Thursday, December 29, 2005

Attribution Sag

Eli over at Left i on the news has an interesting post today. Scroll to the headline The "forgotten" history of Ahmad Chalabi (scroll to December 29 at 6:30 a.m.). He notes how the major papers are re-writing their descriptions of the puppet wannabe. He is now being described as a former "American protege" while omitting that he was invited to sit with the Bushes at one of the State of the Union speech.

I'm thinking it might be useful to provide a graphic indicating the arc of U.S. government friendship to villification. How long does it take a particular asshole of a human being to go from being labelled by the U.S. government as a "freedom fighter" or "friend of democracy" into the latest euphemism of "oops, we backed an asshole again." Cue Peter Lorre saying he's "Shocked! Shocked!"

Chalabi could join a long line of U.S. friends turned enemies, not the least of which is Saddam Hussein. We could show the same arc with Suharto, Noriega, the Shah or Iran, Marcos and on and on. If I get a spare moment, I'll try my hand at the graphic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bah humbug!

Last weekend, I took my Mom book shopping at Uncle Edgar's, an independent mystery bookstore in Minneapolis. At 81, and with a couple of broken bones recently, Mom is having a hard time standing up for any length of time. I tried to run and fetch books for her, but I also managed to scope out a folding chair behind the counter and commandeered it for her use. Since she drops a couple of hundred bucks each times she shops, I figure the store would forgive my presumption. Well, low and behold, the woman staffing the store went out of her way to help my Mom in her book choices and also in making her feeling comfortable as she sat in her chair for checkout. Highest praise to independent bookstores!

The Bah Humbug portion of this post has to do with a book I picked up from mystery writer Donna Andrews. I saw that the author was a multiple award winner and was known for her humor. So I found the first novel in her series, Murder with Peacocks and purchased it. I read it over the weekend and what a supreme disappointment. The reigning queen of humorous mysteries is Janet Evanovich with her Stephanie Plum series. Her books succeed with an indomitable heroine and a cast of loony characters to back her up.

Andrews' characters suffer by comparison. For one thing, loony characters who endanger their fellow man are a lot more humorous when they are working class, as are Plum's cast of crazies. Andrews are upper class, smug, self-assured and pretty damn disgusting in their rectitude.

The plot suffers from the "idiot" syndrome: our heroine has to be an idiot to ignore major clues dropped along the way. The evil characters are detectable from the get go and the reader simply has to slog through a couple of hundred pages in order to see these nasties get what they deserve.

It's odd to have award winners turn out so crappy. Gotta wonder what the heck is going on in the mystery writing genre these days.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

January 14 Antiwar Event

Here's my latest leaflet. It is for an anti-war event to be held on the weekend honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Photo Hosted at

Monday, December 26, 2005

Activists and dirty laundry.

The antiwar movement, faced with increasing antiwar sentiment and a ruling class undecided whether to continue its imperiliast course in Iraq, has decided to turn against itself.

In a statement issued on December 12, the United for Peace and Justice organization rejected any further coordination of activities with ANSWER.

Answer responded.

So now, grassroots antiwar activists are faced with the issue of which national antiwar organization to support as we work to end the racist imperialist U.S. attack against the people of Iraq.

I say let's not make a decision. I honestly don't believe that Iraqi families give a flying fuck what the personal political alliances are of any particular U.S. citizen who is working to end this bloody violence against the people of Iraq.

If our movement is going to grow, we we increasingly come into contact with people who have different ideas about a whole lot of issues than many of us long-time activists share. There is no ideologically pure antiwar movement. There is just us in all our confusing glory.


Some online discussion can be found here:

IndyMedia discussion

Burningman's analysis -- be sure to read the discussion in the comments.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Enjoy the holiday!

Happy Hannukah

And immerse your self in a Cute Overload this weekend!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Recent Reading

Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. This is a collection of short stories about Indian women dealing with the culture of the U.S. either by immigrating or in their relations with those who have emigrated to the U.S. The writing is quite beautiful and evocative, but the message is generally depressing. With so many strikes against them, it seems women from India have very little chance of happiness in our culture.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch. Dense language and conflicting passions make this novel fascinating. A failed wannabee priest who is attracted to young boys (I'm sure this reads completely different now in light of the Catholic church scandals) tries to make out the difference between ideals and human actions. Although the book is fascinating, I was struck by the incredible self-centeredness of almost every character. Perhaps that is Murdoch's point.

61 Freezing Protesters in Minneapolis

On Saturday, 61 plus hardy Minnesotans stood on a busy street corner holding banners against the war. The majority of passers-by supported the effort. Cars honked, passengers gave the thumbs up message and even pedestrians responded by saying "honk! honk!" as they passed by a large banner saying "Honk for Peace!" The high temp for the day was in the teens.

A small group of folks from the Counterpropaganda Coalitionsang a series of fun antiwar carols. An example:

12 Lies of the Media (12 Days of Xmas)

For the first time this morning the media lied to me...

Give your rights up for more security.
Second -- Torture is OK now
Third -- The economy is thriving
Fifth -- We can't end this war
Sixth -- Terrorists are lurking
Seventh -- NPR's impartial
Eighth -- Fox is fair and balanced
Ninth -- Democrats are different
Tenth -- Halliburton's honest
Eleventh -- Taco Bell is healthy
Twelfth -- Wal-Mart loves its workers.

This evening, G.W. Bush gave a speech on Iraq attempting to offer only two ways of looking at the war in Iraq. Either his way or the loser's way. You either believe in U.S. victory in Iraq or are a defeatest who believes the U.S. is losing. Too bad his simple equation doesn't include the Iraqis and what they want.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I'll take my raise now!

This test found via The Countess

You scored 53 masculinity and 46 femininity!
You scored high on masculinity and low on femininity. You have a traditionally masculine personality.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 30% on masculinity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 8% on femininity
Link: The Bem Sex Role Inventory Test written by weirdscience on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Friday, December 09, 2005

Get your feminist bloggers here

I'm getting caught up on the Carnival of the Feminists. Here's their intro:

The Carnival of Feminists is held on the first and third Wednesday of each month. Hosted by a different blogger for each edition, it aims to showcase the finest feminist posts from around the blogsphere. Posts will usually have been made in the period since the last carnival. (Only one nomination per blog please!)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Please sign the petition for the release of the Christian Peacemakers Team

Below is a statement from Sami Rasouli regarding an appeal for the release of four members of the Christian Peacemakers Team taken one week ago in Iraq.

Sami was on Democracy Now earlier this week discussing the situation.



Arabic version

Sign the petition at Free the CPT

Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken this past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not spies, nor do they work in the service of any government. They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith, but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to self-determination.

C.P.T. first came to Iraq in October 2002 to oppose the US invasion, and it has remained in the country throughout the occupation in solidarity with the Iraqi people. The group has been invaluable in alerting the world to many of the horrors facing Iraqis detained in US-run prisons and detention centers. C.P.T. was among the first to document the torture occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison, long before the story broke in the mainstream press. Its members have spent countless hours interviewing Iraqis about abuse and torture suffered at the hands of US forces and have disseminated this information internationally.

Each of the four C.P.T. members being held in Iraq has dedicated his life to resisting the darkness and misery of war and occupation.

Convinced that it is not enough to oppose the war from the safety of their homes, they made the difficult decision to go to Iraq, knowing that the climate of mistrust created by foreign occupation meant that they could be mistaken for spies or missionaries.

They went there with a simple purpose: to bear witness to injustice and to embody a different kind of relationship between cultures and faiths.

