Monday, February 28, 2005

French cuisine doesn't get any better than this

Everything you wanted to know about snails but were too afraid to ask

For thousands of years edible snails have had a place upon the menu in various European countries, but it is France we think of when someone mentions Escargot, where snails are consumed in vast quantities. (Escargot, recipes)

However, snail culture did not originate in France, for Pliny the elder tells us that a certain Fulvius Hirpinus first instituted snail preserves at Tarquinium, a Tuscan city not far from Rome.

There, the snails were kept in enclosures and fed on grain meal and boiled wine until fat enough to eat. By a combination of careful breeding, selection, and feeding--very satisfactory results were obtained.

During the expansion of the Roman Empire snail culture was introduced into the countries that came under its control. In Switzerland and in the provinces bordering on the Danube, snail farming was still being practiced during the Middle Ages.

From Ulm, in the Swabian Alps 10,000,000 snails were sent annually down the Danube to Vienna and the Austrian convents, where they were eaten under the name of fish during the season of lent.

With the ultimate demise of the cheap water transport this market was slowly lost, but the industry still persisted through many small snail farmers until a sure market was found in France during the latter part of the eighteenth century.

The introduction of the snail as a food source in France came about in a rather haphazard manner. French wine merchants who went to Burgundy each year on buying trips had to stay at the local inns where they were frequently served snails that had been gathered from the surrounding vineyards.

To them, this was an unusual but savory dish and was commented upon by the merchants when they returned to their homes in Paris. Enough interest was gradually aroused to the point where one of the coaches that traveled between Auxerre and Paris was hired to bring the first baskets of snails to the markets of the French capital.

About 1850, the trade in Burgundy of snails was greatly increased with the advent of the railroad, for they could now be transported greater distances while still fresh. In this way new markets were developed in France, Italy, and Spain. Snail farms now exist in almost every country in the world.

So how are snails prepared and processed for the market?

In preparing snails for human consumption, they must be purged on wheat bran or corn meal; rolled oats can also be used. These products have been found to be the most effective purging agents as the high percentage of roughage contained within them will hasten the process of ridding the digestive system of any soil or other food stuffs.

The snails need to be purged for a period of three days followed by two days of starvation to completely clean out their digestive system. During the starvation stage, water, via the automated watering system, is provided on a regular basis to allow the snails to continue being active and so completes the purging process. The snails are then ready for cooking.

Snail meat is an excellent source of nutrition. The meat contains very little cholesterol or fat and its composition also includes many of the vitamins and minerals required for a healthy and well balanced diet: Magnesium, calcium, iron, Vitamin A, C, traces of zinc, copper, potassium and iodine. Snail meat also contains 9 of the essential 10 amino acids needed for the human body.

Recipes for cooking snails can be counted by the hundreds from soup to pate. Some producers overseas collect the snail’s eggs and also use them as a form of caviar. The versatility of the snail meat as a component of food for the chef to incorporate into the cooking process is only limited by the imagination and availability of the desired snail product.

How the snails are fed, prepared and cooked, can alter the above described nutritional composition. For example, the liver and the hepatopancreas contain most of the vitamins and minerals and are considered by the Europeans as the most flavorful part of the snail and so in the act of processing the snail before they are canned these organs are removed and used in other aspects of the finished product.

Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, left, and head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, sign an agreement at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran, Russia, Sign Nuclear Fuel Deal

BUSHEHR, Iran Feb 27, 2005 — Iran and Russia ignored U.S. objections and signed a nuclear fuel agreement Sunday that is key to bringing Tehran's first reactor online by mid-2006.

The long-delayed deal, signed at the heavily guarded Bushehr nuclear facility in southern Iran, dramatized President Bush's failure to persuade the Russians to curtail support for the Iranian nuclear program during his summit with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Slovakia. (ABC News)

Once again, Bush must realize that he cannot control all international agreements between nation states. The "road to peace" is fraught with many uncertainties, but certainly not hopeless, and can only be won if arrogance and the "take no prisoners" attitude are left at the door. Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh and head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, both signed the agreement, paving the way for Iran to get its first reactor up and running. The signing, which was delayed by a day, came after the two senior officials toured the $800 million complex.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

This is A Cartoon, a cartoon by Mr. Fish, published Friday, February 25, 2005.
It is part of The Cartoons of Mr. Fish: a Selection, which is part of Features, which is part of

A bit of light humor. President Bush sends Rice to
the Middle East. Rice... a grain...very symbolic.
However, rice is not the food staple of Middle East citizenry.
Think about it... Can "Rice" bring about peace in the Middle East?

Bill Gates, Microsoft

Bill Gates commits $1 billion to revamp America's high schools

Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates opened a two-day education summit in Washington D.C., by telling the nation's governors and leaders of the educational community that the nation's high schools are obsolete and need radical restructuring to raise graduation rates, prepare students for college and train a workforce that faces growing competition in the global economy.

"Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age," said Gates, whose philanthropic foundation has committed nearly a billion dollars to the challenge of improving high schools. "Until we design them to meet the needs of this century, we will keep limiting, even ruining, the lives of millions of Americans every year." (Washington Post)

Philanthropy is important to Gates. He and his wife, Melinda, have endowed a foundation with more than $27 billion (as of March 2004) to support philanthropic initiatives in the areas of global health and learning, with the hope that in the 21st century, advances in these critical areas will be available for all people. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed more than $3.2 billion to organizations working in global health; more than $2 billion to improve learning opportunities, including the Gates Library Initiative to bring computers, Internet Access and training to public libraries in low-income communities in the United States and Canada; more than $477 million to community projects in the Pacific Northwest; and more than $488 million to special projects and annual giving campaigns. (Website of Bill Gates)

Japanese butcher

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Where's the Beef? U.S. pressures Japan to lift beef ban

Japan is working towards lifting its ban on U.S beef imports to prevent relatiation from Washington. Japan stopped buying U.S beef over health concerns in December 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was found in Washington state. (Pravda)

No problem here, unless the U.S. can guarantee that the disease is well under containment and will not crop up again.

