Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

quote of the day

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
- Louisa May Alcott

Friday, May 06, 2005

signs of the apocalypse again

Rubella (not nutella!) making a somewhat unpredictable comeback in northern Ontario...
Avian flu seemingly becoming "better at infecting people"...
Karla Homolka being treated better than Monika Lewinsky was south of that particular border... (West of Montreal appears to be her elected new prowling territory, byt the way, when she is freed, which will be soon - I knew she would be choosing somewhere in that area...! Hide your girls... and boys... and pets too, folks!)

Ecologically wise, the planet is in such a mess, it is clear to all who care to stop and take notice that it is dying a slow and miserable death and that we are just applying some band-aids on what would require major surgery... and speaking of death...
Daily death tolls in Iraq... wars and rumors of wars... - it just doesn't stop

Any more doubts that these are not exactly great days of any sort of golden era that we are living in here...?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

the original marla


Here is an excerpt of an article from the Mother Jones Magazine-October-2003 which recounts the passing of another kind soul who died too young trying to do the right thing - trying to change a cold cruel world into a warmer, better place... I am not sure if she inspired Marla Ruzicka in any way, but she most likely did... The article can be found in its entirety of course, as per usual - in the comments section. The article - and some surprises as well...

The Death of Rachel Corrie
News: Martyr? Idiot? Dedicated? Deluded? Why did this American college student crushed by an Israeli bulldozer put her life on the line? And did it matter?

By Joshua Hammer September/October 2003 Issue
This much has never been contested: Placing herself in the path of an Israeli bulldozer that she believed was about to flatten Nasrallah's house, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death -- her skull fractured, her ribs shattered, her lungs punctured. But the bitter accusations and violent recriminations that followed obscured almost everything else about the incident. Palestinians hailed her as a martyr of the Intifada. Several eyewitnesses charged that the bulldozer operator ran her down deliberately and called her killing "a war crime." The Israeli government, which rarely acknowledges the deaths of Palestinian civilians killed during its military operations, went into damage-control mode. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush a "thorough, credible, and transparent investigation." Later Israel declared the killing a "regrettable accident" and blamed it on overzealous Corrie and the other activists working as human shields. Charges and countercharges flew back and forth until, like Rashomon, the facts of Rachel Corrie's death dissolved into a half-dozen competing versions of the truth, none of them fully convincing.

In the United States, the reaction to Corrie's death also reflected the deep divide over the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Candlelit vigils took place in her hometown; her poignant letters home were posted on the Internet along with tributes from friends and teachers; Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) called for a congressional investigation. But many others greeted Corrie's death with a distinct lack of sympathy. Americans' preoccupation with the impending war in Iraq combined with the perception that Corrie was in league with Palestinian militants dampened any sense of outrage. She was ridiculed as "roadkill" on one website and excoriated on others for burning a makeshift American flag before Gaza schoolchildren, a photo of which prompted anti-war protesters and other likely allies to distance themselves from her. A university newspaper ran a scathing cartoon depicting a woman standing in front of a bulldozer along with dictionary definitions of the word "stupidity" and one addition: "3. Sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists." Most Americans, if they thought about her at all, considered Corrie a naif who had chosen the wrong side and paid, tragically, with her life. If Corrie thought that a white, American, female college student putting her life on the line could somehow change hearts and minds, she would, in death, be little more than a news blip, convincing people of nothing more than what they already believed. What remained unclear were the precise circumstances of her death -- and why a 23-year-old woman from Olympia, Washington, would have placed her body in front of Israeli military bulldozers in the first place.

In Rafah, Corrie is cherished by a few Palestinian families who talk about her grace, humor, generosity, and, above all, bravery. Graffiti sprayed on the ruins of a house behind the ISM office pay tribute to that spirit. "To Rachel, who came to Rafah to stop the tanks," it reads. "We remember her with love and honor as an inspiration."

the comparative approach

The following could have gone to the comments section - really should have too - however, since said section is already pretty lengthy today... here it is, in its entirety too... Who said it isn't fair to compare? Sometimes, it actually is - as in this case...