Members of C.P.T. willingly undertook the risks of living among Iraqis, in a common neighborhood outside of the infamous Green Zone. They sought no protection from weapons or armed guards, trusting in, and benefiting from, the goodwill of the Iraqi people. Acts of kindness and hospitality from Iraqis were innumerable and ensured the C.P.T. members' safety and wellbeing. We believe that spirit will prevail in the current situation.

We appeal to those holding these activists to release them unharmed so that they may continue their vital work as witnesses and peacemakers.

* Arundhati Roy, author, The God of Small Things
* Tariq Ali, author, Bush in Babylon
* Denis Halliday, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General and Head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq (1997-1998)
* Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey Sheehan
* Noam Chomsky, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist
* Kamil Mahdi, Iraqi economist and anti-occupation activist. Lecturer, University of Exeter
* Mahmood Mamdani, "Herbert Lehman Professor of Government," Columbia University
* Rashid Khalidi, "Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies," Middle East Institute, Columbia University
* Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, killed by Israeli military
* Hasan Abu Nimah, Permanent Representative of Jordan at the United Nations (1995-2000)
* Ralph Nader, former independent presidential candidate
* James Abourezk, former US Senator
* Howard Zinn, historian
* Naseer Aruri, Professor (Emeritus) University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
* Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence/Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
* Naomi Klein, author/journalist
* Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional Rights
* Rev. Daniel Berrigan, poet
* Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist
* Mazin Qumsiyeh, author, Sharing the Land Of Canaan, board member US Campaign to End the Occupation
* Milan Rai, author, War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War on Iraq
* Sam Husseini, writer
* Dahr Jamail, independent journalist
* Ali Abunimah, Co-founder, Electronic Iraq/The Electronic Intifada
* Nigel Parry, Co-founder, Electronic Iraq/The Electronic Intifada
* Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
* Eve Ensler, author
* Jennifer Harbury, Director, Stop Torture Permanently Campaign
* Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Detroit
* Anthony Arnove, author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
* Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange
* G. Simon Harak, SJ, War Resisters League
* David Hartsough, Co-Founder and Capacity Building Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce and Executive Director of Peaceworkers. Nonviolent Peace Force
* Blase Bonpane, Office of the Americas
* Carol Bragg, Coordinator, Rhode Island Peace Mission
* Rev. Richard Deats, former Executive Secretary and Fellowship Editor, Fellowship of Reconciliation
* Omar Diop, Président de la Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits humains
* Jim Forest, Secretary, The Orthodox Peace Fellowship
* Thomas C. Cornell, The Catholic Worker
* David Grant, Nonviolent Peaceforce
* Ted Lewis, Global Exchange
* Charles Jenks, Chair of Advisory Board, Traprock Peace Center
* Jeff Leys, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
* Andréa Schmidt, independent journalist
* Michael Albert, ZNet
* Richard McDowell, Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
* Dave McReynolds, former Chair, War Resisters International
* Peter Lems, Program Associate for Iraq, American Friends Service Committee
* Kevin Zeese, Director, Democracy Rising
* Sunny Miller, Director, Traprock Peace Center
* Dave Robinson, Director, Pax Christi USA
* Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, National Coordinator, Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq
* David Swanson, Co-Founder, After Downing Street, Board Member Progressive Democrats of America, Washington Director
* Mary Trotochaud, Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
* Michael Birmingham, activist
* Barbara Wien, Co-Director, Peace Brigades International/USA
* Bishop Gabino Zavala, President, Pax Christi USA
**Organizations and institutions are listed for identification purposes only. Contact: freethecpt(at)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I have seen NONE of these movies, but I'm definitely a cult film. Think Rocky Horror...

The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic

Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski

Saturday, November 26, 2005

In between jobs, I make another flyer

Photo Hosted at

No time to talk about it. Later!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The FBI and CIA really aren't that into me

I was surprised and pleased to see recent e-mails to me from "Admin" at both the CIA and FBI declaring that I had been recorded as visting "illegal" websites. The e-mails had some sort of attachment that I was urged to open so that I could answer their questions.

Having done my research through the Center for Constitutional Rights, I know that no citizen can be forced to answer questions of the FBI or the CIA if they choose not to answer. With the long history of governmental interference in political activity, I know that the best thing to do is to refuse to answer while getting as much information from the government reps as possible (name, badge numbers, department, interest, etc.). So I stood up for democratic rights and refused to open the attachment as another giant leap for citizen activism. (Of course, I never open attachments, and neither should you, but the story sounds so much more "heroic" this way.)

Well, sure enough I find this little tidbit today:


Fake FBI, CIA e-mails contain viruses

Nov 22 2:11 PM US/Eastern

The FBI warned Internet users about a scam involving e-mails appearing to come from the FBI, with a computer virus attached.

"These scam e-mails tell the recipients that their Internet use has been monitored by the FBI and that they have accessed illegal websites," the law enforcement agency said in a statement.

"The e-mails then direct recipients to open an attachment and answer questions."

The FBI statement said recipients of this or similar messages "should know that the FBI does not engage in the practice of sending unsolicited e-mails to the public in this manner."

The messages appear to be sent from an e-mail address such as,, or a similar address.

The Internet security firm Sophos said similar e-mails may appear to come from the Central Intelligence Agency, but it noted that both contain a strain of the Sober virus that has been spreading worldwide.

In a four-hour period Tuesday, the worm "has accounted for over 61 percent of all viruses reported to Sophos, making it currently the most prevalent virus spreading across the world."


Well, I'm still claiming major kudos for my "activism through nonactivism". Maybe this will be the start of a new movement!

Monday, November 21, 2005


From the political to the personal. I just have to ask, WTF do I spend an entire weekend and two nights this week getting the house ready for an onslaught of the relatives for T-day? More to the point, why are they the one thing that motivates me to take care of crap that's been lying around for months? PMS stands for "Pre-Mother Syndrome" in my house. It is the frantic activity we go through in order to prepare the house for the upcoming visit of my mother.

For example:

1. I spent what seemed like hours shredding old, useless bills and financial records that had been gathering dust for months.

2. I bought three lamps to replace the three that have, for years, been limited to either: a. using a pliers to change the switch, or b. unplugging and plugging back in to turn the rusty old pile of shit on or off. What in the world is it that makes me accept this kind of crap up until the day a relative might enter my house and be burdened with the piece of shit?

3. We finally, through joint effort, cleared off the dining room table, thus allowing us to get up off our knees (when using the living room coffee table) to have a decent meal together.

I do respect my relatives and want them to have a relaxing time on T-Day. But why the hell don't I respect my own self and my family enough to fix these things so that we can enjoy them on an everyday basis?

I pride myself on being able to put up with junk that others cannot withstand. It is a benefit of my stressful upbringing. But that is so last century. There really is no reason why I need to continue to put up with useless crap. Just because it's a habit doesn't mean it has to continue.

And just in case I leave the wrong impression, my mother is a wonderful woman who could care less about these details. Nevertheless, it is her visits that provide the motivation for me to deal with all these petty issues that I've ignored for months on end.


