one of the lucky ones

Jee-sus H Christ. If you haven’t been following Baghdad Burning, start now with this.

She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy, “It’s ok- really- I’m one of the lucky ones… all they did was beat me.”

I don’t go in for much of the rah-rah-new-media-paradigm hype about weblogs, but something like this reminds me that at least a little of it is justified. Who else would have told you that story?
Update: because it seems to fit here, and because it should be the point of all the war talk: here is something else about Iraq that you won’t see on CNfuckingN. Warning: contains graphic images of Omar Abdul Kader’s arm after two AK-47 rounds got done with it. Beware. Spousal unit, this means you.
Update the second: if these two items have whet your appetite for insight into what’s actually happening in Iraq, Doc points to a roundup of good sources.

keep off the grass

Laughter is bereaved, but sadly it’s not snobbery that died. Too damn early at 82, Sir Peter Ustinov is dead.
I am terribly sad. The world is a much, much poorer place today.

Posted in woe

you are all so beautiful

wedding portrait by Todd Brownwedding portrait by Todd Brown

Remember Todd, of free wedding portrait fame? Well, the pics are ready. When he talks about “fixing” some of the artefacts produced by his antique camera, I think “feature, not bug” — see for yourself in the two shots I swiped (note: those are about three-fold smaller than the negatives; the prints will be gorgeous at any size). Go see the rest, and remember Todd when you need some photography done.


I thought I’d add some value to the intarweb by posting poems from my personal anthology-in-progress. I have six or seven feet of bookshelf devoted to poetry, and eventually I’d like to have all of my favourite works online. I read somewhere that Welsh bards used to qualify for the position by memorising a thousand poems; I’m not Welsh and I don’t want to be a bard, but I quite like the idea of having a thousand poems by heart. This, at least, is a start.
Here’s ee cummings, the first poet whose work stuck to me like a burr so that I had to read all of it, and a generous helping of criticism besides. There will be lots more cummings in the final anthology.

if i have made,my lady,intricate
if i have made,my lady,intricate
imperfect various things chiefly which wrong
your eyes(frailer than most deep dreams are frail)
songs less firm than your body’s whitest song
upon my mind-if i have failed to snare
the glance too shy-if through my singing slips
the very skillful strangeness of your smile
the keen primeval silence of your hair
-let the world say “his most wise music stole
nothing from death”-
you only will create
(who are so perfectly alive)my shame:
lady through whose profound and fragile lips
the sweet small clumsy feet of April came
into the ragged meadow of my soul.

since feeling is first
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
and death i think is no parenthesis

urinal update

mouth-shaped urinal, ewww Further to the snippet below, Ms Lauren of feministe has received a reply from Virgin to her complaint about the mouth-shaped urinals. Virgin, it seems, are shocked — shocked! — that women would be upset by the design, particularly since the offending objects were designed by women. Of course, since women all think alike and no woman could possibly do anything stupid or boorish. Gah.
On the other hand, Virgin is at least listening to customers, and will not be installing the urinals, which is why I thought it only fair to post this update. (picture swiped from Yahoo news)

i didn’t think he’d come right out and say it

Son of a bitch. From the excellent Orcinus comes the story (Salon, day pass req’d) of one ordinary citizen’s encounter with his President:

It was July 4, 2001, and we were both at one of those things that the late historian Daniel Boorstin would have labeled a “pseudo-event:” A church picnic in Philadelphia, designed to help George W. Bush promote his faith-based policies. I was working at the time for a local nonprofit that had helped set it up, but I had some serious misgivings about the president’s performance up to that point, and being a part of the whole operation had left me feeling a bit like a pseudo-person. So when I had the chance to shake Bush’s hand, I said, “Mr. President, I’m very disappointed in your work so far. I hope you only serve four years.”
His smiling response was swift: “Who cares what you think?”

