Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bush vows to keep doing the wrong thing the right thing

With the emergence of that latest bi-partisan intelligence report that cites the war in Iraq as the "cause celebre" for Jihadists along with such observations as "anti-US and anti-globalization is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies" and many other, well if you've been reading my blogs, predictable assessments (you can read what has been declassified here, Bush has come out to say that he will continue to fight until he wins. Let's review: The war is causing more terrorists, breeding a wider range of anti-US sentiment, making it, according to the report, more likely that terrorism will hit the homeland and Bush's response is to do more of the same. It reminds me of the saying an old friend of mine used (don't know if he made it up but it sounded like one of those clever cliches of old) when he was frustrated by the company he was working for: "you can't lose a penny on the dollar and make it up in volume." Well, George, your digging through a pile of horse manure that is now up to your neck and your still saying, "there's gotta be a pony in here somewhere!"

One of the things the report did say, that falls closer in line with the earlier post of mine, "Ok Mr. Smarty pants, what do we do, then?" is that since the majority of muslims are peaceful and do not support the violent measures of the Jihadists, then the best possiblity of weakening extremism is through the lack of support from the larger muslim community (in other words muslims need to solve muslim problems). The reason I feel this relates to the above-mentioned post is that the report also suggests that by angering the muslims that should be on the side of anti-terrorism through our meddling tactics we are preventing this from happening. The report reads: "Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the Jihadist movement: (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness; (2) the Iraq "Jihad;" (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most muslims-- all of which Jihadists exploit."

So, George, Lord knows that you, of all people, need an "intelligence committee" so why oh why discard their report? But who am I to make such hard judgements on our commander and chief? Don't take my word for it. How about you take the word of this guy and his 415 friends: excerpt from an article by Princeton University History Professor Sean Wilentz: "Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst(president)ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant."

You can view the entire article about why he thinks George W. Bush is a good candidate for the worst president in American history at

It's actually quite entertaining reading while at the same time very cautious in its assessment. well, there's my rant for today. I guess it's Tom's war rant day. Gotta pick up the thread sometime. I'd love to hear from a Bush supporter who can give a concise and intelligent comment on how Bush is a good president and how his policies are working. "Is anybody out there?" Peace, Tom

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

stolen moment

The house is silent. I got home from work ahead of the rush to play bus driver to the three. The house is messy, scattered toddler toys, teenage hoodies and flip flops (they don't wear shoes any more). Football gear, breakfast mess, newspaper scatters, morning rush randomly placed coffee cup, dog hair dust balls skitter like the ghosts of mice as I walk through the tile halls. I should clean up. I should take care of that paperwork. I should write that memo to my boss. I should.... but the house is silent. Just me, the hum of the computer and the cadence of my rythmless keys.

So, I steal a moment while the moment lasts. The clock leaking away what there is of it as the time draws near-- to the daycare, the middle school, the high school-- brother and sister fighting over the front seat, baby screeching-- to the post office with the promise of a check that most go immediately to the bank-- groans of disappointment, "we have to go to the bank? Can't we just go home first?" -- then making our way back home to get bombarded with snack requests and a clinging toddler with a cold. Then put together dinner, then football practice and chasing Skye at the nearby park and then home and then time to put the baby to bed and help Rob with homework.... but right now. Right now the house is silent. Drink it in. Leave the dishes...drink it in. let go of all the shoulds...drink it in. For soon you will take a deep breath and plunge back into the whirling world.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Zip, Bam, boom!

First week of classes, Cindra's out of town at a conference so single parenting three, dogsitting one, and getting the car towed that blew a radiator the other day. The first time I looked up at the clock tonight it was ten o'clock. My first class is at 8AM and there are three kids to get sorted out somehow before that. Skye Bonnie will get dropped off at daycare at 7:30, the other two, whose (is that a word, looks funny) schools start at 9:00 will be dropped off at a coffee shop that is next door to their schools (fortunately the middle school and high school are a block apart) with some cash and I will hopefully meet my bright eyed and bushy tailed students at 8 AM across campus from the parking lot. We all have days like this, so not trying for sympathy here, just blogging. I guess that's what this thing is for. A not-so-personal diary.