Friday, November 18, 2005


Tonight I volunteered at the final event of the Arab Film Festival. The film finale was an amazing story called "Private" about a Palestinian family in occupied Palestine whose house is taken over by a unit of the Israeli army. Here's the blurb from Mizna's website:

Private (Palestine/Italy, 2004, 90 minutes)

Director: Saverio Costanzo

Synopsis: Inspired by real events, documentary filmmaker Saverio Costanzo's feature debut is a minimalist psychological drama about a Palestinian family of seven suddenly confronted with a volatile situation when the Israeli army decides to seize their house for use as a strategic look-out point, confining the family to a few rooms in daytime and a single room at night. Mohammad refuses to leave his home and, reinforced by his principles against violence, decides to find a way to keep his family together in the house until the Israeli soldiers move on. Living in a state of constant confrontation and fear fragments the family's relationships as every member reacts in different ways to the soldiers' presence in the house. Tensions between the family members and the soldiers nearly reach the breaking point just as the troops are ordered to move to a new post. The family's relief is short-lived, however, as a new group of soldiers moves into the house and the cycle of disruption and occupation continues. In English, Arabic, and Hebrew with English subtitles.

If you have any chance at all to see this film, I urge you to do so. I have more to say, but I'm dead tired. Later, gater.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Intelligent Design

K Marx the Spot points out an interesting irony in the Bush Administration's philosophy:

When President Bush and his political supporters confront a huge amount of evidence that shows that evolution is the process that created intelligent life, they remark that an Intelligent Designer was probably responsible.

Yet when low-level military personnel are caught brutalizing prisoners, not just at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, but also at Guantanamo Bay and in Afghanistan, these same proponents of Intelligent Design claim that there was no policy allowing such practices.

Indeed, by their logic, these brutal practices evolved out of nowhere, independently, at facilities around the world. No Intelligent Design behind those practices at all.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More stuff

Why you should continue to date me a series of charts and graphs by Joel A. Friesen. Pretty cute. Link found via Presurfer

You are a

Social Liberal
(88% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(16% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 100% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I
can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender

free online dating
free online dating

You scored higher than 49%
on Beginner

free online dating
free online dating

You scored higher than 30%
on Intermediate

free online dating
free online dating

You scored higher than 63%
on Advanced

free online dating
free online dating

You scored higher than 94%
on Expert

Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Quoting the comedienne Susan Vasss, "I can be the smart one working at 7-11."

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You're a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren't quite convinced.
You'd make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.

Test found via Presurfer

Monday, November 07, 2005

Celebrity Slut event

Back at my old hang out on the web I used to post any sitings of celebrities I encountered and called myself a "celebrity slut" for thinking how hot I was for meeting somebody famous (long story, not worth repeating). I figure there's no reason to end that tradition now that I have my own blog.

Last Friday I got to meet Cheech Marin who was in town to help out a Chicano artist who had won a commission for art in a downtown building. I introduced myself and thanked him for his work on the Chicano Visions and Chicano Now projects. As a typesetter, I got to work on some of the promotional materials for the two exhibits and was able to attend both shows. I told him how happy I had been to contribute and how much I learned from the experience.

He was wonderfully gracious, thanked me for my work and for introducing myself. Pretty cool, eh?

If you get a chance to see the Chicano exhibits, take the opportunity. It is beautiful and fascinating work. Here is Marin's statement on Chicano art from the website:

The CHICANO School of Painting
Statement by Cheech Marin

From its earliest roots in the grape fields of Delano, California - where Carlos Almaraz painted signs for the United Farm Workers - to the GRONK retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the CHICANO School of Painting has always been about reinterpreting a culture. That culture has been shown to be diverse yet unified, profane and spiritual, traditional and avant-garde whether through the autobiographical paintings of Carmen Lomas Garza, that depict her South Texas childhood, or the deeply psychological, urban-hones paintings of Patssi Valdez. While other "schools" of painting have been defined overwhelmingly by stylistic concerns, the CHICANO School combines stylistic innovation with elements of tradition. The blending of Mexican popular and religious iconography with modern images of urban angst reflects the continually evolving role of Mexican Americans, or Chicanos, within the larger American society. This mix of sophistication and naiveté, combined with a socio-political overlay, has produced a uniquely American school of painting based on CHICANO content that is at the same time universal in its aesthetics of the human condition.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Neighborhood Group Night

Tonight I spent an hour and a half attending my neighborhood group's annual meeting. I have a love/hate relationship with my neighborhood group. To a large extent, they appear to be a bunch of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) assholes who don't have anything better to do than to come up with regulations about how other people ought to live. On the other hand, I believe that building a strong community is important and that the capitalist system does everything in its power to keep us from organizing amongst ourselves. Because of that, almost any community organizating is a net positive in a world that discourages community and prizes individualism above all.

So, anyway, I went to my neighborhood group's annual meeting tonight and it was chock full of in-group language and multiple assumptions that discourage participation from anyone not familiar with the lingo. There were extensive discussions about NRP Round II. There was talk about the "Foundry" issue. There was a proposal to fund the staff without ever introducing staff members or indicating what they do for the community.


And they wonder why nobody feels inspired to join in their organization. Well, du-uh!

Battle For New Orleans

Glen Ford and Peter Gamble at Black Commentator have an excellent article calling for collective action to save New Orleans from the plans of "disaster capitalists" and their friends at Halliburton.

The Battle for New Orleans will require lawyers, researchers, city planners, architects, social scientists, psychologists, financiers, educators, pension fund managers, liberation theologians, culture workers, athletes, medical practitioners, criminal justice experts, chefs, t-shirt designers, micro- and macro-organizers, as solid a front of Black politicians as can be assembled - and hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers in struggle.

A vision of the new New Orleans is also required- a full-blown counter-vision to the condo-studded "theme park" corporate blueprint, one that will inspire both those displaced from the city and the African American movement at-large.

The article also includes The New Orleans Citizens Bill of Rights which includes the Right of Return (sound familiar) for the displaced citizens of New Orleans.

Go. Read. It's Good!

Monday, October 31, 2005

My first "mature" rated quiz

I think this is hilarious!

grassroots activist
You are a Grassroots Activist. Anti-capitalist,
anti-patrist, anti-authoritarian, whatever,
you're just fuckin' anti. You probably tell
people you hate postmodernism, but that
assertion elides the complex interdependencies
among academic poststructuralism and
street-level activism. You don't bathe
regularly, and know at least one person who has

What kind of postmodernist are you!?
brought to you by Quizilla

Mr. Angry and Mrs. Calm

Check out this interesting image.

If you are near to this picture, Mr Angry is on the left and Mrs Calm is on the right. If you view it from a distance, they switch places!

found via Presurfer

Thursday, October 27, 2005

800 attend vigil in Twin Cities

The top two photos are from the Minnesota Daily. The third photo is from the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Photo Hosted at

Photo Hosted at

Photo Hosted at

Article from the Minnesota Daily

October 27, 2005

Vigil honors lives lost in Iraq

By JP Leider


Armed with signs, candlelight and feelings of outrage and sorrow, hundreds gathered at the Lake Street Bridge on Wednesday to protest the Iraq war and recognize the war's 2,000 American military deaths.

Attendees gathered to mourn both American and Iraqi casualties, said Marie Braun, the event's organizer.

"This is a vigil you never want to have," she said. "But it's important for people to have an opportunity to grieve publicly."

"You mark certain events by a special protest, and this is one of them," Braun said.

At last count, 2,001 members of the American military have died in the Iraq war. More than 70 percent of those were younger than 30.

In addition to the Lake Street Bridge vigil, opponents to the Iraq war have had other vigils and protests.

This week marks the anniversary of a report released by the British medical journal The Lancet that estimated at least 100,000 Iraqi citizens had died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

This week, in 100 cities around the United States, protesters are ringing bells and calling the names of the Iraqi dead to bring attention to the "terrible toll" Iraqi citizens are paying, said Sarah Standefer, a member of the anti-war group Women Against Military Madness.

