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30 November 2005

City Pages - Sgt. Briggs's War

The Twin Cities' weekly newspaper City Pages tells the story of yet more underestimated and underfunded support for US soldiers in Iraq through the story of one Iowa man, grievously injured in Iraq, hurriedly retired from the National Guard and now receiving care at the VA hospital in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis VA is one of four new "polytrauma" treatment centers set up to handle the new complexes of injuries that soldiers are experiencing (and surviving) in 21st century warfare. But how are they going to cope with the incoming flood of veterans from this war on the one hand, and massive funding cuts on the other?

28 November 2005

Thinking nationally and acting pro-actively . . .

In Which parts of the U.S. have put themselves in nature's way? the online environmental magazine Weekly Grist attempts to predict where the next Katrina-style disaster for the US might occur. Complete with interactive topgraphic map and scary symbols.

27 November 2005

This is not the country that I once knew

Former US President Jimmy Carter's article in last week's Observer is a strong and unequivocal condemnation of the current administration's abrogation of international treaties and agreements, and the inevitable forteiture of international respect and credibility that follows. And, as a man of faith (a faith far more demonstrable and sincere than that of Mr. "God-told-me-to-attack-Iraq" Bush), Carter also deplores the increasing militarism and fundamentalism of American Christianity. A must-read article.

23 November 2005

My yoga retreat weekend

This post is a little late in coming. I got back from my weekend Sunday night, intending to post right away, with some nice pictures. But I have a "new" laptop and thus I had a few technical glitches (or maybe just senior moments - DH, don't say a word!) And I had a terrible Monday night experience courtesy of Central Trains and Midland Mainline, although I forgive Midland Mainline because they apologised and sent me home in a taxi. (Other than that little bit, I don't want to talk about it.)
So, the Dru Yoga Centre near Bangor in Wales, is very lovely. Pure air and water, vegetarian foods, gentle vibes, warm and cosy "chalets". I particularly enjoyed the walk through the rolling countryside to a nearby bubbling stream (or small river). The yoga was OK too, although I only attended half the sessions; after all, I was there to relax. There will be a link for all the pictures soon.

16 November 2005

Experian study analyses Katrina impact

Experian USA will be conducting a study to track the outstanding payable balances of 635,000 businesses, the large majority of which are small businesses employing fewer than 50 people. The data will be broken down by major sector, SIC codes, and size and age of the businesses, as well as geographically. So far, it is known that businesses in the affected areas had outstanding payables of $40 billion. Repayment on invoices and debt is a way of tracking business recovery.
This is a good thing, but only a fly's-eye view of the whole economic picture, in my opinion. (Trust me! I have a bachelor's degree - in Economics!) In order to pay off debt and try to claw a way back into the marketplace, many small businesses will slash staff. This will of course have a ripple effect. Already my relatives in the area tell about the impossibility of booking any motel accommodation for at least a year. They were all snatched up in the first weeks by insurance, consulting and construction firms flocking into the Gulf region to work on, and no doubt profit from, the recovery. I have nothing against profit, of course, but this does rather leave the remaining residents "high and dry" (sick wordplay, I confess) when it comes to jobs and housing. The study is not measuring any of this, but somebody should be.

11 November 2005

Wanna piece of this?

First, a jab to the nose! Then a hook to the temple! Next, knight takes bishop on D5! Testing both brains and brawn, it is supposedly the ultimate alpha-male sport.
Yes, it's . . . chess boxing! Deborama is absolutely fascinated by this new international sport that started out life as a very subtle performance art piece and now nets its artist-founder a tidy little income.

09 November 2005

Finding My Religion, by Diablo Cody

Diablo Cody's all-purpose lapsed-Catholic (but not totally lapsed) confession of faith in City Pages is incredibly moving, despite the clever, hip, former-sex-worker tone. Read every word, there are some real gems of writing there.

02 November 2005

CIA Tour with Ginger Bear

I kid you not!

More than 300 years of the Raj . . .

. . . and the British have no idea about curry! There is a joke about a British lad (of, say, 50) who has had a curry late at night, after a marathon drinking session in one or more pubs, nearly every Friday night of his adult life. Then one day he has one for lunch. And is appalled at how unpleasantly hot and pungent it is! And British men, in particular, do not know how to make curry. They are always very proud of their fiery creations, with loads of half-cooked onion, tinned tomatoes, extra chili, and a huge wad of raw madras curry paste dumped in at the last minute. It's more of a trial by ordeal than a meal deal, let me tell you. (See the excellent cookbook Cooking Like Mummiji, touted on these pages, for lessons in a better way.)
The catering service at my place of employment is officially "celebrating Diwali". Far be it from me to criticise their attempts at cultural sensitivity, but today they featured a Beef Madras. Besides being Diwali (or near to it, anyway) it is also into the last few days of Ramadan. So who exactly is going to eat this Beef Madras, amongst the Indian and Pakistani members of our workforce? Hindus (hello!) don't eat beef (if they are devout) and Muslims don't eat lunch during Ramadan (if they're observant.) So there you go. All the British lads can "celebrate Diwali" by devouring sacred cow cooked in a manner that would make Mummiji blanch. I saw one of our Asian or British Asian employees or contractors special-ordering a Vegetarian Madras, so I popped into the queue behind him and said "I'll have what he's having." But our "chef" is a British lad and it was - well, pretty bad. All hot and sour where it should have been pungent and alluring, no subtlety, loads of onions. Nice try, but no banana.

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