In David’s comments, Morgan (not his/her own page, but I presume he/she wants to plug it) points out that Snopes has not been able to confirm or deny the story. Well, how would they? It’s Hangley’s word against Shifty George’s. (Hangley is a journalist, he took notes on the spot and there are witnesses. Those notes would be admissible as evidence in court, AFAIK. Unless Shifty can prove it’s a lie I’m buying it.)
Opines Snopes:

There are plenty of traditional outlets for expressing dissatisfaction with the policies and actions of elected representatives, but walking up to the President at a public function and telling him he’s doing a lousy job isn’t one of them. Such behavior demonstrates a lack of respect for the office of President of the United States

Bullshit. What access does Joe Citizen have to an autocrat like GWB? The bastard doesn’t read his mail, and his peons are afraid to relay negative opinions to him. In any case, turn it around: what right does a public servant have to expect nothing but rose petals and red carpets? Why shouldn’t a member of the public take an all-too-rare opportunity to express an opinion directly to an elected official? As for “respect for the office”, that’s even worse bullshit. One respects persons, if they have earned it, one does not kow-tow to a job title.


scissors icon This is just a great post. Go read it.

scissors icon Rebecca points. I drool.

scissors icon Like Terence, I would not have believed this if I hadn’t seen it: men’s room urinals shaped like a woman’s mouth, complete with lipstick. Designed by creepy sad little bastards with serious issues. I would buy a drink, pour it out and find a quiet corner to piss in the container before I would use those things.

scissors iconVia Metafilter: Crop circles, lots of them. These things have become an art form in their own right, and I’m duly impressed by the beauty and complexity of many of the images.

scissors icon Via amphiskios: Computer programs on (vinyl) records. Most were written for the Sinclair Spectrum home computer series, and there’s even an emulator available so you can still run them.

scissors icon Via Pharyngula: The Annals of Improbable Research has a blog. Read about control meat loaf and Troy Hurtubise’s robocop-inspired bearproof suit.

scissors icon Via the increasingly indispensable Graham, this is a nice little gallery of photographs. Explanation (and a contest to win a print, if you’re into that sort of thing) here.

scissors icon Depending on genes, epigenetics, lifestyle and luck, this is at the most a six-times-a-lifetime opportunity: this May, brood X will emerge across more than a dozen mid-western and eastern States (map). Periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp) are fascinating critters (link, link with sound samples and further links). This is the big one, the Great Eastern Brood which can reach densities of 1.5 million cicadas per acre. I’d love to take a road trip to see (and record) this.

scissors icon Subway systems of the world presented on the same scale; nineteen major cities shown as I write this. (via just about everyone, but too good not to post)

begrudging bastards

Martha.jpgSo I see Martha Stewart was convicted of being rich while female and being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a slack-pizzled pack of political opportunists decided they needed to grab some headlines. Oh, and also of being kind of a bitch. Well, here’s some news for you gleeful assholes filling up on Schadenfreude right now: the appeals court is likely to notice that the real charge was thrown out and the remaining ones were a desperate grab at a conviction, any conviction, in a case over fifty thousand dollars and some arrogance. Here’s more for that worthless shitsack juror who just couldn’t wait for his fifteen minutes: this is not a victory for the little guy, you maggot, it’s a scripted take-down for the cameras and you bent right over for the system.
Go ahead, tell me how Martha deserves to do time while this prick hasn’t even been charged. Bah. I thought I’d left the Tall Poppy Syndrome behind. (publicity shot swiped from wikipedia article)


scissors icon Photojournalist Shannon Higgins offers a tour of Kamagasaki, the largest slum in Japan. Don’t miss the rest of her site, either. (I think I found this on Metafilter.)

scissors icon (via nearly everyone by now) Elena likes to ride her bike through the Chernobyl dead zone, and she has a photo log of sorts. This sort of thing is what the web is for. (Mirror site here.)

scissors icon (via Eliot) The Activists’ Center for Training in Organizing and Networking has loads of good information. Check out their Corporate Accountability Project‘s in-depth information on consuming less, corporations to boycott, corporate welfare and more.