One of the last in this series of protests, titled "For Whom the Bells Toll," will be at noon Friday at the military recruiting office on Washington Avenue, she said.

A small group of citizens demonstrate at the center every Friday, she said, to discourage military recruiting.

"Recruiting is down, but we want to make sure it goes down even further," Standefer said.

Earlier in the week, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, a military spokesman in Iraq, called on major newspapers not to sensationalize the 2,000th military death, which he described not as a milestone, but "an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

Nathan Paulsen, political science senior and officer in the student Anti-War Organizing League, said he wasn't surprised that the Pentagon wanted to downplay the incident.

"The Pentagon learned lessons from the Vietnam experience," he said. "It has done everything in its power to keep the American public in the dark about what's actually happening in Iraq."

Paulsen said it is "outrageous" that so many young Americans have been killed in Iraq since the war began.

"To me the outrage is that Americans are dying in Iraq every single day in an unjust and illegal war," he said. "That's what's sensational."

Karen Poortvliet, an organizer of a smaller, sister vigil Wednesday evening, said that 2,000 fatalities are worth recognizing because people can identify with the number.

"It's an intentional marking of a milestone," she said. "If we had time to do this in our lives every night, we probably should."

The 2,000 deaths in the Iraq war might increase turnout in the college and high school walkout that's planned for Nov. 2, said league officer Chris Basset.

High school and college students plan to walk out of school at noon Wednesday and meet at Coffman Union, where they'll hear speeches on military policy and the Iraq war, he said.

Basset said one of the major components of the walkout is protesting military recruiting in high school.

After students hear speakers, protesters will march to the military recruitment office on Washington Avenue Southeast.

Basset said the event will end with protesters joining the College Democrats and College Republicans and signing posters supporting the troops abroad.

University students interested in participating in the walkout Nov. 2 should talk with their professors first, said Craig Swan, vice provost for Undergraduate Education.

The University endorses the right of students and faculty to express political views, but recognizes both have obligations, Swan said.

If a student walks out and misses a test, the student doesn't have any automatic recourse, he said.

First-year student Kaisa Kerrigan said she thinks the walkout is important enough to miss one class.

"I don't like Bush and don't think he should have been elected," she said.

At the same time, Kerrigan said, she doesn't think teachers should be obligated to accommodate students who skip class for the event.

History junior Grant Grays said he's not going to participate because he said a "bunch of kids leaving class is not going to sway political decisions."

"Am I against the war? Yes. But they're putting their energies to waste."

Matt Graham and Nina Petersen-Perlman contributed to this article.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


It is official. 2000 Americans have died in the War against Iraq. Of course, many more human beings have died, including Iraqis, Americans and others who have died as a direct result of the war, but they don't count in the official (i.e. trumped up) reports from the Pentagon.

Please take the time to join in one of the 400 plus demonstrations being held to demand an end to the killing:

Photo Hosted at

The American Friends Services Committee website allows you to enter your zip code to find the event near you.

From the website:

There are currently 420 events planned in 49 states and counting...

On Wednesday, October 26, people will gather in communities across the U.S. to mark the death of the 2,000th reported U.S. military death in Iraq and to say that the country's pro-peace majority wants Congress to stop the deaths by stopping the dollars that are funding the war.

About "Not One More Death. Not One More Dollar."

We have now reached yet another horrific milestone in the war in Iraq--the death of the 2,000th U.S. service member. AFSC, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and Iraq Veterans Against the War are calling for people across the U.S. to stand up on Wednesday, October 26 and say that the needless killing of U.S. troops and Iraqis must stop and that the resources funding this war are needed for other things.

Events to mark the 2,000th reported U.S. military death will range from candlelight vigils to public actions that illustrate the size of the death toll. Here in our "Not One More Death. Not One More Dollar." campaign center, you will find supporting materials and suggestions for designing an event that meets the needs of your community.

The Iraq War has already committed us to aiding a generation of veterans and their families and to rebuilding Iraq.

We need to meet these just obligations and stop the funding for further destruction so that our resources can be used to strengthen our communities and help those in need.

We’re asking that you think along these two lines:

Public actions at congressional offices, federal buildings and other appropriate spaces with 2,000 representations of the lives lost.

This could be 2,000 candles, 2,000 gold stars, or 2,000 placards with the name, rank, age and home state of each casualty with a photo of a pair of boots. We also ask that you find ways to recognize the tens of thousands Iraqi deaths. (Boot placards, star patterns, signs, and other materials are available in the resources section.)

Sign the call to Congress to end funding for the war and work with other organizers in your state to carry the message to your legislators in the month after the 2,000th reported death of a U.S. servicemember. (Further legislative information will be forthcoming.)


The American Friends Service Committee believes that there is no military solution to the Iraq war. Continued fighting and occupation promises only further deaths and injuries, more widows and orphans, more separated families.

The U.S. is spending over $5.6 billion a month to fight this war—over $200 billion total to date.  The devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the hard truths it brought home about who does and doesn’t have access to the American Dream tells us all how desperately these resources are needed in other areas.

The U.S. Constitution gives the Congress financial oversight.  The time has come for our elected representatives to listen to the country’s pro-peace majority and end funding for this war. 

The Iraq War has already committed us to aiding a generation of veterans and their families and to rebuilding Iraq.  We need to meet these just obligations and stop the funding for further destruction so that our resources can be used to strengthen our communities and help those in need.

Working solutions for Iraq will be political solutions.  Diplomacy and dialogue in close cooperation with the Iraqi government and broad sectors of Iraqi society are the way forward to peace and to rebuilding the U.S.’s strained relationship with the international community.

Working together, we will end this war.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'll never be a good capitalist this way

Link via Pinko Feminist Hellcat

Antiwar Signs

I just set up a new account with antiwar signs. These signs are free to all to download and can be used in the upcoming protests against the 2000th official American death in Iraq. See American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) for more information about these events. In the Twin Cities, check out the Antiwar Committee website for the date. Here's the info from their site:

Candlelight Vigil: Not One More Death. Not One More Dollar.

When U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 2,000 @ 7pm @ Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge between Mpls and St. Paul - Date to be Announced

Soon we will be reaching another horrific milestone in the war in Iraq — the death of the 2000th U.S. service member. On the day after the 2,000th reported U.S. military casualty, people will gather in communities across the U.S. to show that the country's pro-peace/anti-war majority wants Congress to stop the killing in Iraq by cutting off funding for the war. Since we won't know the exact date that the 2000th casualty will occur, this will be an emergency call, representatives of local groups, including the AWC, will set the actual date for the vigil, depending on casualty reports from Iraq. Click here for flyer to help get the word out.

For the signs, I followed the advice of Eli from Left i on the news (scroll down to the entry titled "2,000 American Dead". I made the signs big, bold and easy to read for those fast-paced pedestrians, bikers and drivers going past your demo!

Here are the signs, set up for 11x14 signs at full size:

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These signs are all for use in anti-war actions. Originally created for the Iraq Peace Action Coalition in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This image is available free to anyone who can use it! If you do use it, I’d love to hear about how it was used. A picture with the sign in use ato fruitbatmn (at) yahoo (dot) com would be greatly appreciated! It’s fun to see how far these signs travel!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Take the What Fruit Are You? test by Ellen!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Straight up

Almost 20 years ago, Ravenhub worked in the office of a small political group concerned with the situation in Central America. In the morning mail, he got a letter typed on the letterhead of a local organization that viciously attacked the group he worked for. The man who "signed" the letter happened by that very day and Ravenhub asked him if he wanted to talk about the letter and his concerns.

