeth on them, but they were never art.

Seven Movies That I Watch Over and Over Again
1. Brazil
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
3. Camelot
4. Fiddler on the Roof

Seven People I Want To Join In Too
1. Ingrid
2. John Buckley
3. Judy Clonan-Smith
4. My dad
Only one of these people has an online presence. And one has passed away.

Thanks for listening.