I think you should not enter into the debate on same sex marriages until you have read The Marriage of Likeness: Same-sex Unions in pre-modern Europe, by John Boswell. That's what I think.
29 February 2004
So, Joel is whinging about the fact that I didn't link to him in my summary about The Passion of the Christ. Here, here and here are all the links I found from Joel. Are you happy now? (Just teasing, Joel, I do in fact love your blogs.) Actually, I inadvertently lied in the tag board when I said I hadn't read Joel's posts before I wrote the post below; the first of those links was one of the first things I read about the Passion, and it impressed me, in places, to the point where it set me out (the next day) searching to see what the blogosphere in general was saying and thinking. So why didn't I post about Joel's article at first? Well, two reasons. One, it was late at night when I read it and I was just too tired. This often happens, either late at night or in the middle of a busy day at work, that I read a really provocative post (in the sense of provoking deep thoughts, not provoking bad behaviour or anything) and I am not in a position where I can write about my thoughts. My specific thoughts may float away irretrievably amongst the mind chatter of the day or the swirl of nightly dreams, but the seed of the thoughts remain behind and sometimes, not always, spark an essay of my own later. Two (bet your forgot there was a two coming, huh?), sometimes even if I am alert and have time and have lovely fully-formed thoughts provoked by a lovely fully-formed post, I don't post about it, or comment on it, or anything. This is just because I can't be sure that my own thoughts are not just "pissing on the territory" so to speak. If I am massively impressed, I may just post a link and an awed, brief remark, but when it falls somewhere in between - I have some strong agreement, some minor nitpicks, a few "I don't get its" but an overall pleasurable sense of engagement with the post - I often just don't feel that I can add anything worth publishing. If I had unlimited time, and we could all meet face to face in an infinite coffeehouse somewhere and talk to our hearts' content, I would say a lot more. The blog is an imperfect tool, striving for some as yet undefined ideal.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 16:23
28 February 2004
27 February 2004
For my readers in the US, I know you're sick of hearing this stuff. It is so all over the blogosphere that one blogger even put up a disclaimer "Largely Passion-free zone" or words to that effect. For my readers in the UK and the rest of Europe, you will probably not quite get what all the - ahem - passion is about. I can't explain it; it's an American thing. So for the mystery-play, passion-play tour of the century - where to begin? Probably with Pink Dream Poppies of Alas, a blog: Why are some people obsessed with the Crucifixion? part 1 and part 2. This is not as much about the film itself as about the examination of various Christian/American obsessions that the film is hatching out (in this case Protestant.) But Gibson and the film are both extremely Catholic, so to get a "good" Catholic's interpretation, we turn to the ever-reliable Jeanne of Body and Soul and a post called Pain. OK, enough about the cultural matrix for now, let's get to the film: Orcinus (The Passion of Mad Max Beyond Braveheart) and The Agonist (A Passion for Blood) have the two harshest, most unremittingly critical views on the film. The Orcinus one is especially long but very rich in insights and worth a read, especially if you are trying to decide whether to see it or not.
Turning back now to the cultural matrix, the major theme is anti-semitism, as in, is this film anti-semitic or not? This is not a simple question. Two very thoughtful articles from the Christian Science Monitor, one by Paula Frederikson and one by noted film critic Michael Medved, come up with contrary conclusions. But then as if to prove Medved wrong, this happened. TBogg's blog covers it with the post titled Things to do in Denver when you're anti-semitic and Joshua of View from a Height, based in Denver, says simply Oy gevalt. Meryl Yourish has another (besides mine) symposium of links about the reactions to the film, and also covers the story of the woman of about my age who perished from a heart attack during the climactic crucifixion scene. In the interest of being fair and balanced, Humanae Vitae, the blog of a "Christ-centered Catholic college student", has this to say. And finally, I cannot leave this subject without checking out the views of a Real Live Preacher.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:05
26 February 2004
I use MyYahoo (UK) a lot - as a point of departure, for free mobile e-mail and to check currency rates and the daily dose of Doonesbury. They have a feature on the page called "New to Yahoo" and today they are showcasing Subvertise.org. Subvertise is not new to me; I have had it on my links page for ages.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 11:56
Breaking news from the Times via Google News UK: the president of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, was killed in a plane crash, just hours before he was due to meet Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, to discuss matters relating to Macedonia's entry into the EU. From the sketchy information in this news flash story, he sounds like he was a very exceptional leader and someone who will be sorely missed throughout Europe.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 11:31