Turns out, of course, that the letter was a fake. Someone had gotten hold of the organization's letterhead and decided to stir up a little trouble. The strategy fell through for one simple reason: the person being attacked decided to talk directly to the person who was doing the attacking. Whoever perpetrated the hoax hoped that wouldn't happen. He/she had hoped that Ravenhub would get pissed and refuse to speak to the "source" of the letter from that point on.

Which brings me to today's post. Today I found out that an e-mail I sent was misinterpreted in a way that was detrimental to me. But instead of talking to me, the people who were bothered by my e-mail acted behind my back to address their concerns. Fortunately, for me, one of the people involved decided to talk to me directly. Which is the only way I learned about the discussions about an e-mail that I wrote.

This is just one of the many ways in which the capitalist system ends up screwing itself. I recognize the corporate protocol in this situation and I'm relatively sure everything will turn out all right for me in the end. But the fact is that the system as it is set up greatly discourages people from reaching an honest and effective solution to everyday problems. It encourages people to talk behind the backs of other people who sit only a few feet away from them. It is a sad, sad commentary on our way of life and a damn silly waste of time.

In my particular line of work, these games mean nothing at all. No lives were deeply impacted by this misunderstanding. Nobody's livelihood is threatened; not even mine. But what a moronic way to interact in this day and age.

I do hope that people have the good sense to rise above this kind of behavior. When they don't, I am not surprised. Just sad at all the waste....

Saturday, October 15, 2005

All about books

Today I have been immersed in books in one way or the other.

At 10 a.m., Ravenhub dropped me off at the local Community College to attend the Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival. I was there from 10 am through 2 pm visiting booths set up by any number of organizations and enterprises concerned with books. I again met Hans from Micawber's Books in St. Paul. We first met at a reading at Macalester College.

I purchased a new book from the University of Minnesota Press about railroads in Minneapolis for Ravenhub.

I listened to several letterpress printers talk about their art and picked up a book of poetry that was about typesetting from Paulette Myers-Rich that is delightful.

I heard Ana Castillo read from her new book.

After that, I did my regular Saturday shift at the bookstore and sold a few books to the few customers that showed up.

All in all, a delightful book-filled day.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

In lieu of flowers....

Obituary posted at the Chicago Tribune:

Theodore Roosevelt Heller

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans. Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals, Douglas MacIsaac, funeral director.....

Published in the Chicago Tribune on 10/10/2005.

Found via Metafilter

Thursday, October 06, 2005

All your translations are belong to us

Today at Megacorporation, there was a fitness fair, which involved various health clubs providing materials, representatives and discounts for employees at local health clubs. One of the health clubs gave out a tiny plastic pedometer with these delightful instructions:

Stepping Meter

Product Characteristic

Counting the Step

Wearing Instruction
1) When Starting to count the meter, the display show "00000"

2) Using the clip that behind the unint to fix the stepping meter horizontally.

Operational Manual
1) This stepping meter can only count currectly under the flat plant.

2) Under the following condition, the stepping meter can't count correctly:

(i) Moon Walking, Wearing Sandal

(ii) When walking in the tricky condition.

(iii) Vibration without walking.

3) The stepping meter can be rest by pressing "Reset" Button


This reminds me of a lovely product one of my co-workers at Former Employer Who Stole Our 401K funds. It was a "Mr. Microphone" sort of product that was bought in Japan. The package was in Engrish (Japanese translated badly). One phrase became a favorite around the shop and we would use it to explain the unexplainable. The product had this special feature:

"The drama speech on the stage as real as possible!"

Try it out. Say it enough times it it feels like it's the answer to everything!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Intelligent Designer

A wonderful post in the New Yorker explaining creation as the work of intelligent Designer Gods. Think Fab Five!

Intelligent Design by Paul Rudnick

Day No. 1

And the Lord God said, "Let there be light," and lo, there was light. But then the Lord God said, "Wait, what if I make it a sort of rosy, sunset-at-the-beach, filtered half-light, so that everything else I design will look younger?"

"I'm loving that," said Buddha. “It’s new."

"You should design a restaurant," added Allah.

Day No. 2:

"Today," the Lord God said, "let's do land." And lo, there was land.

"Well, it's really not just land," noted Vishnu. "You've got mountains and valleys and—is that lava?"

"It's not a single statement," said the Lord God. "I want it to say, 'Yes, this is land, but it's not afraid to ooze.' "

"It’s really a backdrop, a sort of blank canvas,” put in Apollo. “It’s, like, minimalism, only with scale.”

“But—brown?” Buddha asked.

“Brown with infinite variations,” said the Lord God. “Taupe, ochre, burnt umber—they’re called earth tones.”

“I wasn’t criticizing,” said Buddha. “I was just noticing.”

Day No. 3:

“Just to make everyone happy,” said the Lord God, “today I’m thinking oceans, for contrast.”

“It’s wet, it’s deep, yet it’s frothy; it’s design without dogma,” said Buddha, approvingly.

“Now, there’s movement,” agreed Allah. “It’s not just ‘Hi, I’m a planet—no splashing.’ ”

“But are those ice caps?” inquired Thor. “Is this a coherent vision, or a highball?”

“I can do ice caps if I want to,” sniffed the Lord God.

“It’s about a mood,” said the Angel Moroni, supportively.

“Thank you,” said the Lord God.

Day No. 4:

“One word,” said the Lord God. “Landscaping. But I want it to look natural, as if it all somehow just happened.”

“Do rain forests,” suggested a primitive tribal god, who was known only as a clicking noise.

“Rain forests here,” decreed the Lord God. “And deserts there. For a spa feeling.”

“Which is fresh, but let’s give it glow,” said Buddha. “Polished stones and bamboo, with a soothing trickle of something.”

“I know where you’re going,” said the Lord God. “But why am I seeing scented candles and a signature body wash?”

“Shut up,” said Buddha.

“You shut up,” said the Lord God.

“It’s all about the mix,” Allah declared in a calming voice. “Now let’s look at some swatches.”

Day No. 5:

“I’d like to design some creatures of the sea,” the Lord God said. “Sleek but not slick.”

“Yes, yes, and more yes—it’s a total gills moment,” said Apollo. “But what if you added wings?”

“Fussy,” whispered Buddha to Zeus. “Why not epaulets and a sash?”

“Legs,” said Allah. “Now let’s do legs.”

“Are we already doing dining-room tables?” asked the Lord God, confused.

“No, design some creatures with legs,” said Allah. So the Lord God, nodding, designed an ostrich.

“First draft,” everyone agreed, and so the Lord God designed an alligator.

“There’s gonna be a waiting list,” Zeus murmured appreciatively.

“Now do puppies!” pleaded Vishnu. “And kitties!”

“Ooooo!” all the gods cooed. Then, feeling a bit embarrassed, Zeus ventured, “Design something more practical, like a horse or a mule.”

“What about a koala?” asked the Lord God.

“Much better,” Zeus declared, cuddling the furry little animal. “I’m going to call him Buttons.”

Day No. 6:

“Today I’m really going out there,” said the Lord God. “And I know it won’t be popular at first, and you’re all gonna be saying, ‘Earth to Lord God,’ but in a few million years it’s going to be timeless. I’m going to design a man.”

And everyone looked upon the man that the Lord God designed.

“It has your eyes,” Zeus told the Lord God.

“Does it stack?” inquired Allah.

“It has a naïve, folk-artsy, I-made-it-myself vibe,” said Buddha. The Inca sun god, however, only scoffed. “Been there. Evolution,” he said. “It’s called a shaved monkey.”

