This is just a note to let folks know I am still around. But around Gulfport Mississippi at the moment.
My Mum got a new computer from my youngest brother for Christmas so this is what I am blogging on. I am going to crash (me not the computer) pretty soon. I got back to my Aged Ps' house from the party, which is why we are all here - it was my middle sister Cindy's 25th wedding anniversary. There were at least 50 people there. There were a lot of nostalgic tears. And no political arguments; in fact no arguments of any kind. Amazing.
I am spending some good time with my grand-daughter. There were two little babies, almost exactly the same age, at this party. Shep, Cindy's husband, is 19 years older than she is, and his grand-daughter from a previous marriage had a baby girl the day after Savannah was born. So my younger sister has a step-great-granddaughter one day younger than my only grand-daughter. Kind of like that old "I'm My Own Grandpa" song. But what's really cute is this baby is named Aspen. So we have two babies at a family get-together not really related to each other, and both named after popular American holiday destinations.
I got a cool new picture of my son Carey, which will be up on the Personal Page after I get home.
We had a lot of good food, provided by my other sister Denise and my youngest brother Scott, who is attending chef school (his second career, after being a radio programme manager for many years.)
28 December 2003
This is just a note to let folks know I am still around. But around Gulfport Mississippi at the moment.
25 December 2003
I have added a few links on the links page, all "borrowed" from the Fat Buddha: The National Security Archive (secret history of the US) and a new news source, the Sunday Herald. At Deborama's Kitchen, I have our Christmas menu and an Indian Christmas menu, the latter also thanks to Pete at Fat Buddha.
I phoned my parents' house in Gulfport last night and my daughter answered the phone. She is there three days ahead of me, because it was the only flight she could afford. I asked her how the flight was, with the almost-four-month-old baby and all. As I expected, baby Savannah is an excellent traveller; not a sob or cry the whole trip, just dozing, nursing, laughing or looking around with all-consuming curiosity, which is pretty much all she ever does, according to both her Mom and mine. And her Mom was the same and so was I, according to mine. Isn't it great how heredity works?
Things sound pretty peaceful there, at least so far. I was a little worried that amongst the three of them - my mother and my two sisters, all fairly pious evangelical Christians, one of them might have a go at Aimee for not being married. (She's planning to marry but Savannah's father is not quite free of his previous marriage yet.) But, I probably shouldn't worry. I am sure that family peace and harmony and getting to see a great-niece or great-granddaughter will outweigh the dubious efficacy of prosetylization.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 12:31
Dick Jones' Patteran Pages, a blog I just recently discovered and blogrolled, had a good review of this show "Louis Among the Nazis". I saw it and I was mightily impressed by it, in more or less the same way as Dick. Except for the pity part; I really can't pity white supremacists because they are not harmless and theoretical to me. I have known too many in real life. Of course they love their children and are kind to their friends and occasionally polite to non-white people who either pay them for something or work for them. That only means they're human; it doesn't mean they're harmless.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 12:30
24 December 2003
23 December 2003
Naomi Klein's comment in the Guardian tells the truth about "third-world debt". It's not the ideology, it's plain, old-fashioned greed.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 23:06
22 December 2003
No? Most of you are too young anyway. Elaine of Blog Sisters links to Ellen Goodman with this insight: Three (terrible) things were threatened as consequences of passing the ERA : Unisex toilets! Women in combat !! and [gasp] Gay Marriage !!! Strange thing is, we now have all three, but no Equal Rights Amendment. It does make me tired.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 22:05
A pretty big quake hit California today but caused only "modest" damage. The epicentre was near San Simeon, about 250 miles north of LA.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 21:47
21 December 2003
The Observer's article on "the commune that kept hippie dream alive" tells of the threat to the the 30 year old self-governing Christiania commune in Copenhagen. The right-wing coalition of parties that has opposed the commune from its beginnings has finally attained a majority in parliament, and although only 45% of the voters want the commune shut down (it is amongst other things a major tourist attraction) there are plans for legislation against it, followed by mass evictions. "Christianites," as the members are known, will not go without a fight.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 10:06
20 December 2003