On a more interesting or noteworthy note (somewhat redundant, no time for picky editing here) I have a rather unique situation for my teaching career: I have the exact same group of students for all my classes this term and possibly for the entire year. To Quilldancer this may not seem like such a novel thing, but this is college. How could this be? Well I teach in a small Graphic Design program at a community college and last year I was sort of promoted (I don't get any more pay just more responsibility) to take the students that get accepted into the second year of the program (it's a two year GD program and you have to submit a portfolio at the end of the first year to be accepted into the second year due to the fact that there are only so many positions available) through the production part of the program. There are essentially two aspects to Graphic design: design theory and production. Previously I was the boot camp guy, filling in for upper division here and there but mostly taking in the freshman, running them randomly en masse through art 101, basic design 115, drawing 131, etc. which feeds into sculpture, multi-media, studio art, graphic design, etc. But, this year I get to take the second year Graphic Design students through all of the 200 level classes and through to the graduation ceremony at the end of the year. I also teach at a four year University and I've always thought that it was kind of sad that I might have a student for two or three classes in four years, just enough to kind of get to know them and then they disappear into the world. But a full year of seeing these guys through and going through commencement is going to be a different thing altogether. So, it's an exciting year.

Well that's it from this end. Gotta tend to getting kids into bed. After that I'll cruise my friends blogs, drop in to say hi before crashing out into nervous sleep.


Just Tom

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tom's Challenge #2 results

The results are in. First of all, I want to thank so many of you for participating or at very least, heckling the Challenge. We got responses from around the globe this time and so the Challenge circle grew a new ring. I visited lots of blogs and actually invited people who I thought might be interested and this led to our all out winner: A man I had run across a few times in the blogoshpere who seemed to have good things to say. I went to his blog and in his profile saw that he was a marine science professional with many similar interests and thought he might enjoy a crack at the Challenge. As it turned out, he was almost too good of a match for the subject as he was not only an ocean science researcher but had spent time in New Zealand and knew exactly who wrote the entry, of whom it was about and when it was written. With that introduction, here are the correct answers and winners:

Correct answers (cut and pasted from O Ceallaigh’s e-mail):

1. Commander (later Captain) James Cook
2. New Zealand Maori (I am unable to discover which iwi [tribe], if in fact it was recorded)
3. 1773, during the second voyage to New Zealand.

1st place honors go to O Ceallaigh
2nd Place goes to Brooke, who got Capt. Cook, wasn’t too close on who the people were (suggested native Americans), but did get very close on the year (she put 1775)
3rd place goes to Bazza who got Capt. Cook, Australia/New Zealand but had a date of 1778 (both got 2 out of 3 but Brooke’s answer came in well ahead of Bazza—probably not a fair contest with the time zones the way they are) so I gave him third place.

Honorable mention goes to Jackie’s Garden, who put down Captain James Hook, Europeans and 1778. Now, Captain Hook was a delightful character in the classic, Peter Pan, but don’t think he made it into the history books. Also doubt he was talking about Europeans having a bad experience dealing with Europeans (though there is probably some truth to that). However, the fact that she put James in front of Hook leads me to believe that this was an unfortunate keystroke or phonetical slip up. Anyway, she deserves some mention.

So, Congratulations to all and thank you so much for playing!