“I like it,” protested Buddha. “But it can’t work a strapless dress.” Everyone agreed on this point, so the Lord God announced, “Well, what if I give it nice round breasts and lose the penis?”

“Yes,” the gods said immediately.

“Now it’s intelligent,” said Aphrodite.

“But what if I made it blond?” giggled the Lord God.

“And what if I made you a booming offscreen voice in a lot of bad movies?” asked Aphrodite.

Day No. 7:

“You know, I’m really feeling good about this whole intelligent-design deal,” said the Lord God. “But do you think that I could redo it, keeping the quality but making it at a price point we could all live with?”

“I’m not sure,” said Buddha. “You mean, what if you designed a really basic, no-frills planet? Like, do the man and the woman really need all those toes?”

"Hello!" said the Lord God. "Clean lines, no moving parts, functional but fun. Three bright, happy, wash 'n' go colors."

"Swedish meets Japanese, with maybe a Platinum Collector's Edition for the geeks," Buddha decided.

"Done," said the Lord God. "Now let's start thinking about Pluto. What if everything on Pluto was brushed aluminum?"

"You mean, let's do Neptune again?" said Buddha.

Copyright © CondéNet 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Back home

Sigh. We made it back to Minneapolis at 10:30 p.m. on Monday. Ah! The joy of sleeping in my own bed and seeing my cats!

The Demo

We left our hotel in Bethesda around 8 a.m. We had breakfast and got some good coffee, then headed to the Metro. On the Metro, we saw lots of folks with signs and T-shirts that indicated they were going the same way. A woman with a Free Palestine T-shirt offered me her seat (damn, I've reached that age!) and we talked for a while. We got out at Farragut North, had another shot of coffee, then headed to the Ellipse. The authorities had blocked off several streets around the White House, the Executive Office Building and the Treasury Department, so we had to zigzag our way to the event.

The stage on the ellipse for the pre-march rally was fairly small. The press platform blocked some of the view. But the sound was terrific. There was a long banner hanging at the back of the stage that literally rotated between UFPJ and ANSWER. The banner was flipped back and forth depending on which group's speakers had the microphone.

We spent most of the time wandering through the crowd and bumping into people we knew. The buses from Minneapolis got there shortly after I did and I started seeing my "Bring the Troops Home Now" signs made up as sandwich boards. Very nice and very distinctive! The anti-war committee had a banner that had an outline map of Minnesota and the phrase "You betcha Minnesotans say no to war." It drew lots of interested photographers.

We marched with the Minnesota group first, then wandered back to the U.S. Labor Against the War contingent. As we were waiting in gridlock, a friend pointed up to the small group of 50 people or so who were waiting in line to go inside the Washington Monument.

Friend: "Do you know who those people are way up there?"

Us: "No."

Friend: "Those are the people who refuse to march with ANSWER."

Yeah, after all the bruhaha about differences of opinions, it was clear on the ground that the vast majority of people were there to end the war and welcomed people who also supported all kinds of other issues as well.

At one point I found myself amidst a large group of women with green shirts and signs that said "Gennossee County against the war." I asked them where they were from. A woman answered, Flint, Michigan.

"I'm from Michigan, too!" I said. "I was born in Ann Arbor."

She shook her head, held up her hand and said, "Do it the right way!"

My husband groaned as I pointed to the thumb of my own hand. "I'm from here!" I said.

Ah, we Michiganders are just so predictable!

I saw lots of great signs:

One man had a lovely peace sign with a cartoon strawberry and the words, "Just Another Fruit for Peace."

A woman and her young son held up a sign that said, "No Iraqi ever left me on my roof to die."

As far as numbers go, the march was smaller than the choice march in 1986 which was 750,000 or more. The largest crowd I've personally counted was a little over 10,000. My guess is there were about 250,000 people there. The press said "at least" 100,000 and the organizers said 300,000. No question, the turnout was much larger than expected. We should be proud of our work!

The march curved around past the White House. "Billionaires for Bush" were dressed in formal wear and standing across the street from the White House. One woman waved her hand oh so serenely while her partner tipped his yachting cap. Their signs included "Cronyism is competence!" "Photo Ops are Accomplishments!" and, my favorite, "It's a Class War and We're Winning."

By far, the most active and loud participants were various groups of young people who danced and chanted their way through the crowds. They chanted "Move Bush! Get out 'the way! "Get out 'the way, Bush, get out 'the way!" or "Bush! You liar! We'll set your house on fire!"

There was almost no grassroots security visible anywhere along the march. In fact, the only security folks we saw were around the stages. There were tiny groups of counter-protesters along the march. I started to fade toward the end of the march and took a short-cut back, so I missed the planned counter-demonstration. I heard, however, that they only managed a few hundred.

We stayed for only the start of the after-march concert. We heard Cindy Sheehan speak and then Steve Earle sang. Here's where I became intolerant. He seemed like a child, urging the crowd to yell Fuck Bush and complaining about how hard it was to buy cigarettes these days. Oh, boohoo. We gathered up our various flyers and buttons and headed back to the Metro station.

One thing we noticed: almost nobody sold decent buttons. They were either too small, too unclear or just plain messy. Oh, well.

One of the joys of participating in a national demonstration that local activists don't talk about so much is what a joy it is to be at a demo at which somebody else does all the work. Over the past 20 years, we have consistently done media work for every demonstration, which means sending press releases, making phone calls, assisting the media at the events, doing crowd counts, providing informed commenters, doing follow-up calls, etc. There were tons of volunteers on hand and I had done a ton of work to build local participation. The Anti-War Committee members took responsibility for organizing the buses and keeping track of people during the event. On Saturday I had the unusual pleasure of being a participant and enjoying the event with no nagging responsibilities. Definitely an enjoyable experience!

Along the streets and at the rally sites, various groups had set up tables and were selling literature. We agreed that we would not pick up any material that was easily available in Minneapolis (People's Daily World, Workers World, Workers Vanguard, Socialist Action, Justice, Fight Back, etc). There was no shortage of people handing out information.

There is a hell of a lot of political activism out there. Some examples, in the order I pull them from the pile:

ANSWER had a 4-pg. tabloid newspaper with their wonderful graphics.

United For Peace & Justice had an 8-pg. tabloid that included a map of the march route and events.

The World Can't Wait had a nicely done flyer with wide distribution. They are calling for an anti-Bush rally in NYC on November 2.

Solidarity News has a small 12-page newspaper based in Detroit.

911 Truth has a half-sheet flyer demanding a new investigation into September 11.

The International Communist Current had a green flyer with lots of small type.

Troops Out Now had a flyer for the Nationwide Strike against poverty, racism and war on December 1, the anniversary of Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus. They also printed a 4-pg tabloid paper with articles connecting the antiwar struggle to other issues.

Workers Democracy had a broadsheet focused on New Orleans.

World Social Forum had a flyer for their next event in Venezuela on January 24-29.

The Internationalist had a 12-page newspaper focussing on New Orleans.

The World Socialist Web Site handed out reprints from their website.

The Indypendent handed out their 4-color 20-pg newspaper from New York City Indymedia.

Socialist Appeal handed out a 16-page letter-size mag produced out of Fargo, N.D.

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke had a letter-size flyer explaining the boycott against Coke -- "The Drink that Represses!".

The Worker had a 4-pg. tabloid newspaper out of Chicago.

In These Times handed out their September 19 edition.

Take the Pledge had flyers and sign-up sheets to get people to cut their personal oil use in half by 2020.

United States Student Association had brochures promoting their training program for students.