This story is from The Nation, by Lauren Sandler. Many Iraqi women are now trapped in their homes, afraid to venture out on to lawless streets with police and even male relatives considering their plight to be of little importance. Stories of rape and kidnap are angrily denied by authorities, who say that such things reflect "American values" which do not exist in Iraq.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:28
The Bookmovision blog by Julia had this great article back in September. If you don't know anything about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and you think you know American history, you really don't. I hate to be harsh, but there is a lot they don't teach you in school. . . The article is mainly about this book, Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, by David Von Drehle.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 19:42
18 December 2003
The Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting responds to the news of the banning of Muslim headscarves for French schoolgirls. The article has some very good and pithy things to say about the difference between the British and the French secular humanist approach to the "problem" of religion in its midst. My take on the issue is a little different, although I don't disagree with anything Bunting has to say here. In America, that great stronghold of religious freedom, I have seen that secular agnostic liberals can be just as wrong-headed as Chirac, and just as dogmatic as any Bible-thumping Christian. What I see here is the ultimate result of that line of thought. It goes something like this:
1. In the Dark and Middle Ages, religion is all-powerful and oppressive
2. There is a Reformation, and a counterforce develops, but still a religion and still oppressive
3. The two powers clash and there is religious conflict; millions die
4. The Enlightenment - an ideal is raised - allow all to be free to practice their own religion, including "none" (e.g. atheism or agnosticism or scientism or secular humanism)
5. In the secular state, where religious liberty is prized, the non-religious feel threatened
6. Anti-religion becomes a third force and develops its own oppressive mechanisms
At this point, game theory takes over. In some states, the "old" religion retains the upper hand but the new is tolerated and agnostics, etc. are tolerated. In some states, either the old or the reformed religion takes the upper hand absolutely; it doesn't matter which one, either way you are back to step 1. And in a few cases, mainly Soviet Russia, but now possibly including France, the agnostics etc. gain the upper hand, still feeling vulnerable to the "oppression" of the devout amongst them. The result is exactly the same: you are back to step 1. In other words, a state where a schoolgirl is forbidden to cover her hair in the name of religious freedom is no more free than medieval Europe, or Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 21:46
17 December 2003
There exists in Iraq today, hidden, guarded and a source of deep controversy, a large, beautifully illuminated Koran written in the blood of Saddam Hussein. How did such a repellent thing come to be? It was because Saddam made a wager with his God: that if his regime survived the first Iraqi war, he would write the entire Koran in his own blood. And it did and he did. Not surprisingly, it is a terrible sin to write the word of Allah in blood (which is always impure by Islamic law.) But, on the other hand, it is forbidden to harm, let alone destroy, a Koran. And so the ultimate fate of what one cleric calls "Saddam's black magic" remains uncertain.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:28
16 December 2003
I can sleep safely now that Hussein is caught,
I can feel safer now shopping in the malls . . .
Lorelei at From the inside looking out features hilariously satirical songs to brighten up your cynical, dysfunctional holiday, and now, a topical song to celebrate the capture of the Dictator du Jour! Priceless.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 14:30
And I am not even sure of what. The Sunday Times (London, not NY) had a cover story about Saddam's fourth wife, Samira. In an interview in Beirut, where she is currently in hiding, she claimed that she received weekly phone calls from Saddam. This was published just hours before it became known in the UK that Saddam had been captured the day before. (When I read this, it was about 9 am, and the TV news began reporting it about that time here. It would have been 4 am EST so the news was available in the US but most people were asleep.) At the time, I thought to myself that there must be a connection between these stories. But to my surprise, the Samira story just vanished from media consciousness. The Telegraph says only:
"It is unclear how Saddam communicated with his followers. There was no confirmation that he was in regular touch with his wife, as was reported over the weekend, or that he spoke by satellite telephone with his sons, Uday and Qusay, before they were killed." And that is the only reference to that story I can find on Google News.
OK, that's fine. The only basis for believing the weekly phone call story is Samira's word, and she seems, from the rest of her interview in the Times, to have a high facility for comforting self-delusion. But still, doesn't a connection between the tracing of the mysterious wife, whose photograph has never been published, and the discovery of the hiding husband, at least suggest itself and seem worthy of discussion?