Japan's concern comes after 20 U.S senators recently threatened sanctions unless Japan buys U.S beef again. The senators from farm states have written to Japan's ambassador in the United States, urging his country to follow up on its promise to lift an import ban on American beef. (Pravda)

This is a health ban and Japan has every right to impose this measure. Japan has been an ally of the U.S. in many important foreign policy issues. Because of this the U.S. should not back Japan into a corner and think it can beat Japan with a stick if the government doesn't comply with U.S. demands.

The letter, sent Wednesday, also raised the possibility of a trade battle if Japan does not live up to its October agreement to end the ban.

"If the Japanese government fails to lift the ban expeditiously, we are afraid that the U.S. Congress may pursue equitable, retaliatory economic actions against Japan," stated the letter to Ambassador Ryozo Rato.

This is the act of a recalcitrant bully who has formidable military power. Come on! Japan has been loyal to the U.S. even under extreme pressure from the international community, especially regarding the invasion of Iraq. If one will recall, when Japanese citizens were held hostage, the Japanese government did not give in to the terrorists and kept their troops in Iraq, unlike the Philippines.

Japan is also under pressure from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who raised the issue Saturday at meetings in Washington with Japanese counterpart Nobutaka Machimura. State Department officials have said Japan understands U.S. concerns and has made a commitment to resolve the issue.

Just the name, Condi Rice, elicits a foreshadow of unfortunate things to come if Japan does not comply with U.S. pressure to lift the ban. Enough said.

Tokyo has agreed in principle to restart the multi-billion dollar trade, but is continuing technical discussions on how to test the animals for the potentially deadly disease. (ABC News)

Japan should stand on principle and not be browbeaten by the U.S. The Japanese government should ensure that its citizens are safe from any imported products that could cause a potentially deadly health hazard to its citizenry. Any government, no matter its ideology, is responsible for the safety and welfare of its people.

Before the ban, Japan was the most lucrative overseas market for U.S. beef producers, buying $1.7 billion in beef in 2003. (Seattle Post)

So, that would explain it. The U.S. coffers are stretched tightly, its astronomical budget the highest its ever been. Japan's importation of beef will alleviate some of the financial burden.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Donna McClure and friend in Bowflex commercial

Who is Donna McClure?

Donna McClure.. Now does that name ring a bell? Okay, perhaps her name isn't familiar, but the Bowflex commercial should bring a flicker of memory. She's the 50-year-old granny who looks better than most 25+-year-old women in a bikini! My grandma was a stately lady, quite fit in her day, but I never saw her in a bikini--heck, I never saw her in shorts above her knees.

Is it just me, or do you think Ms. McClure might have cheated.. you know.. lipo, tummy tuck... I know. I know... jealous, right? No doubt, I hope to look that great when I reach my golden years. Ms. McClure's testimonial can be found at her website

A quote from McClure: "And indeed: I am 50. You may think "No way" but this is the way 50 looks on me because I refuse to cave into the stereotype that Grandma's can't be vibrant, healthy and sexy! Oh, and the fitness guy next to me in the commercial, is way too old to be my son! I've definitely found that being healthy and fit does keep you younger inside and out."

umm hmm..Did you wonder about that guy? I sure did! I swear-- after watching that truly inspiring commercial, I almost bought one... almost.

Birks in retro

Hail to Birkenstocks!

Today I was told by a Superior Court marshal that my Birkenstocks should not be worn in the courtroom and to please exchange them for something appropriate. Like what? Gladiator sandles? Excuse me? *raises eyebrow* I'll wear whatever I want unless a sign is clearly posted in a public area prohibiting me from wearing certain foot attire.

Needless to say, I demanded that he pull out his SOP and show me exactly where it's written that I couldn't wear my Birks in court. Of course, he couldn't. I told Mr.he-who-thinks-he-can-intimidate-me, that until I hear it from a judge, I will continue wearing my Birks in court. Pompous men in uniform are such a turn off, aren't they?

Now, perhaps Birkenstocks may not be politically correct to wear in court, nor are they very attractive, but I enjoy feet comfort, and my feet always thank me after a long day of walking.

Is there a Birkenstock club somewhere out there? I'd love to be a member. I am the proud owner of nine pairs of Birks in various styles and colors, and all very, very comfortable. Birkenstocks have been around since 1774, when Johann Birkenstock worked as a shoemaker in a small German village. Bless his heart! Click here for Birkenstock story.

I did wear a pair to a friend's wedding once, the amused glances I received made me realize that I was the only Renaissance Woman at the entire reception.

My godmom is not amused, though, but then again, hardly anything amuses her. She always has an extra pair of shoes for me in her car, however, she has yet to win the 'war of the wills' with me on this issue. (I believe my godmom owns a pair or two, but will not willingly admit to this).

By the way, I am not a liberal, nor a hippy, preferring to align myself with the Libertarian movement. Since when were Birks stereotyped this way? Ah.. perhaps during the sixties, the peace movement, Woodstock, perhaps? Yes, I'll have to do a bit more research on this.

Take my chocolate; take my burrito Del Taco; but do not take away my Birks. And may I say, if you don't own a pair, you have very unhappy feet.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ann Coulter

I found Ann Coulter at the Salvation Army; Not her silly, her book

I'm a big spender at our local Salvation Army thrift shop. Today, I spent $2.25 on 15 books, paper and hardbound, which explains my giddy mood. One of those books just happened to be "Slander-Liberal Lies About the American Right", written by Ann Coulter.

Yes, my curiosity got the better of me, my Republican friends forever urging me to read one of her books. When I saw it, I knew the hand of God was leading me to buy it-- that it was not a coincidence, but my destiny. I found it funny though that someone would give up this book and relegate it to a thrift shop. It's practically new! I'm ecstatic!

Well, I've begun reading the book and as a whole, when read in its proper context, it makes a strong argument in a quirky kinda way-- her premise that all political ills can be blamed on liberals. But taken out of context, wow... It's pretty funny. For example, Ms. Coulter made this corollary regarding liberals' perception of conservatives:

"It is important for liberals to demean the people they oppose to reinforce their sense of class superiority. Anyone can associate himself with the elite by adopting the left's snooty superiority and laughing at Republicans for being dumb hicks. Adopting the prejudices of the powerful interests is a way of saying you are with the "in" crowd. You are with the cool Hollywood types who hang out with Gwyneth Paltrow, Sean Penn, and David Geffen-not the working-class hillbillies who go to NASCAR races."