Via Common Dreams, this is an excellent article by David Cole from the LA Times.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 07:04
25 February 2004
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:15
24 February 2004
As perhaps you can guess from that big fat moon thing in the left-hand column, I have a bit of a thing about the moon. The past couple of nights there has been a lovely moon-venus conjunction. In our part of the world, it was exceedingly beautiful Monday night. I saw it as I got off the train, on the way to my yoga class and just after it (about 9 pm.) The moon was a waxing crescent, and slightly pale orange, and Venus was about three moon diameters away, above and to the right, and looked very blue and twinkly.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:51
22 February 2004
The supposedly imminent capture of Osama bin Laden is being handled with kid gloves by almost every source except the one that broke the story, the Sunday Express.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 16:13
James Caviezel talks about the physical and spiritual ordeal of playing Jesus on film. He thought he was being interviewed for a surfing film, and when he found he was being asked to play Jesus Christ, his immediate reaction was a sincere "I'm not worthy." The actor, a devout Roman Catholic, resorted to prayer to find the strength to perform the role.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 16:05
katura: HEAR YE, HEAR YE! is a post on LJ explaining all about the summary non-negotiable deletion of her and a friend's account george_w_bush, supposedly for impersonating a celebrity without a disclaimer. I got this link from Zota.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 15:46
21 February 2004
Doonesbury comic strip illustrates the position of Iraq today; I guess you could say between a rock and a hard place. Uncle Duke pulls no punches. I know it's very un-PC, but I love Uncle Duke. I think I was briefly married to him in a past life.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 20:04
20 February 2004
This article at washingtonpost.com, which I picked up from Avedon Carol's post "Every sentence is a life sentence", details the huge burden of post-prison sanctions that prevent non-violent offenders from re-integrating into society and getting away from their criminal associations. A classic example of knee-jerk bad policy-making.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:45
The case against GCHQ "whistle-blower" Katharine Gun is expected to be abandoned when the proceedings resume next week, according to the Guardian. The case has continued to be almost ignored by mainstream media in the US.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 09:51
19 February 2004
British prisoners at Guantanamo's Camp Delta are sort of one of my "pet issues" on this blog. So tonight, there is breaking news - good, but not as good as we were led to hope. Five British detainees will be sent home. Four remain. Of the four, two almost certainly face a "military trial". If you choose to call it that. Personally, I am fairly convinced that these two men are, if not innocent, certainly not the dangerous terrorists that the US government has portrayed them. Read these articles about Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abassi and decide for yourself. And if you know of a reliable source with any information that is counter to this, let me know, in the comments or, if they don't work (they're down at the moment) on the tag board or by e-mail.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:51
Voice4change.org features a letter /essay / rant by Scott Galindez of Truthout Books to/against the unbelievably repellent Ann Coulter, for her ham-fisted attempt to smear the reputation of Max Cleland. It includes a facility to send an angry e-mail if you wish to Coulter's online "Conservative" publication.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 21:39
The UK government is ignoring all the overwhelming negative reactions from the so-called great GM Debate and is set to approve the first commercial plantings next week. This blog is very interested in the GM issue in the context of the wider concern that we call "food politics" (see Deborama's Kitchen for more information about that.) Previous posts here and here have covered the sham that was called the Great GM Debate.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 12:45
17 February 2004
I have created a blog aggregator list in Bloglines, a free aggregator web-based thingie. (That's a highly technical term - thingie.) It's on the page, down there in the left margin area, just under the old Blogroll from Blogrolling. Right now there are some duplicates, but as I add things on Bloglines, I will take them off from Blogrolling, so there won't be any duplicates in the end. Also, this blog is itself in the list. I am working on getting a "button" on the page so that you can add my RSS feed to your news or blog aggregator if you want to. Bear with me - I am not a web developer! I basically know how to copy and paste and (sort of) read a basic html manual.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 23:18
Sunday was Lewis's and my fifth wedding anniversary. I celebrated this by working my b*tt off shifting books around and ended up with a massive backache. No time to blog.
Monday, fortunately, is my Dru Yoga night. This helped my back. (Thanks, Mitch!) But still, no time to blog.