Pursuant to our discussion of Columbus after Challenge number one, the ethical question of the deeds of Captain Cook is still hotly debated and much more enigmatic than that of Columbus. To add insight to the progressive thinking of this amazing mariner, here’s an observation he made of the people of New Holland (Eastern Australia) as he made his way up the coastline for the first time:

“…From what I have said of the Natives of New-Holland they may appear to some to be the most wretched people upon the Earth, but in reality they are far more happier than we Europeans; being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous but the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe, they are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in a Tranquility of which is not disturb’d by the Inequality of Condition: The Earth and sea of their own accord furnishes them with all things necessary for life, they covet not Magnificent Houses, Household-stuff & c, they live in a warm and fine Climate and enjoy very wholesome Air, so that they have very little need of Clothing and this they seem to be fully sencible of, for many whome we gave cloth &c to, left it carelessly upon the Sea beach and in the woods as thing they had no manner of use for. In short they seem’d to set no value upon any thing we gave them.”

There are many passages that show a very fair and balanced, almost modern, assessment of the people Cook encountered and though firm with the natives if they attacked his men or stole from them he was equally firm with his own men if they committed crimes against the natives—which included lashes at the post for stealing from them (some serious, corporal punishment).

I have only read the “Explorations of Captain James Cook in the Pacific as Told by Selections of his Own Journals 1768-1779” Edited by Grenfell Price, published on Dover (my copy c. 1971, don’t know if it is still in print) which is a great synopsis that gives great insight into the man and his journeys, mostly from the horses mouth. I own “Blue Latitudes” by Tony Horowitz, the New York Times bestseller that retraces Cook’s voyages and gives a modern perspective of Cook from the cultures he impacted. I have not read the book but my father has and I have also done some reading on-line about the book. Herein lies the rub: he is not much of a hero to people he “discovered,” today. His prophetic statement that was in the Challenge #2 quote that commerce with Europeans does not benefit these cultures held true with his own explorations and contact with indigenous peoples and hence he was, however unwittingly, the deliverer of the poison seed of colonization and empire building that decimated the once pristine life of these people.

Now, I really like this guy. He is the original Captain Kirk—philosophical, always trying to do the right thing and one hell of a navigator. But he planted the flag (a bronze plaque really, if I remember right) that claimed the lands he “discovered” for England. Apparently, he wasn’t so philosophical about this act of discovery to allow the people he found to remain sovereign, at least in every case.

I’m not an expert on Cook, so I am inviting others, especially and hopefully O Ceallaigh, to chime in here and tell me what they think about Cook and his deeds. He’s certainly a better man than Columbus, morally speaking --- though I would argue a much better navigator and mariner as well. But was he also responsible for bringing about the end of days for the people he came into contact with? And if so, should he have known this or how could he have acted differently?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Challenge rules?

I'm still working on how this challenge will work but for now, it's simply on a first come first win basis.. I realize that some of you whom I have invited to this challenge are in completely different time zones and so this makes it unfair. I have figured out that if this thing grows and there are more global players (other than George W.) that there is an optimal time to post it-- either early morning or late evening to accomodate people at the opposite side of the earth (UK is 8 hours from here the middle east is centered around 11 hours and parts of Asia hit 12 (then it kind of works it's way back around-- like Australia-- it's listed as + 14 but my Aussie friend says "During daylight's savings time (U.S. does it, Queensland doesn't), I think of it as 7 hrs difference (although a day off). So, if it's 1pm Saturday here, it's 8pm in Oregon -- but the day before (i.e. Friday)). The times zones start chasing their tail after a 12 hour diffence.

If you have suggestions on how the game might go better, please let me know! I've never done anything like this before.

Tom out

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tom' s Challenge #2

This one is in the same vein, so we are following a bit of thread here and not too much more difficult than the last one. Here are the questions three:

1. Who is the author
2. Of whom (what people) is he speaking
3. what year was this written (closest wins)

(all spellings and grammar are shown exactly as in the original quote)

“During our short stay in this Sound I have observed that this Second Visit of ours hath not mended the morals of the Natives of either sex, the women of this Country I always looked upon to be more chaste than the generality of Indian Women, whatever favours a few of them might have granted to the Crew of the (ship’s name) it was generally done in a private manner and without the men seeming to intrest themselves in it, but now we find the men are the chief promoters of this vice and for a spikenail or any other thing they value will oblige (d) their Wives and Daughters to prostitute themselves whether they will or no and that not with the privacy decency seems to require, such are the consequences of commerce with the Europeans and what is still more our Shame civilized Christians, we debauch their morals already too prone to the vice and interduce among them wants and perhaps diseases which they never before knew and which serve only to disturb that happy tranquility they and their fore Fathers had injoyed. If any one denies the truth of this assertion let him tell me what the Natives of the whole extent of America have gained by the commerce they have had with Europeans.”