"On rescuing Private Lynch and forgetting Rachel Corrie"

The Israeli army got away with murder - and now all activists are at risk

by Naomi Klein Thursday May 22, 2003 The Guardian

"Jessica Lynch and Rachel Corrie could have passed for sisters. Two all-American blondes, two destinies forever changed in a Middle East war zone. Private Jessica Lynch, the soldier, was born in Palestine, West Virginia. Rachel Corrie, the activist, died in Israeli-occupied Palestine.
Corrie was four years older than 19-year-old Lynch. Her body was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza seven days before Lynch was taken into Iraqi custody on March 23. Before she went to Iraq, Lynch organised a pen-pal programme with a local kindergarten. Before Corrie left for Gaza, she organised a pen-pal programme between kids in her hometown of Olympia, Washington, and children in Rafah.

Lynch went to Iraq as a soldier loyal to her government. Corrie went to Gaza to oppose the actions of her government. As a US citizen, she believed she had a special responsibility to defend Palestinians against US-built weapons, purchased with US aid to Israel. In letters home, she described how fresh water was being diverted from Gaza to Israeli settlements, how death was more normal than life. "This is what we pay for here," she wrote.

Unlike Lynch, Corrie did not go to Gaza to engage in combat: she went to try to thwart it. Along with her fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), she believed that the Israeli military's incursions could be slowed by the presence of highly visible "internationals". The killing of Palestinian civilians may have become commonplace, the thinking went, but Israel doesn't want the diplomatic or media scandals that would come if it killed a US student.

In a way, Corrie was harnessing the very thing that she disliked most about her country: the belief that American lives are worth more than any others - and trying to use it to save a few Palestinian homes from demolition.

Believing her fluorescent orange jacket would serve as armour, Corrie stood in front of bulldozers, slept beside wells and escorted children to school. If suicide bombers turn their bodies into weapons of death, Corrie turned hers into the opposite - a weapon of life, a "human shield".

When that Israeli bulldozer driver looked at Corrie's orange jacket and pressed the accelerator, her strategy failed. It turns out that the lives of some US citizens - even beautiful, young, white women - are valued more than others. And nothing demonstrates this more starkly than the opposing responses to Rachel Corrie and Pte Jessica Lynch.

When the Pentagon announced Lynch's successful rescue, she became a hero, complete with "America loves Jessica" fridge magnets, stickers, T-shirts, mugs, country songs and an NBC made-for-TV movie. According to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, President George Bush was "full of joy for Jessica Lynch". Her rescue, we were told, was a testament to a core American value: as West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller said to the Senate: "We take care of our people."

Do they? Corrie's death, which made the papers for two days and then virtually disappeared, has met with almost total official silence, despite the fact that eyewitnesses claim it was a deliberate act. President Bush has said nothing about a US citizen killed by a US-made bulldozer bought with US tax dollars. A US congressional resolution demanding an independent inquiry has been buried in committee, leaving the Israeli military's investigation - which cleared itself of any wrongdoing - as the only official investigation.

The ISM says that this non-response has sent a clear, and dangerous, signal. According to Olivia Jackson, a 25-year-old British citizen in Rafah: "After Rachel was killed, [the Israeli military] waited for the response from the American government and the response was pathetic. They know they can get away with it, and it has encouraged them to keep on going."

First there was Brian Avery, a 24-year-old US citizen shot in the face on April 5. Then Tom Hurndall, a British ISM activist shot in the head and left brain dead on April 11. Next was James Miller, the British cameraman shot dead while wearing a vest that said "TV". In all of these cases, eyewitnesses say the shooters were Israeli soldiers.

There is something else that Jessica Lynch and Rachel Corrie have in common: both of their stories have been distorted by the military for its own purposes. According to the official story, Lynch was captured in a bloody gun battle, mistreated by sadistic Iraqi doctors, then rescued in another storm of bullets by heroic Navy Seals. In the past weeks, another version has emerged. The doctors who treated Lynch found no evidence of battle wounds, and donated their own blood to save her life. Most embarrassing of all, witnesses have told the BBC that those daring Navy Seals already knew there were no Iraqi fighters left in the area when they stormed the hospital.

But while Lynch's story has been distorted to make its protagonists appear more heroic, Corrie's story has been posthumously twisted to make her, and her fellow ISM activists, appear sinister.

