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29 August 2005

Katrina headed for Mississippi

Most of the web news is focusing on New Orleans and the Louisiana coast in the hurricane Katrina story, but it appears that the Mississippi Coast is taking the brunt of landfall. This is something that concerns Deborama very much, as her mother, father, sister, brother-in-law and nephew all live in Gulfport. The live CNN and Fox News reports from the beach in Gulfport are very frightening. I am waiting for it to be a little later and then I will phone the other sister in Hattiesburg to see if the parents got evacuated and are up in Hattiesburg. I also have a young friend, mainly a friend of daughter Aimee, who lives in New Orleans. Apparently 80% of New Orleans is evacuated. Of course the concern there, apart from the possible loss of life, is the devastation that will result if the levees are breached and the petroleum wastes, toxic chemicals and septic tank contents flood New Orleans, which is up to 10 feet below sea level in places.

25 August 2005


I am posting this from my new laptop. Sorry for the huge lapse in blogging. Going back to work (11 hours per day), and trying to keep up the momentum of my new healthy lifestyle (10 hours per day, including 7 hours for sleep), and spend at least a little time with DH(3 to 4 hours per day), none of which can be done simultaneously, simply does not leave time for blogging. Something's gotta give! Any suggestions?

20 August 2005

U.S. lowers sights on what can be achieved in Iraq

This article from the Washington Post details how the current US administration is gradually coming to realise that their initial "plans" for post-war Iraq were based on a very faulty understanding of Iraqi history and politics. With all the government officials being quoted anonymously, it appears that they are still rather skittish about openly admitting the unrealistic and even naive nature of the original ambitions for a unified, secular, pro-western government to emerge after the "liberation" from Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials now acknowledge that they misread the strength of the sentiment among Kurds and Shi'ites to create a special status. The Shi'ites' request this month for autonomy to be guaranteed in the constitution stunned the Bush administration, even after more than two years of intense intervention in Iraq's political process, they said.
The US administration is giving up such hopes as the enshrinement of women's rights in the constitution, a totally secular government and the complete integration of Kurds and Shi'ites into a unified Iraq. Instead, they are now focusing limiting the failures by influencing the constitutional process to make it easier to amend in the future, and establishing some credibility and order in an accelerated withdrawal of coalition troops and advisers.

The best die young, part II

Mo Mowlam passed away yesterday after a period of grave illness. She survived a brain tumour several years ago. Among other glowing tributes, Prime Minister Tony Blair said of her:

It is no exaggeration to say she transformed the politics not just of Northern Ireland itself but crucially of relations between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, and it was this transformation that created the culture in which peace-making could flourish.

18 August 2005


My boy Carey has finally got his website up and running. Go see it. Buy some art. I love it, and not just 'cause he's my son, either.

14 August 2005

The naive American - a correction

I posted (In good faith, having seen it in more than one "proper" news source) that the woman shot with Steven Vincent, American trouble-making blogger in Basra, was his fiancee as well as his translator. "Fiancee" being often the polite term for lover these days. This article in the 5 August Guardian G2 section causes me to be pretty sure that this was not the case. The article goes into far more depth about who Vincent was and where he was from, and quotes extensively, amongst others, from his wife back in New York City who was in almost daily contact with him and knew all about Nouriya and is adamant that the relationship was a platonic friendship. This is fairly important, because it has been suggested that the "reason" for the attack was a presumed sexual relationship between the two.

10 August 2005


I am halfway through the first week of my functional restoration programme. It is not Army basic training tough, but it is tough nevertheless. We were warned on Monday that our levels of pain may increase at first, that emotions would well up, and that we may have some negative feelings about the treatment. All true! Today we had a lecture about stress and learned that we may be experiencing random floods of adrenalin. Well, that may explain the two almost sleepless nights, despite being bone-tired, and the strange desire to do violence to DH, who has no idea what I am going through. Hormones mostly suck, in my opinion. And I say this despite having experienced pregnancy (thanks, I actually slightly prefer old age!) and having at least the memory of having a great sex life. The problems with hormones is that the good vibes they give you are far more than outweighed by the misery they can cause in other circumstances. YMMV.

07 August 2005

Robin Cook dies after collapse on mountain

In the UK as in the US, it seems that the best die young. Robin Cook was only 59, with possibly the best part of his already brilliant political career ahead of him. This is a very sad turn of events.

Blogkeeping and personal stuff

I have made some minor changes to the template. I added my Truth Laid Bear status back in, now that I am back in the mammal category, although at a vermin level. Also, see the update of the Constant Gardener post to read about my woes over at the book review blog, and plea for debugging help.
Blogging may be scarce for the next two weeks, or it may be better than usual. I am off work, but attending day-long physical therapy, group therapy and punishing exercise sessions at the Priory, Sketchley Hall. Meanwhile at home, we are embarking on an intensive six-week house makeover, to put our house on the market for the second time. This time, we're serious.
In preparation for the above-mentioned PT fortnight, I decided to bite the bullet and get my hair cut really short. I have had medium to long hair for the past decade. I went to local unisex hair-cutter and said cut it really short - not a crew cut, but short enough so that nothing can touch my face. With a fringe (American = bangs) but not heavy or long. And that's what I got. It looks quite different. When I brush my teeth, I reach for my hair to keep it up out of the way and there is no hair. When I go to bed, I feel as if I need to "let my hair down" but there is nothing to let down. My scores of hair scrunchies and bobby pins can be hidden away, possibly forever. I am a new woman.

03 August 2005

Fearless Basra blogger is abducted and murdered

This story is from the Times Online. Steven Vincent was an American journalist/blogger based in Basra. He had been posting stories about the conditions of lawlessness and corruption in the (supposedly) British-controlled area, stories that were often critical of the British military. He was also the author of a well-received book about post-invasion Iraq and was said to be working on another about the history of Basra. He was kidnapped along with his translator and fiancee, who is seriously wounded.
Update: see correction post above.

"The Constant Gardener"

I see that David le Carre's last-but-one book, "The Constant Gardener", is to be made into a film. This is a great idea - not only is this one of le Carre's most moving and passionate books, with a message that is rarely seen in literature or non-fiction, but it is told in a very cinematic way. I can hardly wait to see it.
This post will be cross-posted at Deborama's Books and if I can get my lazy donkey in gear, I may even re-read and review it.
I was also very taken with le Carre's last book, Absolute Friends, but somehow I doubt that will ever be made into a movie. Not in this decade anyway.

***Update*** 7 August
I did try to cross-post this at Deborama's Book Reviews and Store, but we are having problems over there and I ended up deleting the post. For some reason, my template no longer displays as it did. Look and see, it's all messed up. I tried debugging it with my limited HTML/CSS skills but failed. Also, Amazon associates has changed the links they give you from simple text and/or book-cover graphics to some horrible, busy, scripted box, which really does not work with my book blog's format very well. The two latest posts use what they provide, and I don't like the look of it at all. I can edit it down to something useable, as I did with this post, but yecch. If anyone wants to volunteer to help me debug my book review template, or wants to offer a shortcut to getting simple links from Amazon, I would be very grateful.

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