Answer by using the e-mail found in my profile (click on the word “more” at the end of my little description below the picture of Cindra and I at the top right of the page).

Good luck!

Tom's Challenge #1 winners announcement

Well, my first Challenge was kind of funny. I only have a handful of people who visit my blog or know that it exists and one of them got all three questions within minutes of posting them. Cindra knew them but was disqualified for reasons given—I knew she knew the answers before I wrote the questions. But, a challenge is a challenge nonetheless. So here are the results:

First off the answers, copied and pasted from QDs e-mail answer to me (because it was so accurate):

1. Columbus
2. Arawaks
3. They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

The Winners:

First place: Quilldancer
Second place: Jackie’s Garden (she got all three but came in second for not turning in her answers)

Good job!

That’s right, our good ole’ buddy Columbus. The man who makes Hitler look like a school boy (he succeeded where Hitler failed. Produce one Arawak Indian for me). A couple of notes on Columbus and his time:

In a discussion about the evils of Columbus, a friend of mine made the comment (paraphrasing here), “But that’s the way thing were back then. They didn’t know any better.” Or something to the effect that what Columbus did was in tune with the times. My rebuttal was that Columbus was not alone on that island. The atrocities perpetuated by Columbus have two major sources in recorded history: 1. Columbus’ own diary (log). and 2. The diary of one Bartolome Las Casas, a young priest who accompanied Columbus. Their views on Spanish cruelty were diametrically opposed. Even though Columbus made many references in his reports to Spain using,“God’s will , etc.” to appease the church, the church’s representative on the ground couldn’t have disagreed more. Here are some examples from Las Casas account:

First a description of the people found (which is corroborated in Columbus' own descriptions):

“They live in large communal, bell-shaped buildings, housing up to 600 people at one time… made of very strong wood and roofed with palm leaves… they prize bird feathers of various colors, beads made with fishbones, and green and white stones with which they adorn their ears and lips, but put no value on gold and precious things. They lack all manner of commerce, neither buying nor selling, and rely exclusively on their natural environment for maintenance. They are extremely generous with their possessions and by the same token covet the possessions of their friends and expect the same degree of liberality…”

Then the contrast of these people and Columbus’ intent for them:

“Endless testimonies… Prove the mild and pacific temperament of the natives…but our work is to exasperate, ravage, kill mangle and destroy. Small wonder, then, if they tried to kill one of now and then…the admiral, it is true, was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the King that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians.”

Then the deterioration of the people in its final throes as the men and women are worked to death in slavery—after 6 to 8 months of working in the gold mines, up to one third of the men died from the non-stop labor:

“Thus husbands and wives were together only once every eight to ten months and when they met they were so exhausted and depressed on both sides….they ceased to procreate. As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished, had no milk to nurse them. And for this reason while I was in Cuba, 7000 children died in three months. Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation… in this way husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk… and in a short time this land which was so great, so powerful and fertile… was depopulated… My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write…”

According to available reports, by the year 1515 there were perhaps 50,000 Indians left. By 1550 , there were 500. By 1650 there were no descendants of the Arawak that could be found.

I think ethics in such matters did exist at that time. It is obvious from Las Casas diary that he certainly saw it much the way we do today, as a holocaust. If one person can see it then others could as well and some must have knowingly took part in the raping and pillaging of the land knowing they were committing crimes against humanity.