Or maybe I am just sick of hours of pointless speculation about "Saddam's fate" in the guise of news, and would rather see some speculation about things that may or may not have happened, rather than about things which in any case cannot happen yet. This just tickles another of my pet peeves about the UK: about 90% of the "news" is about the future, and sometimes they seem to just let the present go by in a blur.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 10:56
Posted by Deb Ramage at 10:24
15 December 2003
Elizabeth I (1588)
I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too. And take foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm.
Abraham Lincoln (1863)
. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government, of the people, for the people and by the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Winston Churchill (1940)
. . . we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender . . .
Paul Bremer (2003)
Ladies and gentlemen, [dramatic? pause] we got 'im!
In case this is too subtle on its own, I was not impressed with Mr. Bremer's hip and happening 21st century vernacular. My English husband was frankly disgusted by it. This, from Outside the Beltway, and other posts on a mix of liberal and libertarian/conservative American blogs, makes me wonder about Americans' general reaction to such boorish triumphalism.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 08:14
I missed the Guardian's Baghdad Blogger column by Salam Pax last Wednesday (Dec. 10) and my US-based readers (both of you - hi!) may have as well, so here it is. I went to Where is Raed? looking to see if either Salam or Raed had anything pithy to say about Saddam's arrest, but I guess they have more important things to do than blog (hard as that is to imagine.)
Posted by Deb Ramage at 08:12
14 December 2003
Lots of little changes have taken place. At Deborama's Fund of Knowledge, there are additions to the Law and Constitutions and Religion categories, including a wonderful e-text of the highly condensed Mahabharata. At Deborama's Personal Page, there are a few new book recommendations and a link to my new LiveJournal. There are also new posts at Deborama's Kitchen. You may have noticed that I have switched to SiteMeter for page stats, and I put it on all the pages, so that it can track traffic from one to another. (For some reason I can never access SiteMeter from my home computer; does anyone else have a problem with it?)
Posted by Deb Ramage at 15:37
Keiko the film-star whale has died in a bay in Norway at the estimated age of 27. His death has caused new arguments to arise over the immorality of using wild animals for entertainment, as well as over whether it is possible to re-introduce a captive animal to the wild, a monumental but failed effort in Keiko's case.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 11:31
13 December 2003
It all started with Shock and Awe's post about Instapundit and Communist Protesters. Then there are the comments. But Winston Smith of Philosoraptor didn't just post about it, he tried to explain it (aw, bless.) I know a bit more about the arcane history of leftist/communist movements than most of the people, including Glenn of Instapundit (hint: calling yourself a pundit doesn't really make you one, you know) but I would never have attempted to summarise and make sense of this kerfuffle. Oh, but Philosoraptor does say "Oh, and everything I say could be wrong." Admirably modest.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:32
In the legal commentary journal FindLaw's Writ, Edward Lazarus tells of the Supreme Court consideration of "an appalling case," that of Delma Banks, who has been on death row for 24 years. Prosecutors hid evidence from the defendant, and knowingly presented perjured testimony against him at his original trial.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:21
Not Geniuses post on this is "On Firing Squads..." (Old Lefties will get it.) And ain't it the truth. Tragic and stupid, and yet, how can you prevent it? To paraphrase a gloating Rumsfeld, democracy isn't pretty.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 15:34
Salon.com has a great books feature article about the friendship between C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and their influence upon one another. I got this link from Alas, A Blog. A word of warning: unless you are a subscriber to Salon, you will need to watch a brief ad in order to read the whole article. In this case, I found it to be worth it.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 15:05
12 December 2003
I had a note/task to myself to do a long thoughtful piece about this post in Seeing The Forest. But that was before my little "accident" (see below if interested) and now I just need to go to bed. I hope to address it, and do the rest of my blogging to-do list, tomorrow.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:58
11 December 2003
10 December 2003
The Washington Post is one of many sources for this story of "war opponents" being banned from bidding on contracts to help rebuild Iraq. I think this could turn out to be another of those monumental foreign policy blunders that the US falls into every decade or so. Particularly troubling is how it could drive a wedge between the US and Canada, who opposed the war but is contributing (for now) about $225 million. But that money could now well be withheld. Trade ties between Canada and the US are so close, it makes me wonder how they can really enforce this ban; I am sure there are a lot of joint venture companies partly Canadian and partly American - will they be banned as well, or does it only matter which country the firm is headquartered in? It all seems very capricious and unproductive.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 21:15
09 December 2003
I love stories about political intrigue. I lap it up when the intrigues are successful, yet barely noticed. I adore political extremism in stories about political intrigue. And George Monbiot, well, I wouldn't object to putting him up in our spare room for a few weeks and picking his brain in my spare time. So this wonderfully Byzantine tale about ultra-leftists who swung violently to the right and then used dirty tricks to subvert public information channels about life-or-death issues is right up my alley.