Democratic Socialists of America handed out "Building the Next Left" documents and others.

The US/Cuba Labor Exchange handed out information on a December 9-11 conference in Tijuana, Mexico.

Arab Association for Human Rights had fliers about their activities, based in Israel.

The Korea Truth Commission had fliers and a statement on the current state of talks. We met Ye there. We had worked on a committee to bring her to Minneapolis several years ago. It was great to see her again.

National Conference to Reclaim Our Cities had a pamphlet for their conference in Detroit on November 11-13.

International Action Center reprinted articles. I picked up several, one suggesting Sudan is the next target, one comparing storm reaction in the U.S. with China, one on Venezuela.

International Solidarity had an 8-pg. stapled printout of their newspaper.

Voice of Revolution handed out their 24-page mag printed in Chicago.

Pride at Work has a brochure about GBLT rights in the workplace.

Books Not Bombs has a brochure about their work among students since September 11.

Military Free Zone passed out "fuck recruiters in our schools" stickers.

Iraq Freedom Congress handed out a 14-pg analysis of the current situation in Iraq.

Campus Antiwar Network had fliers supporting the "On the Frontlines" congress on October 22-23 in Berkeley, CA. They also handed out a 34-pg tabloid magazine called "A Mind is a Terrible Thing To Waste."

Socialist Worker sold their paper, based out of Chicago.

Anti-Imperialist News Service has a 4-pg. mag out of Chicago.

Working People's Advocate has a broadsheet with an article on New Orleans.

American Friends Service Committee has a 4-pg. document on "Building Hope for Iraq".

People Judge Bush has a printout on "US War Crimes in Iraq Talking Points" and "Shut down Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and the Maricopa County Jail."

Challenge has a 8-pg. tabloid newspaper they handed out plus a flyer "From Gulf Coast to Persian Gulf: Capitalism Kills."

League of Revolutionaries for a New America had a flyer on "Hurricane Katrina and Its Aftermath" printed in Chicago.

The Spark had a 8-pg. tabloid newspaper out of Baltimore.

Stand Up for Democracy in DC has a pamphlet on their work to bring democracy to the citizens of the District of Columbia.

Visual Commentary handed out postcards promoting their website.

Friday, September 23, 2005

If it's Friday, this must be Indiana....

We left this morning for the demo in Washington, D.C. Made it as far as Indianapolis, which is a little over halfway. Stopped in Rochelle, Illinois, which has a railroad park with a viewing platform to watch the 100 plus trains the cross there every day. We saw three trains in the 20 minutes we were there. Very cool.

Gotta crash now. Another 11 hours of driving tomorrow and then the big event on Saturday. Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

We're not racist assholes; we're classist assholes!"

An interesting article about the town of Gretna, LA, that blocked those attempting to escape from New Orleans from entering their community. The Los Angeles Times site requires free registration and only lasts a couple of weeks, so click soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
Go to this site to see how much of your own city would be affected if it matched the effects of flooding in New Orleans.

Found via The Presurfer

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Heard on National Public Radio's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" today.

Michael Brown's statement to his next boss:

"How in the world could anyone predict that somebody who ordered a hamburger would want fries with that?"

Good one.


I'm tempted to start a counter, a la Nightline's record during the Iran Hostage/Spy Crisis, to record the number of days that must pass before it is deemed civilized to criticize the aid effort for victims of Katrina. I predict it will be about three months and then the accusation that blaming our elected officials is wrong will change to the accusation that Hurricane Katrina is "old news" and we need to move on to other issues.


I wandered into a discussion on a couple of liberal weblogs from people who said they would not attend the September 24 anti-war demonstrations because some of the people working in the national office are socialists who support the overthrow of the U.S. government. All, I can think is, what a bunch of whiners! I have spent years working on important political issues that are run by people with all kinds of absurd beliefs that I find astonishing. Like the incredibly hard-working nuns who believe they are married to Jesus Christ and labor under a tremendously sexist and anti-gay international organization called the Catholic Church. Yeah, it's pretty absurd, but they do good work and they are working for a good cause. So I not only tolerate them, I actually enjoy working with them.

Maybe if these liberals actually talked to those scary commies and socialists who are working their butts off to carry off a national demonstration, they might find that they are actual human beings, not stereotypes to mock.

Having spent 25 years as an activist, I've got to say that there is something odd about each one of us. "Normal" people do not spend their time working on hopeless causes like women's rights, worker's rights or anti-interventionism. "Normal" people do their jobs as best they can and try to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.

Every one of us in odd in some way. It is the odd people who do the grunt work that allow other people to become involved in useful political activity. These people needed to be celebrated, not condemned. At times, I find it impossible to tolerate the ridiculous opinions of liberals. But most of the time, it is worth it.

Ignore the frightened man slinging red-scare nonsense from behind the curtain. Come out on September 24. Allow your voice to join with others, some of whom believe in bizarre things, to express unanimity on this crucial issue for ourselves and for the Iraqi people.

Bring the troops home now. End the war against Iraq. Fund human needs, not war.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More analysis

If I had the time or the dedication, I might attempt to provide cogent analysis and insightful commentary on the situation in the Gulf Course in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Fortunately, we live in an interdependent world and people have stepped up to the plate. In the last few days, I've depended on the wonderful websites you see linked at the right side of this page.

One source I'm particularly impressed by is not on my blogroll, yet, but should be. That site is Counterpunch.

Two articles from the last couple of days are real standouts:

In Rat Race of Human Race? State Failure and Human Solidarity, Dan La Botz makes excellent points about the spin given to this particular event:

What do we learn from this experience? For at least the last 25 years we have been told by government, media, the business departments of the universities, and conservative churches that the only social value is competition, that the only mechanism is the market, that the only role for society is to stand aside and let the rat race go on. We have been told that the only motives are selfish motives, the only interests are ego interests. We were told it was all a rat race: business, politics, foreign affairs. We have been told to believe that the biggest, fattest rat will be the winner of the race where in the end rat eats rat.

New Orleans has now shown us the alternative to the rat race that is the human race.

Emphasis added. If you've wondered why the hell the mainstream media all of a sudden focussed on the 0.01% of the New Orleans population who were looting TVs and other luxury goods, keep this concept in mind: what would happen to all the dog-eat-dog, people are evil at base ideologies if we concentrated on the 99.9% of New Orleans citizens who dropped everything to help their fellow citizens.

La Botz continues:

New Orleans's poor black people in their solidarity in this crisis have shown us an alternative to the White House, to the Hill, to Wall Street, to Madison Avenue. They have shown us that within our society, among its working people and its poor lives another potential society with other ideals.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. What an amazing example of the true human spirit we saw again and again as people reached out an helped each other. These people deserve our respect and admiration. Go and read the entire article and pass it on.


As an adjunct to the above article, I believe there is another reason why the mainstream media focussed on looters. It was a great way to justify martial law and to encourage certain rogue tendencies in the military to view New Oreleans as a hostile situation requiring combat readiness from those military men and women who, days late, managed to make it into New Orleans. This is a report entitled Trapped in New Orleans by Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky. Again and again they show how collective citizen action produces mutual benefits for those victimized by the storm and how the military presence repeatedly undermined those efforts.

Without a doubt, this is a class issue. In my childhood there were times when my family resorted to calling the police to try to resolve desparate situations. In every case, the presence of the police made things worse, not better. That is why I cannot join in those who condemn Bush and his administration for not bringing in the military earlier. I am not at all convinced that the military, trained for combat, are capable of providing humanitarian assistance of any kind.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ingmar Bergman

Your film will be 65% romantic, 32% comedy, 44% complex plot, and a $ 55 million budget.