But enough! This is a very depressing subject (but an important one). Now you know why we should never celebrate Columbus Day (we don’t celebrate Hitler Day). We kept Carrie out of school for a personal day once on Columbus Day (that she needed, anyway, when she first started middle school) and the school called because she wasn’t in attendance. Cindra told them that we pulled her out of school as a protest to there being a Columbus day and that we were going to educate her about Columbus—which we did. There was a long silence on the other end of the phone.

Tomorrow I will post the next Challenge, which will be related, but more positive. Look for Tom’s Challenge tomorrow and spread the word! Thanks for those of you who participated.



Friday, September 22, 2006

Holy smokes, I survived.

Well, I somehow made it through, with the extraordinary help of my wife, Cindra. At every level she was helpful. From watching our two year old the entire time that I was working on this project (THAT is no small contribution),to telling me exactly what I needed to hear about the proofs, especially the color. I'd be struggling with a color and she'd look at it and say, "It needs just a touch of blue and some extender (like a thinner) to make it more transparent." I'd take her advice and it was spot on every time. What a lucky guy. So, thanks honey. I love you.

Now, I just have to write up all of my syllabi and first weeks assignments and be ready for classes at 8 AM on Monday. I think it's cruel that they make the submission for the faculty show due on the Friday before school starts. Oh well, whattaya do?

To those of you who mentioned the Saudi murals, I might put something together for that... It seems a bit gratuitous in this venue, but be advised that we are working on a business website that I can send to you privately, when completed, if you are still interested. As I will be preparing to go overseas at the end of this term, I may put something together as it is pertinent to my daily life.

Okay, new game: Tom's Challenge. Dut tu duh

The following is a quote from a log. There are three parts to answer:

1. Who is the author
2. Of whom (what people) is he speaking
3. What's the next line

There are no rules, you can google, go to the library or just take an educated guess.

Winners will be posted.

Here's the quote:

"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawk's bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... they were well built, with good bodies and handsome features... they do not bear arms,and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane..."

good luck!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hello all ye good folks of blog land. I have been slammed up against a deadline to get something done for the annual faculty show. Every year I say that I'm not going to let that creep up on me and every year I go nights without sleep to put something together. The good news is that I'm having fun as we built the screen print studio this summer so for the first time I'm going to use my skills as a commercial screen printer to do some fine art. Something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. And I'm loving it. My screens are burned, I'm mixing ink and will have a fun night of seeing something conceived in the mind be printed on fabric (I bought some canvas and will be trying to print on that, then stretch it onto a frame for hanging). This year's theme is "Art as Activism," and so it is a subject very dear to my heart. I have been thinking about doing a series of unsung heros and martyrs of the twentieth century for some time and this was just the impetus I needed to see that through. I chose Rachel Carson as my first subject. I call it my Rachel Carson Shrine ala Rauschenberg meets Warhol-- with Northwest/Oregon organic colors on organic, unbleached canvas. I think I covered all the bases. below is a comp made from the computer created separations..

Well I'm back to the studio. Wish me luck! Cheers, Tom

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And now for something completely different...

Well, maybe we can't solve the world's problems with a blog (though sometimes I feel like we could do a better job than Blair and Bush). Like any greenhorn blogger, I suppose, I managed to cover religion and war in my first few days. Cindra is concerned that maybe I'm a bit too heavy for this crowd. You know, the irony is that in person I'm always out for a laugh (though rarely achieved-- my 14 year old daughter will certainly attest to that) and not that heavy of a person (except in pounds per square inch-- 5'6" and just over 200 lbs). I guess I feel that the fact that we are at war is pretty important, yet we are also at life. One day at a time. and for many of us, myself included most of the time, that is enough.

Unbeknownst to you new friends, I spend a fair amount of time in the middle east, specifically Saudi Arabia (I'll tell you all about it at some point I'm sure). I have been traveling there on business for just coming up on ten years and one of the things that has struck me over the years is that people are people, generally speaking. The majority of us, as far as I can see, don't want any hassles, don't want to kill anybody, would love it if other people would stop killing people and really just want to get back to our families at the end of the day and live our lives. Like I said, we are also at life.

