taerowyn: (Amused)
Just confused myself...started writing livejournal, then twitter. Came up with litter.com.

Anyway, had to share the best. theory. ever: Would be funny if the Obama infomercial were just a replay of the old Star Wars Holiday Special.
taerowyn: (Default)
The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is basically a writing contest to write the opening sentence to the worst novel possible. It's also known as the "It was a dark and stormy night" contest. This years winners were just announced.

Grand prize:
On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained. -Ms. Rephah Berg

A few more winners and honorable mentions )
taerowyn: (Default)
Reading a book, The Happy Isles of Oceania, and this just kind of made me think of past, present, future and all:

Many people told me how European-looking [Melbourne] was...I didn't think so. It was more spacious, much younger, and had more of the aspect of a city in the American Midwest. European cities have a damaged and repaired look. Melbourne's most American feature was that it was obviously a city that had never been bombed.
taerowyn: (Happy Beluga)
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." - Charles Schultz
taerowyn: (Default)
Really good article on common misconceptions of Islam or Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Islam.

7. Culture is not religion. So much of the oppression and misogyny (female illiteracy, "honour" killing, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, physical abuse, etc.) we hear about in quasi- and pseudo-Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran stems from patriarchal cultural customs and baggage and not from Islam, although it's always "justified" sixty ways to Sunday with supposed religious dictates and self-serving interpretations of scripture.

If any of these countries actually thoroughly implemented Islam as intended and honoured the spirit as well as the letter of the "law," women, for example, would not only have far more rights and freedoms than they currently do in any of these countries, but the behaviour of men and the actions of governments would have to change so radically that you would probably not recognize these countries at all. Islamic concepts and requirements are that different from how these countries currently operate.
taerowyn: (Thoughtful Book)
Received a variation of those emails "Don't buy gas for a day...that'll show 'em." This one was taking a different approach, more along the lines of "just don't buy from Exxon and Mobil, they'll be forced to lower their prices due to lack of demand and the other companies will follow." Somehow I doubt it and besides, I don't buy from those companies anyway because of their general business/environmental practices.

But there was a little something that caught my eye:

I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from. Major companies that import Middle Eastern oil (for the period 9/1/00 - 8/31/01).

Shell 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco 144,332,000
Exxon/Mobil 130,082,000
Marathon 117,740,000
Amoco 62,231,000

If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

Citgo 0 barrels
Sunoco 0
Conoco 0
Sinclair 0
BP/Phillips 0

All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and can be easily documented.

Refineries located in the U.S. are required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing. They report on a monthly basis.

Now I don't know about "easily documented" because I went to the DOE site and tried to find this info and was unable to, but then I didn't try all that hard. It is a point to ponder when buying gas though.
taerowyn: (Default)
In a much improved mood and very much looking forward to the weekend. I think missing out on a restful weekend to paint did not help. This weekend I'm going to catch up on my reading and laze about in the sun and just do as little as possible. It will be ever so nice.

However, on a much less happy note, does Yucca Mountain scare the shit out of you, cause I know it does me? Pretty good point made here:

Enter Yucca Mountain-the mythological solution. If it clears all political, legal and engineering hurdles, the mountain could open for business in 2010. By then we will have more waste, about 63,400 metric tons, on our hands....And what do you know-that's already more than the 63,000 metric tons of civilian nuclear waste Yucca is designed to hold. That's right: The morning Yucca opened, we would already need a whole second Yucca Mountain.

It seems to me the only arguement supporter's have is "look, it's a crappy solution, but it's the best one we have...let's do it." Somehow "nuclear waste" and "crappy solution" just doens' make me all that happy.


Mar. 21st, 2002 01:54 pm
taerowyn: (Default)
I have a good friend who is trying to become a police officer. He found this on a cop sitePolice Harassment )
taerowyn: (Default)
Something from my favorite non-fiction author, Chet Raymo:

et me speak for gray.

Not black or white. Good or evil. Truth or falsity. Yes or no.

Let me speak for well, maybe. Sort of. More or less. I think so.

Let me speak for tempered certainty.

Until now, I was reluctant to speak for gray for fear of being considered wishy-washy. Indecisive. Unprincipled. But lately it seems as if we are surrounded on every side by zealots, and it's not a pretty sight.

We are surrounded by people who are so certain of their Truth that they are willing to strap bombs to their chests and walk into crowded pizza parlors. Or fly airplanes into towers. Or hurl vicious epithets at young children walking to school. Or bomb abortion clinics. People who would subvert American principles of civil liberties to fight those who have no principles of civil liberty.

Flag-wavers and flag-burners. Fundamentalists of the right and fundamentalists of the left. ''It's America's fault they hate us'' and ''Bomb them into the Stone Age.'' There's an ugly stridency in the air, too many people who are certain God is on their side, too much certainty with a capital C.

So, why does the world look gray to me? After all, I was raised in a tradition of Absolute Truth. I was taught that infidels will burn in hell, at least those guilty of ''culpable ignorance.'' At university, I used a textbook called ''Theology and Sanity'' by F. J. Sheed, the thesis of which was that any sane person must agree with the author. ''Armies of youth flying the standards of Truth,'' we sang. There was much good in my early education, but not much gray.

But I was studying science, too, and the history and philosophy of science. I saw an evolution of truth with a lower-case t. I saw people who held their cherished beliefs to the fire of experience, and who changed their minds when their tentative truths failed the test of fire.

When a group of Britons established the first modern scientific society in the 17th century, they took as their motto, ''Take no one's word.'' They believed the only reliable guide to truth was the evidence of the senses. And even the senses can be deceiving. Which is why they embraced the experimental method. Reproducibility. Observations that can be repeated by anyone, and that always give the same result.