*blinks..... laughing uproariously* Thank you Ms. Coulter for making my day! I can't wait to finish this book!

Ms. Coulter is a daring writer, a writer with vision, a writer who omnisciently intuits these thougths and shares it with her cult-like readers.

I highly recommend this book. If you're having trouble finding it in your local bookstore, try the Salvation Army- you might just find a copy.

GovGuam hopes to homeport a U.S. carrier

Military build-up on Guam good for the economy

The U.S. military is stepping up its presence on our tiny island, including Congressional funding of $70 million in construction projects at Navy and Air Force bases on Guam. Of that, $23.8 million is earmarked for the Navy's waterfront construction projects, according to Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo.

And there's more...for years, Guam has tried to secure the economic benefit of hosting an aircraft carrier. It seems like this may become a reality.

Rear Adm. Arthur Johnson Jr., commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, said a decision whether to bring an aircraft carrier and more attack submarines to the island will be made by the end of this year.

"The definitive word will be made back in (Washington, D.C.), not necessarily what the Big Navy here on Guam sees and what we think is necessary, but it's a process where the Department of Defense, the Congress and the president will hold a debate and make a decision. And we will know by the end of the year," he said.

If Guam becomes the home port for an aircraft carrier strike group, it may bring an annual windfall of about $423 million to Guam, according to Pacific Daily News files.

Also, the Navy is conducting an internal study in which nine to 11 attack submarines may be based on Guam, to add to the three already assigned here, according to PDN files.

The possibility of Guam being the home port for an aircraft carrier would bring between 5,000 and 7,000 sailors to the island.

Island residents have noticed the increase of military presence on the island. Many speculate that this might be due to the North Korean threat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dream of inverted thought; helplessness and despair
realms of illusion; inside my head; who will save me?

Cyber counseling?

Cybercounseling? Why not? We have a plethora of cyber-fill in the blank....cyber dating; distance education; tele-medicine; tele-conferencing; chatting; and my personal favorite.. blogging in cyberspace.

I'm sure the same laws and ethics apply to those who offer these services via the internet, but always remember, caveat emptor-- let the buyer beware. Check out this website that offers cybercounseling.

The American Psychotherapy Association, although not against cybercounseling, has some concerns regarding laws, but more so, ethics.
Cyber-therapy is a fast growing phenomenon in the field of psychotherapy. Internet sites are being established on a routine basis, most offering some form of therapy on a fee for service basis. Proponents of this method of delivering mental health services hold that the internet is a viable way to provide a range of psychotherapy services. However, opponents of e-therapy hold that too many legal and ethical issues make this particular practice unfathomable.

Many of the psychotherapeutic governing bodies have developed ethical guidelines to assist cyber-therapists in the practice of e-therapy. However, there are several problematic issues that confound the practice of cyber-counseling. This article reviews the current state of cyber-psychotherapy and the issues that psychotherapists need to be aware of as this method of delivering services continues to expand. (APS) Read more here: APA

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

What the troops have to say. Listen

Listen to the Troops

Leave your ego at the door, for just a while,
Humble your heart and read what is here

Forget the "red" state, the "blue" state,
whatever state you're in
And Listen to the Troops

It became real when they deployed to Iraq
In combat, they don't care who comes from
a "red" or "blue" state

Some came home and found nothing
No food, no money, no home
In Iraq, she cried at night, afraid for her life
Listen to the Troops

PFC Nicole Goodwin, New York, New York:
Nicole is one of the first Iraq war veterans to face homelessness.
Months after her return from Iraq, Nicole and her baby daughter
spent their nights in buses and shelters.

Listen to Nicole:

Freedom is good

Freedom is great

Freedom ain't free

Someone else always pays

I sleep at night knowing this to be true But let it be known better
them than me I'll forget about your cause, I'll forget about your God,
I'll forget about your flag So I will sleep well tonight
So why should I care who slaps on a green monkey suit?

I sleep at night because I remember better them than me.

Stop the bickering and senseless sarcasm
for the American flag represents all
No distinction between "red" and "blue"
They will tell you, it's RED, WHITE and BLUE
Listen to the Troops

Cpt. David Whitehorn, Eau Claire, WI
David served as a medic in Iraq, caring for both
wounded U.S. soldiers and Iraqi insurgents.

Listen to David:

I want to share something hard that I endured as a nurse.
I didn't experience combat or mortaring but I am deeply
grateful for my comrades who do.
Instead as a medic, I dealt with taking care of Iraqis that we had shot.
I took care of an Iraqi that was shot as he jumped on an Army convoy.

It is very hard being a critical care nurse that was taught to save life at all cost,
when your patient is someone the military has shot.
I had to curb my anger and rage to provide the best care that I could.
This is something that nobody has talked about in the
numerous news stories and blogs,
but it is shared by all military medics
and taught to us in Law of Armed Conflict class.

Thank you to all of you Army and Marine "grunts" who are in the
trenches of war every day.
I feel guilty that I didn't do what you did, and that I didn't share
your experience of direct combat.
I can never repay you. I hope I never see you, my injured comrade,
but if I do, rest assured when you get to me, you will be taken care of
by the best medics in the world!!!

There are sides drawn, and that's okay
But don't put a color on a solider-he doesn't care--
he, she, they, are fighting your fight
Listen to the Troops

Sgt. Kris Owen, Parker, CO
Kris was deployed to Iraq as a heavy equipment operator based in Tikrit.

Listen to Kris:

"Soldiers don't put their lives on the line for war.
They put their lives on the line for the guy next to them, for their families,
for the ideals of the country.
I hope history sees that we truly brought freedom to a country.
I hope history doesn't see it that we occupied a land for our own interest."

Show them the respect and gratitude they deserve
For in leaving their safe beds and standing to fight
They've lost a bit of their souls
We can never repay them, but we can
tell them that we all stand united as Americans
We won't force them to choose "red" or "blue"
Listen to the Troops

Sgt. John Quincy Adams was on patrol in Ramadi August 29, 2003
when a remote controlled bomb exploded under his humvee
sending shrapnel into his head and body leaving him brain damaged.
John is from North Miami, Florida.