So here's to you, livers of lives, dreamers of dreams, lovers of love. Here's a non-political day in my life:

It just started raining again here in the temperate rainforest of Oregon. Oregon. Just the word means "green." But we do have long, hot summers and when that switch is thrown ( and some years, like this one, it is just like a switch has been thrown by some elves in the night), Fall comes; the rain comes. Today I walked out of the open garage doors of the shop and just smelled the new rain-- the forest duff (It's like a forest every where you turn in suburban Eugene) parched from months of sun, released a pungent, damp smell, almost like cow manure. It may not sound too palatable, but to me it was a glorious smell, rising from the earth all around me. It was life.

I would love to hear your Fall thoughts....


Monday, September 18, 2006

"Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants, what the hell do we do then?"

(I wrote this in response to an e-mailed response to yesterday's post by an individual who suggested rather eloquently that if the American people lacked the common decency not to do it, we could reduce the region to glass and knock them back to the stone age, then occupy and set up the new government, much as we did in Japan after WWII.)

I enjoy and invite your comments. In fact, if there is a way to win the war, what you propose is the closest I’ve seen to being feasible. I don’t condone it because I am, I suppose, putting it in your words, one of those possessed with the common decency not to nuke entire populations. But let’s pretend that this “common decency” didn’t exist and we were more than happy to wipe the enemy off the face of the earth. Well, where are they? They are spread across the globe in cells, they are in the mountains of Afghanistan on the Pakistani border, they are in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. And that’s not to mention the African nations. There is no target. You could nuke one fourth of the globe and the next day a terrorist who was somebody’s suburban neighbor in London would bomb another train. We are not fighting a people as much as an ideology.

The next big question to throw back this way then would be, “Okay Mr. Smarty Pants, what the hell do we do then?”

Here is a very naïve and idealistic model: It seems to me that we cannot denounce violence while we are being violent. We must not become the enemy. Think about it: your saying that we must eradicate every Jihadist Muslim off the face of the earth, or as close to it as we can-- by reducing them to the stone age. Sounds eerily familiar if you listen to Jihadist rhetoric. Perhaps we can make a move in the name of a higher position. What about:

1: Announce that it has become self evident through history that violence begets more violence. That acts of aggression create acts of reprisal. That we understand that the enemy will use deadly force against innocent people to further their cause and that such a thing is wrong and that we won’t have any part in it.

2. Acknowledge that in all conflicts, both sides tend to believe that they are right and that either the people fighting or the governments ordering people to fight are willing to sacrifice lives for their “rightness.” This can make such conflicts go on for generation after generation after generation as these sentiments are handed down— look at the Israeli/Arab conflict.

3. Make a simple worldwide plea asking the world and it’s political and religious leaders to denounce violence, especially the killing of innocent people, in the name of their country or religion and stand together with the United States to make the first move towards a more peaceful planet. In this way, the world becomes allied with the US, further alienating the extremists.

4. Once global support can be rallied for a less violent approach to conflict resolution, the likelihood of an international coalition force giving support to the newly formed Iraqi government goes up and troop draw downs can begin for the U.S., improving public opinion. With less cost for operating costs of occupying Iraq with 140,000 US troops, support can be given to the Iraqi government in other ways.

If the US changes it’s position of being a known aggressor and acting police force for the whole world (whether they like it or not), and becomes a promoter of peace, it would take some of the wind out of the sails of those who hate the US. How do you continue hating a reformed nation that wishes not to use force against other countries but extend a hand in diplomacy and have a policy of non-violence? Statistics have shown and US generals and ex-cabinet members are saying that the actions taken by this administration have only stirred up the hornets nest and created a breeding ground for terrorists. We certainly can’t be doing any worse than we are on this tack.

