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26 August 2007

Is Athens Burning?

I have been following this story about wildfires in Greece. It is becoming very serious. There are real fears that along with property and lives that are being lost each day, the fires are threatening to destroy ancient sites of great importance. Fires are raging in half the country and the fire services are not even close to equipped to cope with the scale of the disaster.

24 August 2007

Grace Paley dies at age 84

Grace Paley died Wednesday at the age of 84; she had breast cancer. Obituaries of note at NPR, the NY Times, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Guardian. There were lots of nice recent pictures of her in the various articles I read, but I just loved this picture of a much younger Paley from 1959.
I first became really aware of Grace Paley (although I had heard of her, and may have read some of her stories in my teens, a voracious reading period for me) through an independent film released in 1983 and based on her stories, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. And Paley was more than just a great writer; she was also a peace activist and a central figure in her community in her New York days, and in her later years she lived in Vermont and continued in political activism right into old age.

Minnesota too polite to ask for federal funding

From the Onion, of course:

"Oh, we wouldn't want to bother the U.S. government—they've got more than
enough on their plate as it is," Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. "Most of the
potholes on I-90 are less than four feet wide. We get by just fine."

22 August 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 34 - Get Your War On, by David Rees

This week's WWW is a scathing political comic strip called "Get Your War On." If you don't know it, you should. If you don't like it, why not? Here is some background, if you want it.

16 August 2007

An encounter with "socialized medicine"

Jim Wallis on his blog God's Politics tells this very funny true story of his encounter with the dreaded NHS. And even ultra-liberal Jim (shall I tell them I'm a friend of the Prime Minister, nah) has some silly stereotypes shattered.

Deborama's WWW Number 33 - London Under - water?

My new m.o. for Wednesday Website of the Week is to start on Friday and work my backwards. So this one is only one day late, a 100% improvement on last week! This week's WWW is not a site exactly but a theme, a film coming out in a little over a week which is a fictional tale of London in a disastrous flood.
In 1984 the Thames estuary southeast of London inaugurated a system of flood defence in the form of the massive Thames Barrier. It is the second largest flood barrier in the world, exceeded in size only by one in the Netherlands called the Oosterscheldekering. The film concerns a tsunami surging up the estuary and breaching the barrier (a scenario that the experts say is extremely unlikely but hey if it makes a good movie . . . )
It is a little uncanny that as this film was being made, floods of a fairly disastrous type were hitting Britain in real life, even if there was no tsunami involved and London was barely affected. Meanwhile, monsoon floods have claimed hundreds of lives in south Asia. And if it's not water, it's fire: I just saw the most appalling footage on the TV news of a towering inferno sweeping through suburban Athens (Greece, not GA) propelled by gale force winds.

10 August 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 32 - two days late and not all that serious

The Shaggy Blog story, something to do with Edinburgh Fringe I think. Published in installments (it is a shaggy dog story, just like a blog) on the Guardian Unlimited website. This is Chapter One, by Josie Long, and this is Chapter Two, by Marcus Brigstocke. You can find the subsequent installments on your own, as they are in the future.

Blogkeeping and my life - a visit, a website and a resolution

Yes, yes, I missed Wednesday again. Now for the excuses. First, my life was disrupted a bit, but in a good way, by the visit last week of my sister, her husband and her son. It's a complicated tale so I won't go all into it, but I took some time off work, I wore myself to a frazzle and I had a good time. It is quite painful to me being thousands of miles from my family, so these brief visits are far more idealized and - well - enjoyable than family visits are to normal people who at least live on the same continent as the rest of their kin. Or so I believe, based on my memories of when I was a normal person. But my sister is partly responsible for excuse number two as well. I took her to my new gym, where I have been struggling to attain a goal of three times a week. She suggested that I would probably not see much fitness change unless I went for five times a week, which makes a bit of sense to me, so I now am on a resolution to strive for that. My job keeps me away from home about 11 hours a day, and then there is still all the little tasks involved in keeping me, the husband and the house up and running - hygiene, laundry, shopping, filling and emptying the dishwasher, doing at least a minimal share of the cooking. There are newspapers and blogs to read, parrots to talk to. Basically what I am saying is that I am running out of time in the day. Anyway, on to excuse number three. Which has two parts. Part 3A - my sister and I were talking about memories and stories, and how she is trying to get our parents to write down some as keepsakes for the future, for our kids. And we had this brilliant idea to set up a website for the family and post short articles of our various memories and stories. A meetup group I am involved with (another big time sucker, if you let it be, as I just spent four hours last night going to a meetup and had to ditch the gym!) has recently moved from our paid sponsor site to a free site called me.com. Now this website is not perfect; its interfaces and applications are chaotic and sometimes unpredictable, and I think it has ideas above its station, if you know what I mean. But it's free, and I mostly find these things are what you choose to make them (and are capable of making them.) So I am spending a bit of my precious "free" time administering this site. Excuse 3B is Facebook. I never planned to get addicted to it, but it is very seductive. Anyway, I am doing something else as the WWW, just after this (although you will see it before this, due to the magic of blogging.) Amongst the many worthy things I meant to blog, and didn't and quite possibly won't, are-

  • the bridge collapse in my hometown of Minneapolis, which I have been following obsessively
  • the foot and mouth outbreak, and especially a very affecting and poignant piece from a PTSD suffering slaughterman, which I now cannot find a link for
  • the latest developments in my chosen focus areas of world news and politics: Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Nicaragua and the US presidential race
  • the trapped coal miners in America
  • the monsoon floods in South Asia

01 August 2007

Deborama's WWW Number 31 - Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown having had his coming out party in America now (oh, is that not what it's called? sorry), American readers of Deborama may now be wondering what to make of the man. I really don't think you could have gleaned much from those ghastly photo-op "press conferences". So here is the official version, from the UK gov site for Number 10 and here is an even more official site, from Wikipedia. For those who want to delve a little deeper, there is this excellent article in Prospect magazine. And for those who just want to take the piss, there is Steve Bell (see picture).

Family vacation

I have not blogged much because, even though I am at home. I have been on holiday since Thursday. I am going back tomorrow. DH and I have been hosting the visit of my middle sister, Cindy, her husband Shephard and their son, Tyler. We went to London yesterday on the coach for a whirlwind tour. While they were here, Cindy and I had this brilliant idea to set up a family website (participatory, not just a showcase) which I then did, using a free software called me.com. I am pretty tired now, but it's been fun.

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