Listen to John:

There is not that much I can do now because if I do it and I fall,
and I hit my head, it will cause for it to move my brain
and the metal I have back here will move.
My head doesn't let me work, plus my arm.

I was doing landscaping and lawn service in North Miami with my father-in-law.
I loved it. Now I like being with the kids and my wife.
I try to be with them always. I take them both with me and my
wife to the Veterans Hospital.

I was happy Sadaam was caught because my guys will come back soon.

The war they fight is on a different plane of thinking
than yours and mine
"red" and "blue", just a political parody
Our soldiers didn't think up;
didn't start the division
Listen to the Troops

1st Lt. USMC Andrew Borene, Edina, MN
Andrew was an intelligence officer with the 1st Marine Division,
I Marine Expeditionary Force from Oct. 2002 - Aug. 2004.
He served in Iraq during major combat operations from Feb. to May, 2004.

Listen to Andrew:

Young heroes display physical courage out on the front lines
in the Global War on Terror, yet even as our troops accomplish
mission after harrowing mission, our politicians are failing them.
The White House blamed the troops for explosives lost at
Al Qaqaa due to troop shortages.
The Pentagon blamed the Marines for a failed attack on Fallujah in April 2004.
These failing were political decisions, not tactical decisions.

Young men and women are fighting for us as I write,
but who is fighting for them?
If every concerned American wrote the republican members of congress
who put tax cuts for the wealthy before troop welfare,
demanding that our veterans and soldiers be given their due,
perhaps we could make some headway on honoring
America's contract with its veterans.

God Bless America. God Bless our Troops.
May our political leaders show their thanks
and take responsibility for their decisions by
taking care of those who protect us all.

When they struggle to re-define who they are
after serving as a soldier in war,
they're not going to say "red" or "blue"
Listen to the Troops

This letter, written by a soldier in Iraq:

Dear friends and family members -

I need your help here in Iraq. ..

For those of you not aware, the US military is not the only US organization
that is functioning over here in Iraq. A large US contractor
called KBR (Kellog, Brown, and Root), a daughter company of Halliburton...,
is operating on every US base in Iraq.
KBR manages many of the solider services that we have here on the base...

Now I know you are asking yourself what in the world this has to do with you.

Let me explain... KBR is now requesting, and the army is allowing,
US soldiers to ride "shot gun" in KBR convoys hauling KBR goods all over Iraq.
KBR is afraid to be out on the roads alone and want our US soldiers to risk their lives
riding shot gun for their missions. ..
Now there is no doubt that we need
to protect KBR's missions but we have suggested and to date
have been denied the opportunity to run the convoys
with properly modified and equipped military vehicles...

Here is where you come in.

Out of a desire to honor the oath we took upon entering
the army we do not want to disobey a direct order if and when the order
comes for us to ride with KBR. We do however want to make
all the lawmakers and politicians aware of the danger
we are being unnecessarily exposed to on these missions.

Our hope is that each of our friends and loved ones back home will take
a few minutes and send out emails to any local, state, and US congressman
and senators and demand that they require the US military to stop
this practice of allowing US troops in KBR vehicles.

Please help.

Thank you for your time and help...
Please keep myself and my wife
and my sons in your hearts and in your prayers.

So America, get your act together
and in spirit, stand with them as they
fight our battle,

For once, quiet your mind,
forget "red" and "blue"
And Listen to the Troops

New look for AIDS ribbon

AIDS ribbon gets facelift

The internationally recognised AIDS ribbon is getting a makeover for an HIV and AIDS awareness campaign targeted at the youth. The 'Red for Life' program - an initiative by Levi Strauss South Africa is aimed at raising HIV and AIDS awareness among South Africa's youth.

This is pretty cool. Hopefully, it will help educate the young generation of South Africa. Where can I get one?

Monday, February 21, 2005

AIDS List Accidentally E-Mailed To 800 People

In Florida, 4,500 Palm Beach County residents with AIDS and 2,000 who are HIV-positive, are concerned after a computer glitch e-mailed a confidential list of their names and addresses to over 800 health workers in the Palm Beach area.

AIDS has not garnered much press in the past few years, but it's still a major contributing factor of deaths in the U.S. and around the world and still a very sensitive subject.

This mistake may lead to class action suits.

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson, dead at 67

Hunter S. Thompson who generated a cult-like following, shot himself in the head in Woody Creek, Colorado, Feb. 20.

A journalist and author, his book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" inspired a movie, and delivered the concept of the "New Journalism" a movement of the 1960s, in which writers took a more novelistic and personal approach to their subjects. (CNN)

His account of a drug-fueled trip to cover a district attorneys' anti-drug conference as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine was the seed of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," perhaps his best-known work. (CNN)

This man had it all, but apparently, it wasn't enough. I believe that there will be a book out on him soon; a pseudo-biographical-psychological book that will make an attempt to analyze him.

Attributes of woman

A call to all writers of poetry and prose

Note: Calling all poets. Rolling Thunder has a new poetry contest. A photo theme is given. If you'd like to submit a poem, please click here: Rolling Thunder... If you're having trouble linking, please scroll down my site to my blogroll-- you'll find Rolling Thunder there as well. I believe the last day for submission is March 20th, winners to be announced on the 23rd.

Also, if you love writing poetry and prose, or just curious, check out the Blog Poetry Club, an inspirational site for poets and non-poets alike. Very supportive and intelligent members who post insightful poetry for a world that desperately needs hope, faith, and healing. Sign up and become a member. You will not be sorry.

Here is my submission to Rolling Thunder's poetry contest.
If you see the photo at Rolling Thunder, you will understand.