Yesterday and today as well, terribly busy at work. No time to blog, really, but I am just checking in. I hope to have a launch of an exciting new development in the Deborama suite of websites tonight. If I have time to blog.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 13:51
14 February 2004
From the Marin Independent Journal, coverage of the latest gold rush in San Francisco: the wedding band rush for gay and lesbian couples.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 16:10
A very topical discovery in outer space - just in time for Valentines - the universe's largest (so far!) diamond. In case you're curious, it's about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carats.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 16:07
13 February 2004
Dick Jones of Patteran Pages has been blogging at length about the issue of the casually racist treatment of gypsies, or Roma, or "travellers" as they tend to call them here. In fact it is spread over four recent posts: here, here, here and here.
I was planning on posting this even before I read this shocking story in today's Independent.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:54
Is now Letters From a Strip of Dirt. There is a category index, and one of the categories is called "Making brown people go Explody-boom". This exquisite rant against jingoist war-bloggers is one of the posts in that category.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:45
12 February 2004
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 21:45
The Aardvark Speaks, a very excellent blog originating from Austria, has a serious post (not all his posts are serious) about a piece of Austrian history that is probably not well known in the rest of the world. And strangely apt for our troubled times.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 21:37
I am finally starting to get really busy at work. The downside is - less blogging. I hardly ever actually posted blogs from work, but I would e-mail myself links at home and then in the evening, go through them and use the Blog button on my Google toolbar to post something. (That's why a lot of my posts are short - but pithy! Otherwise, I'd be up all night.)
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 20:42
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is number one and there are two Python flicks in the top 20 British movies of all time. The list:
1 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
2 A Clockwork Orange (1971)
3 Trainspotting (1996)
4 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
5 The Third Man (1949)
6 Shakespeare In Love (1998)
7 Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979)
8 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
9 Sense and Sensibility (1995)
10 Love Actually (2003)
11 Goldfinger (1964)
12 Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
13 The Full Monty (1997)
14 Elizabeth (1998)
15 The Italian Job (1969)
16 The English Patient (1996)
17 Doctor Zhivago (1965)
18 Gandhi (1982)
19 Chariots of Fire (1981)
20 Withnail and I (1987)
I didn't know The Third Man was British. I wish Room With A View had made it. Otherwise, it's a pretty good list.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 20:32
11 February 2004
There were no blog entries yesterday because I was away at my father-in-law's funeral, down south - a crematorium in Basingstoke. My first British funeral; I remarked to hubby, who is a bitter atheist, that I can now see why he hates church services and hymns so much. I could learn to dislike them myself if this is the best the C of E has to offer. One traditional British touch I rather liked - the undertaker brings the coffin and hearse to the house (the widow's house now) and we all get in our various cars (could be hired limos but this family is frugal, so just our cars) and line up behind the hearse - and the undertaker walks to the end of the road in front of the hearse. Then we had to drive to Basingstoke, about 35 minutes, I think. Then we had to drive back and go make nice at the deceased's bowling club, which smelt horribly of old men and stale cigarette smoke. But we survived.
And not much to say today because the little time I had for the web (until this moment, and after this I'm off to bed) has been spent tracking down and joining the UK chapter of Democrats Abroad. They just had their caucus in London on Monday, which sadly I missed because I didn't know they existed. Better late than never, I guess.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 21:53
09 February 2004
From BBC News:
An American Airlines pilot terrified passengers on his flight when he asked Christians to identify themselves and went on to call non-Christians "crazy".
I have nothing to say about this, except I'm glad I wasn't there; I have a weak heart. As Jeanne of Body and Soul says, just imagine if this guy was a Muslim and did that.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 16:24
Protestants for the Common Good offer this (satirical) aid to Christians praying for guidance for President Bush as he seeks to legally codify the definition of marriage, as a precursor to advancing the "Defense of Marriage" act. (Question: why is this being left to a "C" student? I thought Bush's big strength was his ability to delegate, so get some theologians and legal scholars together in a room or something. Or do they suspect that such a committee would end up recommending he drop the whole thing?)
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 11:38
08 February 2004
Over at Deborama's Book Reviews, I have finally reviewed Cavedweller, which I think completes all the books (update: that were) down the left margin of this page that were my big recommendations for 2003. So now I can put up some new ones for 2004. (Update: I have done it.) In the Bloggers Parliament, we are undertaking an experiment in problem-solving and I have put up one link to a How to Save The World article in response to that.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 14:27
07 February 2004
I assume that US based accounts didn't see this? Or are they not that clever after all? The weekly e-mail report I get from SiteMeter has the following marketing message at the top:
Take advantage of the weak US dollar and upgrade your Site Meter account for a full year. Click here to convert the $59 USD upgrade price into your local currency.