Food for thought. Would love to hear more from you on this.



Sunday, September 17, 2006

How about this: we can't win the Iraq war.

The issue of how we feel about Islamic and Christian fundamentalism aside (one must study the Holy wars and how the empirical drives of western civilization have been justified through “manifest destiny,” or converting the heathens, through time immemorial to understand how this has truly happened on both sides), the war in Iraq, unfortunately, cannot be won by the United States, statistically and pragmatically speaking. To make this clear, we have to examine the Vietnam War. Though the conflict in Vietnam may seem somewhat principally different than in Iraq (debatable, but I'll leave that topic for another day), there are three striking similarities:

1. Both conflicts were sold to the American people under false pretenses: for Vietnam it was the Gulf of Tonkin incident and we all know too well that for Iraq it was weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq was somehow connected to Al Qaeda and hence had something to do with the tragedy of September 11. 2001 or Jihadist mentality in general.

2. The fighting techniques of the enemy included a blatant disregard for the casualties of their own ranks and hence they would not be swayed into surrender based on their losses or being bled into giving in for fear of losing future generations.

3. The American people do not share this blatant disregard of casualties amongst their ranks and public opinion of the war has and will turn sour before the enemy has even given a single thought to such ideas.

The problem that this sets up is that even if the U.S. takes the approach of total annihilation of every fundamentalist, Jihadist Muslim, there is no way to practically carry out such an idea. There is no nation, no border to the ideology and their ranks swell with the anger that they feel over the further occupation of Arab lands and the war under false pretenses. And the west has not been innocent in its Middle East and third world dealings. Study your history and you will find that we have manipulated and controlled countries for their assets much the way we broke treaty after treaty with Native Americans throughout our domestic history in order to expand our holdings and acquire resources. If there’s something we want and it’s on someone else’s land we will find a way to get it. Agree or disagree with the above, certainly there are enough disenfranchised Muslim youths that do and these will flow across the borders of Iraq from Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, etc., etc., etc, and create fresh martyrs for the cause. After all, this is the same basic enemy that has already defeated the Soviet Union and let us not forget that Ho Chi Minh defeated China and France before taking on the United States.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A writer's world, a world for the writing.

My friend Andrew once told me (paraphrasing from memory), "It's not that interesting things happen to writers more than anybody else, interesting things happen to everybody, every day. Writers are just people who happen to write it down." I must say that my old buddy really nailed it. We are all just souls at summer camp so we all get the near death canoe trip (ask Cindra about that one), the broken hearts and the stolen kiss by the lake-- not to mention poison oak, dysnetary and herpes. The best part is that we don't know what's coming next. As Camus said in The Stranger, "Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising towards me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time..." So write on you bloggers. One absurd day at a time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

And so it goes...

Tasmanian Tom 9-15-06 posted by wife

Here is the newly established blog for Tom. He's at work in the shop making us a living right now...which I appreciate. I'm sure he will say something interesting very soon, though. That's what he does!

Stay tuned...

Wife Out

The subjectivity of morality and the moral majority? How do we come to terms with 6 billion empirical perspectives?

You know, it bugs me when people of like mind sit around and talk about like things in a mutually gratuitous rallying session. For that reason I will see how long I can go without revealing too much of my leftness or rightness (since those unfortunate polarizing labels are so hard to avoid). I would love to somehow have the opportunity to get a discussion going with people from as far left, right and middle (how far is middle?) on any practical, political or spiritual subject to bridge the gap that is instantly created with these labels. There's a quote I heard once that I like: "a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged." conversely, how about "a liberal is a conservative that got laid off one month before their retirement would have kicked in"? We are all people concerned with keeping the bills paid, a roof over our heads, food on the table and that our children get every opportunity they can to have a good life. Black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or pagan we can mostly agree on those fundamentals, can't we? What else can we agree on? I'd love to hear comments on that subject: what are the universal truths or values amongst us?