The Woman of the Ages

You look at me and think you know who I am
You see only the obvious
You put on this mask for you are not ready to know
For in the knowing you will understand
And with the understanding, you will weep

My nakedness,
a symbol of earth and mother
I am woman
The strong one who runs wild
who keeps order in your chaotic world

I am mother, whore, virgin and hero
I created you and the earth shook amidst my pain
The heavens validate my existence

I revel in your world of concrete jungle
My stiletto heels march forth
Ready to fight the masses but
Just as ready to teach
what you do not know
things that you do not understand

I have the power to destroy and to rebuild
My powers I take seriously
But I will not demean you

Be at peace and know that I am here to love you
And in the loving
You will know me
And I will give you my gift
I will clothe myself in your cloth if you so desire

Never take me for granted,
a folly that has brought sorrow and heartache since millenia

Cherish me for I am strong, yet fragile
Give me your respect and trust
And I will lead you to all that is hidden,
a revealing that will astonish you

I am the naked virgin in your dreams
The mother of your children
The whore in your bed
I am woman for all the ages

Embrace me

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton
make brief stop over on Guam

Bush, Clinton make brief stop on Guam, tsunami relief efforts underway

It's great to see two presidents from opposite sides of the political spectrum come together for a worthy cause. It is possible to transcend party politics.

GUAM-Two former U.S. presidents touched down on Guam early yesterday morning for a brief refueling stop and a security briefing at Andersen Air Force Base.

With a cool breeze and the sun just beginning to rise, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush stepped off a 757 jet to the clicking of dozens of cameras.

Dozens of local, national and military media, including CBS, were awake at the crack of dawn to catch a glimpse of Clinton and Bush. However, no media opportunity for interviews was provided.

Relaxed and comfortable in a pair of blue jeans and Nike tennis shoes, Clinton casually strolled down the stairs, hands tucked in his pockets -- with the exception of the occasional hand wave to the anxiously awaiting press below.

Looking tired yet casually presidential from the long flight from Hawaii, Bush Sr. smiled and waved for the cameras before hurrying into the one of the vehicles in a motorcade of security, military dignitaries and Gov. Felix Camacho.

This was Clinton's second visit to Guam. Clinton first visited Guam in November 1998 and spoke to a crowd of an estimated 25,000 local residents during his four-hour trip.

Back then, Clinton discussed bills that extended federal and food aid to residents of the freely associated states, and also announced America's Coral Reef Task Force, which included then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez.

The two former presidents were on their way to Banda Aceh to attend the official turning over of relief efforts to the United Nations after almost two months of military command.

The two former presidents took on the responsibility of heading up American relief efforts for the tsunami and earthquake stricken region of Southeast Asia, at the request of the current President George W. Bush, shortly after the disasters claimed the lives of more than 160,000.

Together, Bush Sr. and Clinton took the helm of the relief effort process and encouraged the American public to make donations to assist in the region's recovery.

The Associated Press reports Clinton and Bush arrived in Indonesia and visited a Thai fishing village as they began their tour to promote reconstruction efforts. It is the first trip to the region by both men since current President Bush asked them to head up relief efforts.

"We hope to learn some more about what else we could" to help relief efforts, Clinton told several hundred people in Ban Nam Khem village, according to The Associated Press.

Natalie J. Quinata, Pacific Daily News

ritual of consciousness

My passage, my rite, my world

I feel small today
A small person

In a BIG world

I huddle in my little corner of consciousness
Still and silent-
a non-entity in a voidless world

I shroud myself in darkness
Rays of light desire to
penetrate my existence

Microbe probes invade my mind
I fight to diminish
my awareness of them

Breathe deeply and slowly
Let the mantra of
om nemaha shiva ya om
be my reality

Ring the bell for I will begin
hekas hekas estey bebaloi
I am the Middle Pillar

I now close the rite for
the temple is duly closed
so mote it be

Fist of wrath

The fist of destiny

Archetypes of mass hysteria
Loom large in the collective consciousness
Of souls in self-righteous insecurity

The wrong does make a right
The weak do not inherit the earth
The end does justify the means

Cultures collide and seek a reason to war
It's all about the blame game
All about the might

It's not about humanity
and the good of all to live
on one earthly planet
that rebels against its inhabitants

And our children's social psyche
will believe the hype of politicos
and schools will spew forth its rhetoric
to enlighten a new generation

But one day,
the fist of heaven
will pound its might through the air
and quarry the righteous to dust

Its massive, lethal stroke will crack,
its thunder so intense
the universe will bow

And no more will mankind allow itself
to destroy with impunity and salivate after hatred
among the masses left who survived

the fist of destiny

American Dream analyzed

Americans' and the American Dream

This interesting article was written in August, 2004. Does this article still hold true today?

by Jeremy Rifkin

In a partisan America, where virtually every value has become fair game for criticism and controversy, there is one value that remains sacrosanct: the American Dream -- the idea that anyone, regardless of the circumstances to which they're born, can make of their lives as they choose, by dint of diligence, determination and hard work. The American Dream unites Americans across ethnic and class divides and gives shared purpose and direction to the American way of life.

The problem is, one-third of all Americans, according to a recent U.S. national survey, no longer believe in the American Dream. Some have lost faith because they worked hard all their lives only to find hardship and despair at the end of the line. Others question the very dream itself, arguing that its underlying tenets have become less relevant in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. For the first time, the American Dream no longer serves as the rallying point for everyone in America.

A new European Dream, meanwhile, is beginning to capture the world's imagination. That dream has now been codified in the form of a draft European constitution, and Europeans are currently debating whether to ratify its contents and accept its underlying values as the core values of a new Europe. Europe's vision of the future may have greater resonance -- a kind of grand reversal, if you will, of what occurred 200 years ago when millions of Europeans looked to America in search of a new vision.

Twenty-five nations, representing 455 million people, have joined together to create a "United States" of Europe. Like the United States of America, this vast political entity has its own empowering myth. Although still in its adolescence, the European Dream is the first transnational vision, one far better suited to the next stage in the human journey. Europeans are beginning to adopt a new global consciousness that extends beyond, and below, the borders of their nation-states, deeply embedding them in an increasingly interconnected world.

Americans are used to thinking of their country as the most successful on Earth. That's no longer the case: The European Union has grown to become the third-largest governing institution in the world. Though its land mass is half the size of the continental United States, its $10.5-trillion (U.S.) gross domestic product now eclipses the U.S. GDP, making it the world's largest economy. The EU is already the world's leading exporter and largest internal trading market. Sixty-one of the 140 biggest companies on the Global Fortune 500 rankings are European; only 50 are U.S. companies.