Your life will be portrayed on film as an intense psychological drama, likely with some actresses screaming at the camera (Persona), or maybe a pleasant chess game between the Grim Reaper and a Crusader (The Seventh Seal). This Swedish director's films are intensely scrutinzed and studied in colleges all over the world to this day. This means that most Americans still don't understand his films! Still alive, he released in the U.S. in 2005 his first film in 23 years (Saraband), and he can still take on one more project to make your film biography. If curious, start with his films Wild Strawberries and Smiles of a Summer Night.

Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on Ok Cupid

Friday, September 02, 2005

Fuck the lot of them

So much to do and say about New Orleans and the massive destructive of Hurricane Katrina. The very best commentary I have read so far I found via daypop40 in a livejournal:

Cherie Priest says:

And the evacuation was little more than a vague order to get the hell out -- under your own power and at your own expense.

Go. Read the post. She really gets it.

For those people stranded in New Orleans and other cities whose names we do not know yet, this must seem like the end of times. My heart goes out to all of them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Where's W?

See if you can find the president here. Found via After Downing Street.

Bring Them Home Now Bus Tour

The bus tour from Camp Casey of Gold Star families is going to be here in Minneapolis on Saturday. The local community is scrambling to organize a large public event and to provide homes for the travelers. More info can be found at Bring Them Home Now Tour. There will probably be a public event a the Capitol Building in St. Paul on Saturday. Call Women Against Military Madness for details and to volunteer: 612-827-5364.

Hurricane Katrina

The devastation in New Orleans and the rest of the southern U.S. is astonishing. Last night, one of the networks showed ten straight minutes of video shot from a helicopter which gave me a small idea of how extensive the damage is. For the first time, I am hearing reporters in the U.S. talk about a huge refugee crisis within our own borders. There are 20,000 people trapped in the Superdome in New Orleans. The plan is to bus them all the way up to Dallas where they will be allowed to stay in the Astrodome. How they can get the people from the Superdome, which is completely surrounded by water, to buses, when all roads from the city are out, is still to be determined.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Cats in Sinks

Cats in Sinks.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

That was fun!

We all got older and fatter and lost our hair and our eyesight. It was just so much fun to see how many people are alive and doing well. They have children and grandchildren and jobs and lives all over the country.

It is so funny how our perceptions of school are so different. One woman came up to me and told me she had been the young girl who had "the great honor" of turning the pages on the music book that I used to play the piano accompaniment to our school's production of "Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat!". To think that anyone would consider sitting next to me to be some kind of honor is unbelievable. But there you go.

Honestly, I believe the most amazing thing about the night was the great delight in knowing that all of these different people have survived all these years. The event was held in the same hall that was used to hold my class's graduation, all 37 of us. It kind of renewed my faith in life itself.

Friday, August 26, 2005

High School Reunion

I went to a relatively tiny high school. There were 37 people in my class.

Tomorrow night I will attend the 30th anniversary of the closing of my high school. Because the school was so small, we celebrate all-school reunions rather than individual class reunions. I haven't attended any reunions since the 5th reunion.

Funny thing. After 30 plus years, the reunion has almost nothing to do with "me" and has everything to do with curiousity about everyone else. I've heard stories about people going on diets and engaging in major makeovers before attending high school reunions, if only to prove something long after the pain of high school shunning is over.

At some point, though, it all falls by the wayside. At least I think it does. I'll check back in after tomorrow night to see whether the ghosts of high school past infected my enjoyment of events!

The good thing about being a small school is that these all-school reunions invite students, teachers and parents. So my date tomorrow night will be my Mom. She spent many hours at sporting events, parent events and school activities. In most situations, none of that gets acknowledged all these years later. But my school invites the parents and my attendance is something I do for my Mom as much as I do for myself.

But before I do the whole nostalgia thing, I'm going to stop at the Solidarity Committee meeting for the workers on strike against Northwest Airlines. The strike has lasted a week and the bullshit is flowing freely on the local media. In spite of all the crap about "business as usual", there is a growing movement supporting the machinists who have a great big target sign on their backs by the capitalist system. Sure, they may be screwed and they may know it, but nobody is going to go down quietly in this rush towards bancruptcy and default on the part of a huge corporation that has been the beneficiary of huge tax incentives from the people of Minnesota.

The corporate executives of Northwest Airline are publicly dumping their stocks like lemmings. Something they can no longer do in secrecy. Well, you know, fuck them!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Really long art galleries

Subways need not be boring or dreary! Many operators of metros, subways or underground railways want to attract more passengers with good station design. This often means extra effort and higher costs for the metro operators but it seems to pay when a metro is more than only a means of traffic but something the population can be proud of.

Check out the Metro Bits website!

Here's a spectacular night shop from a website that focusses on the subways of North Korea:


I found this via Presurfer.

Make your own magazine cover

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
This is a web site that helps you create your very own magazine cover.

I did mine in about three minutes. Not bad. You have to write short, pithy headlines to avoid covering the entire page.

Great idea!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just admit it!

The debate about Cindy Sheehan and her grief over the death of her son, Casey, in the war against Iraq has brought about a a new level of political discussion in our country. Even so, one core element of her protest is being ignored. One simple fact has not been addressed:

Bush believes that Cindy Sheehan's grief is acceptable.

Bush's belief in the war in Iraq is strong enough to allow him to accept the grief of Cindy Sheehan and every other family member who has lost a loved one in the war against Iraq. What is surprising in all of this discussion, is that Bush and his PR machine seem incapable of saying out loud what the rest of us recognize every day.

Bush has decided that the 10 or 20 Americans who will die today and tomorrow and the 50 or 100 Iraqis who will die today and tomorrow are acceptable losses in order to achieve his particular political goals.

In a way, this debate reminds me of the debate we have been having in this country about abortion. Personally, I am willing to accept that a woman's right to choose an abortion has, as a direct consequence, the grief that some people will experience over the death of a fetus. A certain percentage of my fellow citizens believe that a fetus has been murdered when a woman chooses to have an abortion. I am willing to accept their grief. My belief in a woman's right to control her own body is more important to me than the grief that a substantial number of anti-choice citizens might experience at the death of her fetus.

If the death of a fetus can become a topic of public discussion, how can we avoid talking about all the lives that have been snuffed out in the war against Iraq? How in the world can seeing the crosses lining a ditch in Crawford, Texas, and listening to the pain of family members be seen as inappropriate for a man who has deliberately chosen to risk the lives of so many people?

What Sheehan is doing, to the dismay of many, is showing that there are consequences to war.

The war in Iraq may not inconvenience the majority of American citizens. We are not living under rationing. We are not facing blackouts and air raids. We are not buying gas on alternate days based on a sticker attached to our personal vehicles.

But we are, every single day, spending the lives of our fellow citizens and the citizens of Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan's great sin is in making visible what has been hidden all these months and years. The deaths of over 1,800 U.S. soldiers has been invisible. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been invisible. The responsiblity for those deaths, which lays squarely in the hands of Bush and his administration, have been invisible.

Not any more. Cindy Sheehan and the other families of those who have died or been permanently disabled in the war against Iraq, are refusing to let us hide from the consequences of our decisions. We cannot cover up their pain with cinematic fictions about the glory of war. We cannot pretend that war is a struggle of the brave and pure against the evil and small-minded. We must accept that the reality of war is pain for so many people and so many families on all sides of the conflict.

For that honesty, Cindy Sheehan and the families who have come together in Texas deserve our support and respect.