scissors icon (from Graham) Best. Ask Metafilter Thread. Ever. Will sirmissalot eat the crab that he left out of the ‘fridge overnight? If he does, will he die? Can we watch on webcam, and dude can I have your CDs if you croak? Call me sick, but I laughed my way through this thread like a hyaena.

scissors icon Planet Party. Starting in just a few days, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter will all be visible to the naked eye, an opportunity for sensawunda that won’t come our way again until 2036. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mercury, now that I stop to think about it. I’ve seen all the others, but never together.

write to the attorney general

(via b!X) Governor Ted Kulongoski has asked the State Attorney General Hardy Myers for an opinion on the legality of same sex marriage in Oregon. Myers has released a list of the questions on which he will focus and provided a comment form through which residents can provide feedback. My letter to the Attorney General is below.
Update: today’s Oregonian reports that Myers will not finalize his opinion until tomorrow at the earliest — so get writing!
Dear Attorney General Myers:
thank you for this opportunity to comment on such a vital issue. I am not a lawyer, and so cannot speak to the legal complexities before you. At the bottom of all of the argument over same sex marriage, however, lies what I believe to be a simple question: do we want America to be a country in which gays and lesbians are officially second class citizens?
For that is exactly what we will be accepting, if we deny gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry. Civil unions and domestic partnership registries and all the other “separate but equal” paraphernalia are merely another way of saying “these people are different in the eyes of the law”. Even if civil unions offered the exact same privileges and immunities as marriage — which they do not — such provisions amount to nothing short of apartheid. Forcing same-sex couples to formalize their commitment by a separate process will no more constitute equal treatment than separate schools constituted equal treatment for African-Americans in the middle of the last century.
I have heard, as I am sure you have, a great many arguments against same sex marriage. Many of these are identical to arguments that were put forth against racial integration or inter-racial marriage, and the most honest of them amount to no more than reflexive rejection of change; many are a thin disguise for prejudice.
Marriage is what society decides it is; the institution has a history of change, after all, since women are no longer chattels and inter-racial marriage is commonplace. Children do not define marriage — for instance, my wife and I have, and will have, no children. In any case, several decades’ worth of research has found no inkling of a reason why gay couples should not adopt (see, for example, the references listed below). There is no theological barrier to same sex marriage, because no scripture gives a definitive answer and for every clerical opponent of gay marriage there is another, often of the same denomination, who has performed such marriages him- or herself. The much-bruited idea that same sex marriage will somehow make heterosexual marriage “less meaningful” is simply ridiculous. No marriage, be the couple gay or heterosexual, has any means of impact on the value or quality of any other marriage. As for the institution, I dare say it will only benefit from an influx of many thousands of couples and families eager to join, celebrate and consecrate it.
I write, then, to ask you to keep justice foremost in your thoughts as you wrestle with the law. As it was in earlier civil rights debates, so it is now the role of the courts to see clearly which way lies justice, and to light that way for the people they serve.
References on children in gay families:
from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002, pp. 339-340 (link)
PEDIATRICS Vol. 109 No. 2 February 2002, pp. 341-344 (link)
Anderssen, N et al. Outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents. A review of studies from 1978 to 2000. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology Volume 43 Issue 4 Page 335 September 2002 (link)
Allen M, Burrell N. Comparing the impact of homosexual and heterosexual parents on children: meta-analysis of existing research. J Homosex. 1996; vol 32 number 2 pp. 19-35 (link)
Patterson CJ. Children of lesbian and gay parents. Child Dev. 1992 vol 63 number 5 pp. 1025-42.
Hunfeld JA, et al. Child development and quality of parenting in lesbian families: no psychosocial indications for a-priori withholding of infertility treatment. A systematic review. Hum Reprod Update. 2002 vol 8 number 6 pp. 579-90.