For full story, click here: American Dream

bear in straitjacket

Saturday, February 19, 2005


Vermont Teddy Bear Co. will withdraw Straitjacketed “Crazy For You” Bear. The company will also recall shackled “Detained For You” Bear, leashed “Tortured For You” Bear, and beheaded “Lost My Head For You” Bear. This is heartening to know as it targets persons with emotional/mental disabilities.

Friday, February 18, 2005

It was for freedom, for democracy, or so they told us. Grim and inhumane when countless innocent children die. Just as inhumane as Hussein. Those innocents who died, were they just collateral damage? If this photo offends you, it should, for we talk and talk and talk, but until we really see, it's just a war (except for the soldiers fighting, dying), far away from us.

War helps recruit terrorists; insurgents growing

In attempts to understand why a free election in Iraq has not diminished the war, this story helps to put things in perspective. As expected, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld does not support the reports and says the number of insurgents cannot be closely tracked. No matter what the bureaucratic babble, the war continues and attacks have become deadlier and more frequent.

By Dana Priest and Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writers

02/17/05 "Washington Post" -- The insurgency in Iraq continues to baffle the U.S. military and intelligence communities, and the U.S. occupation has become a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, top U.S. national security officials told Congress yesterday.

"Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists," CIA Director Porter J. Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

"These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism," he said. "They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries."

On a day when the top half-dozen U.S. national security and intelligence officials went to Capitol Hill to talk about the continued determination of terrorists to strike the United States, their statements underscored the unintended consequences of the war in Iraq.

"The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists," Goss said in his first public testimony since taking over the CIA. Goss said Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist who has joined al Qaeda since the U.S. invasion, "hopes to establish a safe haven in Iraq" from which he could operate against Western nations and moderate Muslim governments.

"Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate panel. "Overwhelming majorities in Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia believe the U.S. has a negative policy toward the Arab world."

Jacoby said the Iraq insurgency has grown "in size and complexity over the past year" and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up from 25 last year. Attacks on Iraq's election day last month reached 300, he said, double the previous one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked down.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

STILL A TARGET: File photo of British writer Salman Rushdie at a hotel in Calcutta on December 8, 2004. Rushdie still faces the “divine verdict” of execution ordered by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Fatwa valid- Rushdie still faces execution

You've gotta wonder. Does Rushdie worry about this? After all, he did a cameo in the hugely successful movie, "Bridget Jones's Diary", and is a top-rated literary critic in New York, pretty much living the American dream, far away from Iran.

TEHRAN -- British novelist Salman Rushdie still faces the "divine verdict" of execution, a hardline Iranian daily said on Sunday in a special issue marking the 16th anniversary of the death sentence ordered by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

"A divine verdict does not lose its value with time," the daily said in the eight-page supplement marking Monday's anniversary of the fatwa, or religious decree, which disrupted Iran's relations with the European Union through the 1990s.

The paper carried a cartoon depicting the author of "The Satanic Verses" as Satan.

It highlighted comments made by Khomenei's successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last month that he still believed Rushdie deserved to die.

"They talk of respect for all religions but they support an apostate worthy of death like Rushdie," Khamenei complained in a message to Iranian pilgrims on January 19.

The daily's diatribe echoed a statement from Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards on Saturday.

"Muslims have never accepted insults against their sacred values," the guards said. "The day will come when they will punish the apostate Rushdie for his scandalous acts and insults against the Koran and the Prophet [Mohammed]."

Under reformist President Mohammad Khatami, who was elected in 1997, Iran's leadership distanced itself from the order to kill Rushdie, born in Bombay, India, to a Muslim family.

In 1998 foreign minister Kamal Kharazi promised his then-British counterpart Robin Cook that Iran would do nothing to implement the fatwa, despite a $2.8 million bounty placed on Rushdie's head by a Tehran-based foundation.

The pledge eased nearly a decade of torn relations with the European Union but sparked a chorus of protest from hardliners.

On last year's anniversary, the 15th of Khordad Foundation - the charitable trust that offered the original bounty - issued a statement saying that the fatwa remained valid.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I am a blogger of many races, of many faces

No racial discrimination here in blogland

After reading an article by William Wong about journalism and ethnic labeling, I started thinking, does it matter what kind of racial and ethnic background a writer has in the blogosphere? Given the tumultuous history of the United States and issues of race, today, people of divergent ethnicities have generally come to accept and respect each other.

Mr. Wong has suggested that a relevancy test should be employed in journalism. The question should be asked, "Is it relevant ...that we label someone by race, ethnicity, gender, religion? If it is, then get it right. Don't leave off some of a person's heritage." I would employ this same concept in the world of blogging.

When I visit blog sites, unless a blogger shares their ethnicity, I have no idea what their race or ethnic background is, nor am I looking for it. If they share, fine. If they don't, well, that's fine too. I perceive that bloggers enjoy a feeling of camaraderie across the blogging hemisphere which only strengthens its existence.

Whether race has any bearing on their political or personal make-up which manifests in their posts is pure conjecture and until someone does a scientific case study, I'll withhold my hypotheses. Besides, it doesn't seem important today and probably won't have any relevance later.

"Generalizations about racial or ethnic characteristics, as well as vague height and weight features, are virtually useless and can feed negative stereotypes of certain people," says Wong.

I like the fact that I can post articles and still remain anonymous, for it is not important that bloggers know what I look like or what race I claim, but rather, that my words are what validate my presence in blogland. It's part of the attraction I have with blogging. It's not because I want to create an atmosphere of mystery, this is just how I would prefer it. I especially like the fact that race is not an issue in blogland. Mutual tolerance and respect seem to be unspoken rules, which to some extent includes political blogs too.

Perhaps one day, someone other than myself will believe that the blogosphere transcends racial backgrounds and concentrates on the words of the individual. Racial discrimination has no place in the blogosphere. (Nor do celebrities, thank the universe, unless you're into American Idol or Survivor.)

William Wong is author of Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America (Temple University Press), For more than 30 years, he was a reporter, columnist, and editor for, among others, The Wall Street Journal, The Oakland Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, and Asian Week. In the mid-1980s, he served as the ombudsman for The Oakland Tribune.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Former Prime Minister Hariri

U.S. must not be so quick to point finger at Syria

In the aftermath of a deadly bomb in Beirut that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 16 others, the United States recalled its ambassador to Damascus and is now demanding that Syria's 15,000+ troops pull out of Lebanon and stop its alleged support of terrorism.