For months, the Israeli military had been looking for an excuse to get rid of the ISM "troublemakers". It found it in Asif Mohammed Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, the two British suicide bombers. It turns out that they had attended a memorial service for Corrie in Rafah, a fact the Israeli military has seized on to link the ISM to terrorism. Members of ISM point out that the event was open to the public, and that they knew nothing of the British visitors' intentions.

In the past two weeks, half a dozen ISM activists have been arrested, several deported, and the organisation's offices raided. The crackdown is spreading to all "internationals", meaning there are fewer people in the occupied territories to either witness the abuses or assist the victims. On Monday, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process told the security council that dozens of UN aid workers had been prevented from getting in and out of Gaza, calling it a violation of "Israel's international humanitarian law obligations".

On June 5 there will be a international day of action for Palestinian rights. One of the demands is for the UN to send a monitoring force into the occupied territories. Until that happens, many are determined to continue Corrie's work. More than 40 students at her former college, Evergreen State, Olympia, have signed up to go to Gaza with the ISM this summer.

So who is a hero? During the attack on Iraq, some of Corrie's friends emailed her picture to MSNBC asking that it be included on the station's "wall of heroes", along with Jessica Lynch. The network didn't comply, but Corrie is being honoured in other ways. Her family has received more than 10,000 letters of support, communities across the country have organised memorial services, and children from the occupied territories are being named Rachel. It's not a made-for-TV kind of tribute, but maybe that's for the best."

· Naomi Klein's most recent book is 'Fences and Windows'

Naomi's NoLogo approach

Guardian Tells It Like It Is

Rachel's Memorial Site
Rachel's Correspondence
Rachel's Foundation
A Tribute to Rachel

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

in memoriam

Yesterday was the day of the vigil held in her memory - a modern martyr of a new form of senseless evil, even if only a twist on an old form of it... and not perceived as evil at all by its perpetrators or supporters. Marla Ruzicka remains though, in all eyes who see the truth, a model of dedication and goodness like no other to be found nowadays.
Marla Ruzicka... December 31, 1976 - April 16, 2005

quote of the day

"To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour."
--William Blake

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

two for tuesdays ; twice the fun of having actual "work done"... *lol*

Kate Winslet given the brush - by Angela Baldassarre
British actress Kate Winslet is once again at the centre of an image riddle after photos to promote her latest movie appeared to have been artificially enhanced.
Winslet, whose figure was airbrushed on the cover of British men's magazine GQ two years ago, looks slender and taut in the promotional posters for forthcoming film “Romance and Cigarettes,” despite giving birth to her second child less than two years ago.
Image expert, Chris Bickmore told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper: "Kate has been given a real skin polish, to the extent that there is no detail. There are no lines where her foot and hand bend, no blemishes on her skin anywhere and no veins on her hand. Her legs also appears to have been made slightly slimmer, especially around the knees."
Technical wizards also claim the 29-year-old beauty, who also has a four-year-old daughter, Mia, from her first marriage, has had her breasts perfected with the help of computer wizardry.
Winslet — who once compared her post-pregnancy boobs to "the ears off a dog" — appears to have developed an impressive freestanding cleavage in the posters despite lying on her back in the photo. "I think her breasts have definitely had work done. She is quite a voluptuous woman,” Bickmore added. "They would surely sag down to the sides a bit but they appear to be too pert and upright."
A spokesman for the film's distributors, Icon Films admitted that the “Finding Neverland” star's image had been touched-up, but insisted that any work was for the sake of the film rather than vanity.
"The graphics department have had a bit of a go at the poster,” he admitted, “not really altering the image as such, but just giving it a bit more of a gritty feel."

Single six lover Bullock
(BANG) - Sandra Bullock has vowed never to get pressured into marriage - preferring six lovers instead.

*(Now THAT is a tad excessive... even by Hollywood standards?!? Surely?!? No?!? Sheesh...)*
The Hollywood beauty, who is still single at 40, refuses to bow to society's expectations and wishes people were more liberal.
She said: "Why is marriage the pinnacle for everyone? People get married for the wrong reasons.
"We need to start looking at different packages, whether it's living together or being with six partners or dedicating your life to taking care of flowers."
The outspoken star has also vowed never to get pregnant until she finds 'The One'.
Sandra - who is dating father-of-three, Discovery Channel presenter Jesse James - added: "I'll only have a child with a man I'm truly in love with."
Last month, the actress claimed she could still be a sex symbol, despite her age.
She said at the time: "I don't know why people make an issue out of it. Do they think things fall off when you turn 40? Have I had plastic surgery? No, look at me."