In my local currency it's about £32, so I'll pass, ta.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 11:38
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 00:28
06 February 2004
This leaked government report is the front page, above-the-fold headline in the Guardian today. And a very scary story it is, too, involving everything from nurses' automatic perception of black patients as drug addicts to the wholly avoidable death of a black patient in a mental health institution.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 23:36
On my way to the train from my office Wednesday night, I saw something mildly interesting and I said to my self, "Self, you should blog about that." By the time I got home I forgot that I had seen anything. Sometime Thursday, either on the train to work or while walking about, I remembered that I had seen something I wanted to blog about, but I could not remember what it was, or exactly where and when I had seen it. (Don't laugh, you'll be just like this when you're 51, worse if you drink too much.) I didn't remember what it was until I was walking to the train from the office tonight and I happened to glance to one side just as I was crossing a bridge over the canal. (On this map, I walk down Carrington Street and the blue line is the canal.) I happened to glance at the water and remembered: Wednesday evening there was a solitary person paddling a kayak swiftly through the swollen brown waterway. (we're having some floods just now.) I don't know why, but it struck me. I wanted to stand and watch or maybe run down to the canal and ask him where he was going and why a kayak. Of course, I didn't. If I had I would have remembered.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 23:00
04 February 2004
03 February 2004
Rick Perlstein's latest article in the Village Voice is an analysis of the New Hampshire primary and of the current state of the Dems' campaigns. The bumblebee in the title is Dean ("after the sting, they die"). It is not certain that Dean is dead although it looks more likely by the day. And Perlstein, like other commentators, doesn't give high odds for Clark's chances either; he accuses the Clark campaign of "magical thinking" for believing that by being a liberal and yet a general, Clark can somehow resolve all political paradoxes. But the major point is that Dean's candidacy has stirred up the Democratic party and demonstrated that you don't have to act like a Republican to beat them. And also that the plethora of Democratic candidates, all but one of whom will fall by the way, all have good ideas that can be incorporated into a truly liberal but pragmatic platform for the nominee to carry forward.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 22:40
Jeanne of Body and Soul has an update on the upcoming hearing for James Yee, the Islamic chaplain to the prisoners at Camp Delta. Initially arrested on suspicion of espionage, he has never been formally charged with anything. The military lacked evidence for espionage, so Yee was released, only to be charged with downloading pornography and adultery. (I don't know about you, but I find that ironic on several levels.) Neither of these latter-day charges is very well-supported and it is possible that they will be dropped. Supporters believe he was charged with whatever came to hand, to prevent him speaking out about the conditions at Camp Delta.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 19:53
02 February 2004
I forgot it was Imbolc/St. Brigid/Groundhog Day until I read this in the Independent on the train coming to work this morning. I have always loved this film and every time I see it, I see something new and inspiring. Another older Bill Murray film, hardly known, is his portrayal of the main character in Somerset Maughams' The Razor's Edge. And now he has made Lost in Translation, which I must see very soon.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 11:08
01 February 2004
Responding to a reader suggestion, I have added Haloscan comments to Deborama's Book Reviews and Store, my not-nearly-popular-enough book review page.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 19:58
Joel of Pax Nortona sent via e-mail a link to this editorial in the NYT on "How to Hack an Election." It tells of the pitifully bad security rating given to a proposed online voting system in Maryland; and are you surprised to learn that the state officials gave the negative report a very positive spin and are going to proceed to use the system? Easily picked locks on hardware, the ability to change vote counts in the voting booth by attaching a keyboard, and the ability to change vote counts remotely were all picked up in the report, and even if these glaring deficiencies are fixed, the system has no audit trail to fall back on if better hackers appear (which they always do.)
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 12:55
Here's a quirky little story in the Observer Music Monthly: Sting writes of his adventures in Nepal with his 18-year-old son and two travelling companions.
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 08:37
What do Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dante have in common, but not in common with the Pope and the late Billy Graham? The answer is a literal interpretation of hell. So says Rose Marie Berger in Sojourners Magazine/November-December 2003. After explaining why people who have been through a bloody war or a terrible persecution prefer an image of Jesus as the stern judge at the end of time, she ends her article with this excellent quote:
"The best answers to sticky theological questions are usually from those closest to the problem. If you want to know about poverty, ask a poor person. If you want to know about hell, ask someone who's been there."
Posted by Debra Keefer Ramage at 06:25