In addition, Condoleeza Rice, U.S. Secretary of State, has implied that the United States may impose further sanctions against Syria. Last year, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions against Syria for its failure to adhere to September's UN resolution. Syrian officials have denied any involvement in the incident and have turned the spot light on Israel, whom they say, stands to gain politically with the death of Hariri.

Granted, all media sources are being used to push each country's claim of non-involvement and although U.S. media is quick to scorn less legitimate sources, every report should be taken into account for its accuracy so that decisions leading up to any action against Syria must be as accurate as possible.

Where will this latest attempt for a power struggle lead us? How heavily will the United States play its hand? Having to deal with Iraq and recently, Iran, will it have the fortitude to deal with Syria in a hostile manner? Additionally, the U.S. must have a growing concern of reports that Russia is selling missles to Syria.

According to CNN, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday Syria was "unfortunately on a path right now where relations are not improving, but are worsening".

Rice did not blame Syria for Monday's bomb attack that killed Hariri and 16 others, but she did challenge Syria's longstanding claim that its troops were needed in Lebanon to provide security.

"There is no doubt that the conditions created by Syria's presence there have created a destabilized situation in Lebanon," she said.

Syria's Ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, was quick to return the verbal blows.

"If anyone is trying to politically score some points against Syria, I would say ... this would be shameful," he told CNN.

"It should be very clear to everyone that if anybody is insinuating about a Syrian role in the criminal atrocity that happened in Beirut, I think they are lacking logic," he said.

In a thinly-veiled jab at Washington, he said accusations that Syria is supporting terrorism are akin to the claims, later disproved, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction in the lead-up to the war.

"Syria does not support terrorism. We have said this time and again," he said.

When asked about possible additional sanctions on Syria, Rice said, "we will continue to consider what other options are at our disposal".

It is a known fact that the UN resolution passed last September made it clear "that foreign troops need to be withdrawn from Lebanon," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said at a briefing.

"Syria's continued presence in Lebanon is a destabilizing force in the region and a destabilizing force in Lebanon. Syria's continued support for terrorism is a problem, it is a concern that we have expressed directly to the government of Syria," he said.


By Al Jazeera

- - While the opposition to the pro-Syrian government in Beirut claimed that Syria was behind the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri, the Syrian media on Tuesday pointed the finger of suspicion at Israel.

"What happened was an attempt to shatter national unity in Lebanon, to sow anarchy and divisions which lead to a climate of civil war," said government newspaper Tishrin.

Israel "continues to work to sabotage Lebanon's achievements to try to bring anarchy to the country and to be able to continue its occupation of the Shebaa Farms", a disputed strip of land along the Israeli border, the newspaper added.

Meanwhile, several Arab analysts say that Syria itself was also targeted by Hariri's assassination.

"Syria certainly did not need to complicate the situation, just when it is already in the firing line" over UN Resolution 1559, Rauf Ghoneim, a former Egyptian deputy foreign minister, said.

According to several political analysts, Al Hariri’s assassination is aimed at drowning Lebanon in another civil war. Arab commentators called on Lebanon on Tuesday to unite against such threat, with some suggesting that Israel has greatly benefited from the death of Al Hariri.

On the other hand, the Arab League called on the Lebanese people not to jump to conclusions about the assassination.

Al-Gomhuria daily, Egypt's state-owned said the assassination aimed to "subvert the interests of the Lebanese people, undermine their solidarity and shake their will".

"Lebanese people should throw their ethnic and religious differences behind them and strive for unity," it said.

Other analysts suggested that Al Hariri’s death was a part of a bigger plan aimed at fueling tension and spreading chaos in the region already shaken by Iraq war, where some fear a sectarian civil war similar to that which tore Lebanon apart from 1975 to 1990.

"There is a conspiracy to spread anarchy in the region," said Essam el-Erian, a leading member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Although the former Lebanese Prime Minister had recently joined calls for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, Arab commentators insisted his death did not benefit Syria.

"For sure, it is not in Syria's interest for Lebanon to be rocked by such a massive security breach. After all Syria is responsible for Lebanon's security," the leading Saudi newspaper al-Watan said in an editorial.

Meanwhile, Iran said Israel is the only state that has the resources to carry out such attack. According to initial reports, the bomb which killed Hariri had the explosive power of 300 kg of dynamite.

"An organised terrorist entity like that of the Zionist regime has the capability to carry out such operations and it targets breaking unity and solidarity in Lebanon," a state-owned Iranian newspaper quoted the foreign ministry as saying.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Black Widows

Something you need to get off your chest?

Need to let out a secret that’s been haunting you for years—a private torment or personal shame? Shhhh...There's a site on the internet you should visit. It's All posts are anonymous because each submittal does not require a name, allowing anyone to submit their writings/drawings on simple postcards, if they prefer. The only hitch is you need to send it via snailmail. The instructions are simple and can be found on the website. was created two months ago as an art project, but has since evolved as a “Dear Abby”-esque post sans Abby. Created by artist Frank Warren of Germantown, Maryland, he launched the project by passing out postcards soliciting secrets at art shows.

Here are just some examples of a few submissions:

"I want to have sex with my therapist," said one, accompanied by a drawing of a couple on the psychiatrist's couch.

"I say I'm a vegetarian. But I eat meat on the sly!" said a third, with a sketch of a steak and steak knife as evidence.

Many of the confessions are indeed very private and graphic, and come with artful drawings and collages.

One contributor admitted: "When I was young, I drilled a hole in my closet wall and peed in it because I was mad at my parents. The closet smelled for years. I blamed our cat."

Another, mailed from Australia, confided that she was still a virgin but dared not tell her friends.

While the above examples seem sincere and apologetic in their admission, others were quite proud of their secrets:

"I really enjoy funerals," read one, with a heart penned on it.

"I made love at Artomatic," said another, referring to a Washington art festival.

One card had a torn-out newspaper television schedule with a picture of TV personality Paris Hilton. Inscribed next to it was: "While others pray at church I bow my head and think about the TV programs I plan on watching."