Sandra B can be lauded for not having any ''work done'', digitally or otherwise - but really, her advice on lifestyle matters leaves a lot to be desired...

Quote of the Day

Judgment comes from experience, and great judgment comes from bad experience.
- Robert Packwood

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Monday, May 02, 2005

cat facts... or... feline fur-flying factoids

Today's Big Cat Trivia:
How are the bodies of forest-dwelling cats, such as the jaguar and the clouded leopard, different from the bodies of savanna dwelling cats, like the cheetah and the serval?

Answer: Forest dwelling cats have short, stocky limbs that are better for climbing trees and ambushing prey. Cats that live on the savanna have long limbs that are good for speed, particularly when chasing prey.

Today's Big Cat Fact:
Sand Cats are tough little felines that can be found in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. These cats make a barking or "yodeling" noise that is sometimes mistaken for a dog bark.
(How embarrassing for a cat.) *lol*

Scaredy Cat Central *lol*

when piety misfires and overrules plain old logic...

Over the past few months, we saw (at least) two odd occurrences in courts of so-called law... Two so-called Supreme Courts... and a double-standard that is simply unexplainable.
One ruled that it was "right" to let a defenseless woman die of starvation - the other decided to let a rapist and murderer escape the death penalty... and all of that based upon the Bible?!?
How can one be so on the right path... and so WRONG at the same time?!?
How can such good intentions lead to such bad and misguided decisions...?!?
It is true that the road to hell is paved with such intentions indeed...
Shades of Jesus and Barabbas...

Death Penalty Tossed Over Bible Verses
Mar 28, 11:44 PM (ET) By STEVEN K. PAULSON
DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday threw out the death penalty in a rape-and-murder case because jurors had studied Bible verses such as "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" during deliberations.
On a 3-2 vote, justices ordered Robert Harlan to serve life in prison without parole for kidnapping 25-year-old cocktail waitress Rhonda Maloney in 1994, raping her at gunpoint for two hours and then fatally shooting her.
The jurors in Harlan's 1995 trial sentenced him to die, but defense lawyers discovered five of them had looked up Bible verses, copied them down and talked about them while deliberating a sentence behind closed doors.
The Supreme Court said "at least one juror in this case could have been influenced by these authoritative passages to vote for the death penalty when he or she may otherwise have voted for a life sentence."
Assistant District Attorney Michael Goodbee said prosecutors were reviewing the ruling and could ask the state Supreme Court to reconsider or could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
During oral arguments before the Supreme Court last month, defense attorney Kathleen Lord said the jurors had gone outside the law. "They went to the Bible to find out God's position on capital punishment," she said.
Prosecutors had argued jurors should be allowed to refer to the Bible or other religious texts during deliberations.
Gov. Bill Owens said the ruling was "demeaning to people of faith and prevents justice from being served."

Quote of the Day

Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing, and conveys much.
- Erastus Wiman

Sunday, May 01, 2005

statistics sunday II : revenge of the statistician

FACT: There have been 3 times more terrorist attacks in 2004, worldwide - over 600... as opposed to barely more than 200 in 2003.
The war on terror is NOT working apparently - of course it doesn't help that almost anyone can be a terrorist! As I was saying recently in a private conversation, that is simply so true... I always suspect grannies and babies the most...

FACT: today is O DIA DO MAIO... or MAIA if the case may be... the day of a stuffed puppet, somewhat akin to a scarecrow or a Jack O'Lantern (which, here, can be a Jackie O'Lantern quite evidently...), all this in a sort of pagan festive day that is NOT about collecting candy at all... It is "honored" in the Açores for instance... Liken it to decorating your front lawn with mock wildlife... only the MAIO and MAIA are usually seated on the front porch or on the balcony and are always human pretenders...