In fact, I like this story so much I want to share it, so it goes off to Outside the Beltway's Beltway Traffic Jam.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 23:45
08 December 2003
07 December 2003
An editorial in The Leiter Report has addressed this weighty question (well, it is to students of history and philosophy.) After noting all the elements of Marxian thought that have been passed by in the ensuing century and a bit, he notes the remaining tenet that is still correct. Like all universals, it is so simple that it is profound: "Particularly important, in my view, remains the Marxian theory of ideology, which predicts that the ruling ideas in any well-functioning society will be ideas that promote the interests of the ruling class in that society, i.e., the class that is economically dominant." I can't argue with that.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 12:24
A great essay in the Nation on Bush's Religious Language traces the evangelical/political history of the Shrub and puts some of his more extreme utterances into context. As a Sunday school lesson, allow me to quote this profound statement from the article: "True prayer does not pretend to tell God what we want Him to do but rather asks that God tell us what He wishes us to do. We do not pray in order to enlist God in our ranks but to examine ourselves, to change and to do God's will."
I found this from a post on Body and Soul, where Jeanne remarks on the good and the bad in the Democrat's use of theological and moral references in the past months.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 12:06
It's a no-brainer, even though it is tough to not vote your conscience wholeheartedly. Here is a sampling of the left blogosphere opinions:
Tbagged on The Great Nader Debate
The Leiter Report: Nader Shouldn't Run in 2004
From Talking Points (no title)
One of the most thoughtful and thorough is from the strangely organised The Progressive Southerner, from May 2003.
Also in Salon.com (you have to watch an ad to read it, but they're usually pretty good.)
Posted by Deb Ramage at 11:52
"Rush Limbaugh's attorney accused the local prosecutor Friday of having political motives in investigating his client for allegedly purchasing painkillers illegally. "
I saw this posted in Seeing the Forest. I loved his commentary: "Is this what they teach you in rehab? To blame others?"
Posted by Deb Ramage at 11:33
06 December 2003
I have been quite busy in a very short time. Last night I joined LiveJournal, which is another approach to online journalling. Some call it blogging, but it is more personal and more communal than these blogs we have been doing. The look of it is quite customisable (is that a word? probably not; I am sorry) if you pay. I am not paying, so mine is pretty standard. There is a link to it at Deborama's Personal Pages.
I have worked a bit on Deborama's Kitchen. Still no recipes of my own, but they will come. I have moved the cookery books there. Christmas is coming; wouldn't your Mum or significant other like a nice cookery book?
I have figured out how to do TrackBack (from others'; I don't know how to have it on Blogspot, and maybe you need to pay.)
A few more good people in the blogroll, including MyIrony, En Banc, The Journey, by Trishymouse and Outside the Beltway. (See Blogroll; I'm too lazy to link.)
Posted by Deb Ramage at 17:29
05 December 2003
The German national newspaper Der Spiegel has this amazing story of the whole history of September 11, as pieced together from the interrogations of two major al Qaida leaders taken prisoner in Pakistan and now held by US military authorities. I wonder why this story is not a major news item in the US? This is in English, it is long, and it is an incredible barrage of likely facts. Thanks to Trishymouse for first posting this.