Many people think of science as a body of knowledge - the germ theory of disease, evolution by natural selection, Newton's laws of motion, that sort of thing. Well, yes, it is. But these things are tentatively held, with varying degrees of certainty. More fundamentally, science is a way of thinking. A way of thinking that rejects absolutes.

Of course, one can't blow hither and yon on a sea of uncertainty. To be useful, any system of knowledge must be confident of itself. To do scientific work at all, one must start with convictions. But every good scientist must be radically open to marginal change, and marginally open to radical change.

Science works in shades of gray.

Which is not to say that science has all the answers, or that scientists are more perfect human beings than nonscientists. There are other paths to truth: tradition, intuition, poetic imagination, the shaman's wisdom. But anyone who has had a good scientific education knows how easily we slip into unwarranted certainty, no matter what the source of truth.

Our current regression from gray into black and white has a parallel in ancient Greek thought, as described by E. R. Dodds in the last chapter of his classic book, ''The Greeks and the Irrational.'' He tells of the great age of intellectual discovery that began with the foundation of the Lyceum in 335 BC, and continued until about 200 BC. Horizons expanded. For the first time in history, it didn't matter where a person was born or what was his ancestry. Individuals began to consciously use traditions rather than be used by them. The scientific way of thinking was invented and briefly flourished.

But there was, Dodds writes, a fear of freedom, a longing for the old certainties. Greek culture slipped back into irrationality. Superstitions revived. Authority and tradition again became arbiters of truth. Tribal gods regained their old sway.

A confident, cautious, openness to gray reverted to the rigid polarities of black and white.

Dodds blames the Greek retreat from rationalism on an ''unconscious flight from the heavy burden of individual choice which an open society lays upon its members.'' Any culture that is free must be willing to live with gray. Democracy is gray. Tolerance, internationalism and ecumenism are gray.

Gray isn't easy, but it's the planet's best hope for a civilized future.

So if you liked that, here's a few more:

In search of universe's point

These heroes battle microbes

Universe's story unfolds in pictures


Jan. 2nd, 2002 07:06 pm
taerowyn: (Default)
Just finished a very satisfying book, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I recommend it to any and all. One of my favorite passages:
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"I would." She sounded angry now. He wondered if bringing wine to the dinner had been a wise idea. Life was certainly not a cabernet right now.

"It's not easy to believe."

"I," she told him, "can believe anything. You have no idea what I can believe."


"I can believe things that are true and I can believe things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Mister Ed. Listen - I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkley lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone's ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicting and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from stateto state. I belive that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and i still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we'll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of the Worlds. I believe that the greates poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind's destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it's aerodynamicaly impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, and there's a cat in a box somewhere who's alive and dead at the same time (although if they don't ever open the box to feed it it'll eventually jut be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of casual choas, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly. I believe htat anyone who claims to know what's going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman's right to choose, a baby's right to live, that while all human life is sacred there's nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

I do so like, so very much. Anyway, you should go read it. Now. What are you waiting for?


Dec. 12th, 2001 11:14 am
taerowyn: (devil)
Yet another reason to miss Long Island. Colorado papers, strangely enough, do not carry The Boondocks. But the web does so all is well. Here are a few gems from the past few months:

Oct. 9

Oct. 11

Oct. 15

Oct. 17

Oct. 22

Nov. 15

Nov. 22



Nov. 15th, 2001 08:01 am
taerowyn: (Default)
I miss having this guy as a professor. He's a great writer, a funny guy, and usually has something intelligent to say. A rare quality in this day and age. Anyway, it's a good article, enjoy.


Oct. 8th, 2001 10:08 pm
taerowyn: (Default)
I've noticed that I've been avoiding journaling, both here and in my physical journal. Usually when I have avoided writing in the past it's because there's something I'm trying not to think about and I know that writing will open up the issue to all sorts of analysis and mental poking and prodding.
So what have I been avoiding thinking about...gee let me think about that. I don't like thinking about what's going on and all the implications. Thinking about it...I don't know how to describe it, it feels almost like a black hole opening in my chest and I just want to sink into myself and just leave a gaping hole. Does that make any sense? I've been hiding from the news, taking it in only in small doses. We're going to attack other countries, you say? Oh bliss...what was that article I put in earlier...

"We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.
And guess what: That's bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the West. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose; that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong -- in the end the West would win, whatever that would mean -- but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours.
Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?" - Tamim Ansary

Oh good. Just what I want to think about. Terrorist attacks, world war and hey...let's add anthrax. Excuse me, I have a blanket I need to go hide under.
taerowyn: (Default)
Again, ever so much better than I could have put it.

An Afghan-American speaks

You can't bomb us back into the Stone Age. We're already there. But you can start a new world war, and that's exactly what Osama bin Laden wants.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Tamim Ansary

Sept. 14, 2001 | I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on San Francisco's KGO Talk Radio, conceded today that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."
And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived in the United States for 35 years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.
But the Taliban and bin Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats' nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan -- a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban.
We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and healthcare? Too late. Someone already did all that. New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans; they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban -- by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.
So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that, folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.
And guess what: That's bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the West. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose; that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong -- in the end the West would win, whatever that would mean -- but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours.
Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?

- - - - - - - - - - - -
About the writerTamim Ansary is a writer in San Francisco, and the son of a former Afghani politician.
taerowyn: (Default)
A little something from "The Miami Herald":

Published Wednesday, September 12, 2001

We'll go forward from this moment Leonard Pitts Jr.

It's my job to have something to say.
They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae -- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though -- peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people -- you, perhaps -- think that any or all of this makes us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.


Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.


You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well. On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold.

As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we're capable of. You don't know what you just started.

But you're about to learn.


taerowyn: (Default)

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