FACT: In the last three years, there have been an extra 1000 deaths attributed to polluted air than there had been the last time this type of survey was conducted. (Hence... three years ago!). This survey was conducted in 7 major Canadian cities (I can hear the tough guy in the heart of dixieland saying "so what? They're JUST CANADIANS CROAKING OVER over there... who cares?!?" *lol* Such nice unsightly americans... there are sightly ones with hearts of gold too, though... to be fair! ;). Overall, thus, more than 3000 deaths are inputable to the poor quality of the air in the cities of Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Calgary and Vancouver - fog city, is it? *lol* If you have asthma - and are CANADIAN (yes - this was a poke shot at the tired old phrase -quite tired now- launched by a BEER COMMERCIAL... "I AM CANADIAN". Sheesh.) - just get out of there - NOW!
No chance to go south of the border though, because...

FACT: Most average Canadians with a slight ethnic air about them AND facial hair (any amounts of...!) will be stuck at the border for a long, loooong time nowadays if they seek to go south of the border...

Don't take it personal, guys - I don't! *lol*

Finally, another FACT... jack!
Well, it is a fact that May Day, which the children do enjoy with all vibes, is not an overly prominent holiday in America. Yet, it does have a long and notable history as one of the world's principal festivals. The origin of the May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days, even before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it too has a Pagan connection.

For the Druids of the British Isles, May 1 was the second most important holiday of the year. Because, it was when the festival of Beltane held. It was thought that the day divides the year into half. The other half was to be ended with the Samhain on November 1. Those days the May Day custom was the setting of new fire. It was one of those ancient New Year rites performed throughout the world. And the fire itself was thought to lend life to the burgeoning springtime sun. Cattle were driven through the fire to purify them. Men, with their sweethearts, passed through the smoke for seeing good luck.

Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles. The beginning of May was a very popular feast time for the Romans. It was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers. It was in her honor a five day celebration, called the Floralia, was held. The five day festival would start from April 28 and end on May 2. The Romans brought in the rituals of the Floralia festival in the British Isles. And gradually the rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane. And many of today's customs on the May Day bear a stark similarity with those combined traditions.

May day observance was discouraged during the Puritans. Though, it was relived when the Puritans lost power in England, it didn't have the same robust force. Gradually, it came to be regarded more as a day of joy and merriment for the kids, rather than a day of observing the ancient fertility rights.

The tradition of Maypole and greeneries:
By the Middle Ages every English village had its Maypole. The bringing in of the Maypole from the woods was a great occasion and was accompanied by much rejoicing and merrymaking. The Maypoles were of all sizes. And one village would vie with another to show who could produce the tallest Maypole. Maypoles were usually set up for the day in small towns, but in London and the larger towns they were erected permanently.

The Maypole tradition suffered a setback for about a couple of decades since the Puritan Long Parliament stopped it in 1644. However, with the return of the Stuarts, the Maypole reappeared and the festivities of May Day were again enjoyed. One of the great Maypoles, was
The changes brought about by the Reformation included attempts to do away with practices that were obviously of pagan origin. But the Maypole, or, May tree, was not issued in practice at the behest of the second Stuart.

Although they succeeded in doing this, Maypole with most of the other traditions, many still survived. And Maypole is one of them. In France it merely changed its name. In Perigord and elsewhere, the May Tree became the "Tree of Liberty" and was the symbol of the French Revolution. Despite the new nomenclature, the peasants treated the tree in the same traditional spirit. And they would dance around it the same way as their forefathers had always done.

Maypoles and trees:
Trees have been linked to a part of celebration, perhaps, to the days ancient New Year rites. The association of trees to this celebration has come riding on the back of the spring festival in ancient Europe. Trees have always been the symbol of the great vitality and fertility of nature and were often used at the spring festivals of antiquity. The anthropologist E. O. James finds a strong relationship between the ancient tree related traditions of the British and the Romans. According to James' description, as a part of the May Day celebration, the youths in old Europe cut down a tree, lopped off the branches leaving a few at the top. They then wrapped it round with violets like the figure of the Attis, the ancient Roman god. At sunrise, they used to take it back to their villages by blowing horns and flutes. In a similar manner, the sacred pine tree representing the god Attis was carried in procession to the temple of Cybele on Rome's Palatine Hill during the Spring Festival of March 22.

Roots of May Day celebration in America:
The Puritans frowned on May Day, so the day has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States as in Great Britain. But the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as a part of the English tradition. The kids celebrating the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the the streamers, choosing of May queen, and hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of folks -- are all the leftovers of the old European traditions.

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