Because I think this is a story that really needs to get out, and not because I think it will increase my traffic or anything, I am sending a trackback ping on this post to Outside the Beltways linkfest The Beltway Traffic Jam; you should check that out too.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 11:00
I have a bit of a quandary here. There is a Walmart boycott called for in the US, and Walmart own the supermarket chain Asda in the UK. Our town's largest cheapest supermarket is Asda. They irritate me, but DH ain't going to shop anywhere else (except the greengrocers, which is even cheaper - thank God for greengrocers, long may they wave.) So I don't know about this boycott; it is only called for in the US, which makes me think most of the organisers don't even know about Walmarts overseas holdings. And it's a pretty woosie boycott - it's only for the holidays. Hmmm.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:45
I have put up my third solution at My Solutions, by Deborama, MBP. Please check it out, especially if you live in the UK, especially if you are a middle-aged woman and live in the Midlands near Leicester or Nottingham. Because this is something I actually want to do.
For some reason, I can blog at work, but only the first post of the day works, and only if it is short and has only one link. Strange, eh?
Posted by Deb Ramage at 09:41
04 December 2003
In the Guardian's ongoing special report on the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, James Meek has a two-part analysis of the situation in Camp Delta. In the first part, he offered this frightening possible reason for the existence of the detention camp:
But, as US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the military in a revealing slip in April 2002, "We have been successful in not eliminating al-Qaida." Having failed to find the suspected mastermind behind 9/11, Osama bin Laden, his Taliban ally, Mullah Omar, or much in the way of terrorist infrastructure, the US set about constructing, behind razor wire on a secure Caribbean island, an incarcerated model of what its "war on terror" rhetoric implies. It has gathered terrorism suspects from all over the world, imposed discipline and order on them, encouraged them to hate the US and kept them together for years. It was as if the Bush administration so wanted the Hollywood fantasy of a central terrorist campus to be true that they built it themselves.
I am not the only person to have chosen this particular quote, as it happens, but as I didn't get this from another blog, and in fact was going to post it yesterday but it didn't work on my work computer, I have no reason to credit anyone other than the Guardian. But it gives me a feeling sort of like warm fuzzies to see all these people I never met who think along the same lines.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 21:25
03 December 2003
Well, I did start another blog - this one is called Deborama's Kitchen and yes, it will have some recipes, maybe quite a lot of them, although its stated purpose is more food politics. Soon I will move the foodie blogroll to it and also the cookery books. It's not really ready for viewing yet but if you love me so much you can't wait, it's here.
Meanwhile, view the updated, rearranged Deborama's Personal Page, and while you're there, visit Exquisite Corpse, a really kicking literary journal (from New Orleans?) I knew about this in the 1980s when I was really a big fan of Andrei Codrescu. I had sort of lost track of it, and was delighted to find that it's not only still around, it's now on the web.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 22:23
The Village Voice Features article that every American should read. Lost jobs and military funerals haunt Bush in the Republican heartland. Small business owners seriously consider voting Democrat for the first time in their lives. Well-paid factory workers in imminent danger of losing their jobs fear Walmart more than WMDs.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 21:59
02 December 2003
Guardian Unlimited Politics features the future of the peace process from the view point of the major parties; this one is Sinn Féin's. Who knew Gerry Adams was such a pragmatist? I like his ideas, although some seem a bit over-optimistic.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 20:59
01 December 2003
In the Guardian, Lillian Daka writes of the "Generation of hope", the five-to-15 age group in sub-Saharan Africa. "They have the lowest HIV rates of the entire population, and they can turn the Aids pandemic around."
A heart-wrenching quote: "In an ideal world children shouldn't have to know about sex until they're preparing to join the world of adults. They should be able to learn about it as a physical expression of love and commitment rather than as a potential death sentence. But too many of the blissfully ignorant generation who grew up in the 70s and 80s have paid for their innocence with their lives. The naivety of childhood is a luxury the west can afford, but we have to get pragmatic."
I am not sure the west can afford such luxuries much longer, though.
Posted by Deb Ramage at 22:23
Here's a thing. I have this very strict, yet strangely capricious, firewall at work. It blocks me all the time from seeing quite innocent sites on the basis of foul or inappropriate language or graphics. But so far it has never blocked me from reading the way-out-there column of sex advice Savage Love. Why is that? Does the writer of Savage Love (the exceedingly gay agony uncle Dan Savage) have some mysterious powers over firewalls? Or are firewalls basically just cr*p?
Posted by Deb Ramage at 10:54