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30 March 2006

The left hand of God

Here is an interview with Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun magazine, briefly a policy adviser to Pres. Clinton, and now the author of The Left Hand of God - Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right. This is from an online magazine about the environment called The Weekly Grist.

28 March 2006

The lonesome death of Rachel Corrie

A play based on the life of Rachel Corrie was cancelled in the US. Billy Bragg has written a song about it, to the tune of Bob Dylan's haunting and memorable ballad, "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll". You can download it from The Guardian.

27 March 2006

Swami Beyondananda calls for up-wising

This is priceless - and necessary.

In 2005, Americans had to face the sad realization that the Bush Administration's "pro-life" stance appears to be limited to the unborn and the brain-dead. Despite being panned by critics everywhere, the Iraqi Horror Picture Show continued its run, as thousands and thousands of born fetuses - ours and theirs -- lost their right to life. While we may or may not have saved face by staying there, we have most definitely lost ass. And we've been assured we'll be stuck in that morass until -- well, until there's no more ass to lose.

18 March 2006

The next logical step

A few years ago, I read and reviewed a very clever SF novel called Jennifer Government. Some people reading this book might have thought: clever premise, but it can't happen here. Oh, yeah? I just hear about how Target (a private corporation with which I do have some personal history, I confess) is now making a nice little profit on selling forensic services to police and FBI, because of course a private company can afford to have the highest state-of-the-art facility when it is needed to protect their property. How long before the next logical step, and the police will need to charge crime victims so they can afford the fees to use the high-tech labs they contract for from private corporations?

16 March 2006

Blogkeeping - meta-blog me

I still occasionally indulge in the blog-related sport of link tracking. If I click on the counter at the bottom (and I think this will work for you too, if you're interested. No? Thought not.) I can choose to view the last 100 page hits by the referring page. The vast majority of them are search results and this is where it gets interesting. Two things of interest to me are trends and being number one for "obscure" searches. In the trends world, there was a time when I got a lot of hits for searches on Jive Turkey (a turkey restaurant in NYC that I mentioned in passing on Deborama's Kitchen) and Aimee Tyler, a minor soft-porn actress or model or something (I had a really hard time finding a picture clean enough to link to on a family-friendly blog.) This was because of the caption to the family reunion picture, where my daughter Aimee and my nephew Tyler just happened to be standing next to each other. These two entities must have fallen out of fashion because I hardly ever see these search terms any more. Almost from the beginning, I have had tons of hits from people who try to widen their pathetic horizons by typing the word "sex" into a Yahoo or Google search. In fact, for at least the past two years, this has accounted for about 40% of all hits and at least 50% of search result hits. My ranking in terms of where in the list Deborama falls has moved up steadily from low three figures to 88th to 30th (with Yahoo.) This result only happens if the searcher uses the directory function rather than searching the whole web. I guess commercial online sex shops don't use the directory, which is really stupid of them. If you search "the web" for sex, you get 558 million hits, but if you search the Yahoo directory, you get less than 2000. I am not sure where Deborama falls amongst the 558 million, but it is there, although obviously this list is very volatile. Now, here's an interesting trend. After sex, the highest number of search hits are for people searching for recipes, hitting Deboramas' Kitchen. And by far, at least 90%, are searching for a recipe for hash-browns. Who knew? And of course, although these anonymous searchers have no way to know this, I actually do have one of the best hash-browns recipes in the world.
On the other track, there a few interesting searches where a Deborama blog comes out at number one. For instance, I have a super-meta-links page called Deborama's Fund of Knowledge and it comes out first on a search for "fund of knowledge". I will try not to let that go to my head. In the recent statistics, there is another of those serendipitous hits; I posted a link to a story in Fried Green al-Qaedas about a veteran's hospital in the late 1970s that mentioned the phrase "POW mentality". The first hit on the search term was my post, the post I linked to was number four and the main American POW-MIA website was number five.

Supersize my paycheque!

From the LabourStart mailing list, I heard about the quixotic battle of New Zealand fast food workers in the organisation called Unite to organise a union for minimum-wage workers at McDonalds, as well as KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut and a call centre. The group has already coordinated the first ever strike at Starbucks.
McDonalds is represented in negotiations by the infamous union-busters Teasdale Associates. They successfully busted a service-workers union attempt to organise fast-food workers in the 1990s, but the government of New Zealand is likely to be more supportive of labour than was the US government at any time in the last thirty years. An attempted strategy of giving exclusive pay-rises to non-union members backfired when Unite won a legal challenge against it. See, in America they probably would have got away with that.
In related breaking news, a journalist was assaulted by a McDonalds negotiator. See the Unite website, supersizemypay.com, for more on that and other Unite issues and campaigns.

14 March 2006

Kirbe-e-e-e-e-e PUCKETT!

Another obituary and another tragically young passing - I found out that Kirby Puckett has died at the age of 45 through the City Pages online (I am a little late reading it, though and it is a week since his passing.) Kirby Puckett brings back memories of the two Twins wins in the World Series, and the first one I experienced, I think it was 1987, I attended the victory parade with my son Carey who was 8 or 9 at the time. I remember being overwhelmed by the size and energy of the crowd (and a passing wistful wish that you could get anything like that kind of crowd for a peace demonstration.) And I remember seeing tough little guy Kirby, in an open-topped limo with his team-mates, his bald pate gleaming above a plush mink coat. There is a certain kind of exuberant classless, tasteless classiness that poor boys (or girls) with hearts of gold exhibit when they hit the big time that I just love, and Kirby had that to the nines. The linked tribute describes his dynamic style of play so I won't try to top that. But he was a true Minnesota hero.

09 March 2006

Penzance, St. Ives, Mousehole, Newlyn, Land's End and Porthcurno

We are having a great time here. We are staying in a four-storey Georgian Terrace with a smashing view of the harbour of Penzance and St. Michael's Mount. It is easy walking distance from anything you want, from charming seafarer's pubs where the dog is welcome and the beer is warm and strong, to a fancy deli with great local produce, to a little cafe that serves hevva cake and pasties and crab sandwiches. The weather was great for two days, then rained for two, and is now OK (and very sunny). This morning we drove in the direction of Land's End, failed to visit the Telegraph Museum because it's closed, and happened upon a gorgeous and completely deserted beach. I have provided one picture of the beach as a taster. I have tons of pictures of varying quality. We buy fresh seafood at a fishmonger attached to the wholesale fish market in Newlyn and cook it in our pretty well-equipped kitchen; so far we have had scallops, gurnard and sea bass for dinner.
Yesterday in the rain we went to St. Ives. I got no pictures there, but I will try to find some; it's amazing, and I wouldn't want to try to drive there. We went to the Tate and I had a revelation about JMW Turner, who I had never at all appreciated before. There will be more later, both words and pictures.

01 March 2006


Is it a sign of my advancing years that this blog seems to be turning into an obituary blog? Granted, it's a good one, and the esteemed people who have passed away in the three years I have been blogging fill me with feelings of awe and respect and sometimes, inadequacy.
Linda Smith - she was five years my junior, I had enormous respect for her political mind, self-possession and acerbic wit. And I didn't even know she was ill. Died yesterday of ovarian cancer at the bright young age of 48. Life is just not fair.

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