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29 November 2006

Deborama's WWW Number 1 - McSweeney's

The very first one - a subsite of McSweeney's, a very unusually structured blog / wiki thing. This site is dedicated to interviews with people who think their jobs (in some cases previous jobs) are unusual or interesting. The one I read first, and still like best, is the one about working at a strip club with your Mom.

New feature - Deborama's WWW

I am instituting a new feature on Deborama starting today: it is called Deborama's WWW (Wednesday Website of the Week). This is partly inspired by the BBC Radio 2 feature "Miles Mendoza's Website of the Day", which, although I enjoy it, I have often thought I could do better.
If I get really energetic at this, I may post them more often than weekly, in which case they will be titled "Deborama's WMD" (Website More-or-less Daily).

27 November 2006

The timetable for withdrawal from Iraq

According to the inimitable Steve Bell. In another bygone era (the early 1970s) there was a joke about something that was not very funny. "What do you call 7500 GIs and 10000 US Marines dangling from the runner of a military helicopter?" "An orderly withdrawal from Southeast Asia." (Alternative answer : peace with honor. Honor. What a quaint word.) The same so-called joke can soon be applied to Iraq, but you might want to add "over the smoking wreckage of an overloaded British helicopter?" And they had the gall to say Iraq was no Vietnam.

The lost boys of Japan

On NPR's All Things Considered, Michele Norris talks with Michael Zielenziger, author of Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation.

Zielenziger profiles a caste of Japanese youth called hikikomori, mostly young men who lock themselves away in their bedrooms, fearful of society's expectations. He also talks about Japan's aging working class and the tendency of young women to shun motherhood.

Zombies sue police

Just another typical Minneapolis story.

Hurricanes may hardly ever happen . . .

. . . in Hampshire, according to Professor 'iggins. But what about tornadoes?

22 November 2006

Farewell to a cinematic genius

It's another month, another Deborama obituary. Maybe this is what it means to be over 50. But Altman, who passed away yesterday, was one year older than my Dad (and the Queen.) McCabe and Mrs. Miller has remained on my top-20 list of films for over 30 years.

20 November 2006

Now, she just wants to get them home . . .

I found this heart-rending NYT article about 30-year old Capt. Stephanie Bagley through Google News. It's just one of many on-the-ground reports from Iraq that paint a picture of despair and lost faith. In 2003 this blog and many journalists, historians and military experts speculated over whether Iraq would become GWB's "Vietnam". I don't believe things were ever this bad in Vietnam, not just from a specific body-count perspective (where Vietnam was much worse), but in terms of how quickly it all went wrong and how bad we will leave things when we leave. And certainly from the perspective of the morale of the soldiers, Iraq is the worst. With Vietnam, the leaders tended to question the motives behind the war after they got back home, if at all. But just to imagine a young person, in a position of command, with life-or-death responsibilities, who can find no way to believe in their mission but is impelled by duty to do it, it makes me weep. There has been a lot to make me weep in this terrible misadventure.


I have thought, more than once, that the Catholic church could use blogging software as a vehicle for confessions. There would be no need for the "it has been nine days since my last confession" declaration, because the posting dates are very good guilt-tripping devices. (But you can tell I'm not really a Catholic - for one thing I think individual confession is now obsolete, along with limbo and St. Christopher.)
There's too much going on on the personal level for me these days. It's not that there are not plenty of outrages and other noteworthy things going on in the news, it's just that it has to be really extreme before I think my contribution is needed. (And of course, it's never needed, that's just hubris speaking.) I visit MySpace every day, but not my blog. In fact I have met (not in person yet, but soon I hope) a fellow female American ex-pat who lives in a village not 5 miles from here. She is also something of an expert on pet birds, and has a flock of them herself. I finally got the device hooked up to my "newer" laptop, the one that fried, so the little memory stick port no longer works :( , so that I can upload pictures from my camera and I have put here the best of many pictures of our five budgies. Their names, in order left to right, bottom to top: Huey, Pearl, Holly, Sanjay and Hilary.

08 November 2006

Bernie Sanders - first socialist in the US Senate

They say the Senate still "hangs in the balance" due partly to the wins by two independents. But one of those is Vermont's new junior Senator Bernie Sanders, formerly its only Representative, and before that the long-time mayor of Burlington. I think we can safely assume he will vote with the Democrats a lot of the time, though.

Amy Klobuchar Wins MN Senate Seat - first woman Senator from Minnesota

Klobuchar takes over the Senate seat vacated by liberal Democrat Mark Dayton. Part of the whole balance tipping deal.

And Keith Ellison, First Muslim Elected to Congress

Like it says. And even better, he's my Congressional rep. Cool.
That's Keith in the picture up there, next to Amy.

Hola, Daniel (y Rosario)

Hasta La Vista, Baby to Donald. I find it a delicious irony that ex-Commandante Daniel Ortega, with wife Rosario Murillo as the power behind the throne, wins the presidential election in Nicaragua and the next day his old nemesis Donald Rumsfeld is forced to resign in disgrace. Nicaragua is desperately poor, with most of the population in extreme poverty. And this is all down to Rummy and his Cold Warrior chums crushing the life out of the country with years of low-level warfare and economic blockade after the Sandinistas first came to power.
There are a lot of little ironies in Nicaragua's political scene. Like Ortega's running mate, who is an ex-Contra and whose house was commandeered by Ortega years ago. (As a gesture of reconciliation, however, Ortega has since paid him compensation, but he kept the house.) Other excellent news from the US elections. Democrats now control the House. Other details to follow . . .

01 November 2006

Wolfman meets Dracula and the dangers of zombie sex

Just a little too late for Hallowe'en, I found this priceless article in City Pages, a sort of agony aunt for those in real agony - contemplating carnal relations with various species of the undead for example.
On the way home from work, we tend to listen to a particularly mindless radio show on BBC Radio 1. Today the DJ or host or whatever he is, Scott Mills, tried lamely to stir up a controversy that people, especially in Britain and especially "these days", don't "appreciate the true meaning of Hallowe'en". According to Mills, the true meaning of the holiday has something to do with devil worship, and therefore if you are going to dress up, it should be as a witch, warlock or Satan. What rubbish! This man knows absolutely nothing of his heritage, particularly given the fact that he is gay. The "Hallow" in Hallowe'en is hallowed as in holy or in this instance, saints. What has that to do with devil worship. And what has devil worship to do with witches and warlocks? And anyway, the minor Christian (not Satanic) holiday of Hallowe'en has been combined with the forbidden Celtic pagan one called Samhain. This is traditionally a time when the boundary between the mundane world and the world of faerie thins and vanishes. It is in the folk memory of the "the faerie court will ride" that people indulge in fancy dress and wild parties. To my mind, that is the true meaning of Hallowe'en.

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