And there are those secrets that are deeply serious, forcing Warren to weigh publishing them on the Website. Two nameless correspondents confessed to having possibly incited friends to kill themselves.

One recalled both having been molested as a child and of later molesting his own brother.

For these anonymous entries, it is apparent that their senders carry heavy burdens that can never be erased from their lives.

Thought-provoking, sometimes amusing, sometimes gritty, visit and check it out. You may find yourself wanting to share a secret or two.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A car burning in the streets of Beirut after a huge bomb explosion, Monday

Huge Explosion rocks Beirut, PM Rafik al-Hariri killed

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri has been killed in an apparent large-scale bomb attack on his motorcade in Beirut, a bodyguard and officials at the American University of Beirut hospital told CNN.

Reports coming in say that it was an apparent assasination on Hariri's life. Hariri was a strong and legitimate leader who brought Beirut out of an economic downfall, leading the re-construction of Beirut, as well as stopping Syrian politicians' from using Lebanese politicians in their homeland. Hariri was known as the leader who put Lebanon back on the map in the international arena, bringing confidence back to a war-torn Beirut. According to sources, Hariri's death brings economic and political uncertainty in Lebanon, as well as the fear of another civil war with Syria.

Monday's explosion occurred before a backdrop of increasing political tension ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for May.

Lebanon's pro-Syrian government, which counts on its neighbor for security, has come under fire from the anti-Syrian opposition, which says Lebanon can take care of its own security.

Syria maintains about 16,000 troops in Lebanon, based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley, according to the CIA. The Arab League approved that troop deployment under the Ta'if Accord at the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

After Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the opposition began to demand that Syria withdraw as well. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last October calling on Syria to withdraw.

The 15-year civil war mostly pitted Lebanon's ruling conservative Christians against leftist Muslims, with Syria, Israel and Western international forces -- including U.S. Marines -- occasionally taking part.

Speculation is widespread, some top officials from the Arab League stating that it was a terrorist attack in the form of a car bomb, although as of this writing, this has not been confirmed.

For full story, click here: Beirut Explosion

Happy Valentines/Birthday Darling. I love you

Care to try?

Rubik's Cube re-invented

That vexing cube- Remember the cube that Hungarian Erno Rubik invented nearly 30 years ago? Then there were only three blocks per side. Now we have the five-block Professor's Cube. Before, the possible combinations were only 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Wow.

However, with this one, the possibilities are so astronomical we can't calculate them. If you need a bit of brain exercise and don't get frustrated easily, this is the ultimate puzzle. Sold in stores in Japan, some stores in the U.S. carry the puzzle. If you're interested in this puzzle and happen to purchase one, here is a site that gives you step-by-step instructions to solve the Professor's Cube.
Solving the Professor's Cube

Iraqis polled; which country to model their government?

The election is over. The results are in. A recent poll taken asked Iraqis which government they would like the new government to emulate: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United States, or the United Arab Emirates? It is interesting that the younger generation chose the U.S., as older citizens chose the U.A.E. or Iran. It has been said that younger generations favor Western practices while older generations cling to the old regime. Either way and in spite of continued fighting, a new Iraq is emerging.

By Zogby
Just over a week before the historic Iraqi election of January 30, 2005, an Abu Dhabi TV / Zombie International poll asked 805 Iraqi adults about their inclinations. The results are an invaluable barometer of Iraqi sentiment as the country moves into the next historic, no doubt tumultuous phase in its modern history.

By a large margin, Iraqis would most like to see their country emulate the United Arab Emirates in forming its new government (37%). This choice is followed by a diverse crew of runners-up: Iran (16%), the United States (14%), Syria (7%), and Saudi Arabia (5%). One out of five respondents (20%) are not sure, or don’t have a model in mind.

Once again, differences between age groups are striking. Among young people (18-24), one out of three (33%) would like to see Iraq emulate the U.S., with 30% favoring the U.A.E. and 16% preferring Iran. Warm feelings toward the U.S. drop sharply as age rises, with affection for Syria and the Emirates surging in Iraqis over 70.

Shias are the only religious group with a strong interest in Iranian-style theocracy (29%); otherwise they are partial to the UAE (34%) or are not sure (19%). Sunni Arabs lean heavily toward the UAE (50%), followed by predominantly Sunni Syria (19%). Iraq's Kurds are best-disposed toward the U.S., with fully 58% preferring an American-style government in Iraq.

Copyright: Zombie International

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Addiction to blog

BA- Bloggers Anonymous? I need help

I'm convinced that hours of being chained to my seat at stolen hours of the morning and afternoon and all hours of the evening into the early morning hours, clicking on numbers, colors, birds, hearts, hamburgers, elephants, smiley faces, and other matching items on BlogExplosion, BlogClicker, and Blogazoo, has led to severe muscle aches, eye strain and carpal tunnel. My mind is not complaining, my body is. And seriously, before I go to bed, I see the "Congratulations- You're a Winner!" flashing in my mind's eye, and before I know it, I'm up again, booting up my computer and driving traffic to my blogsite... Stop!

I am not in denial. I admit it--I am addicted to BE, BC and Blogazoo, and when I joined these traffic exchanges, I promised myself I would moderate my time, but alas, this is not the case.

Are there any of you out there who shares my addiction? I've spoken to a friend who is a psychologist and she is not happy with me. This would explain her refusal to create a blog for herself. "Get a life!", she says. Gee... but I do have a life...

Do you suppose there is a case study on bloggers on the myriad problems (mental, physical, psychological, and whatever else yet un-identified problem(s)) we suffer because of our addiction? I wouldn't be surprised to find one soon. Am I the only one going through this?

I must say again, that I have "met" many different people through their blog site and I've certainly learned a lot from many, although some just leave me confused.

It has been said that blogging may have evolved from chat rooms. If this is the case, one can logically speculate that bloggers were also chat junkies at one time and have progressed to a higher developed venue of communication, or so I would hope.

I find myself guiltily neglecting my boyfriend, although he will deny it, but I do feel terrible that I don't spend as much time as I should with him... why? because of my addiction. Is there a pill I can take?
How about, BA (Bloggers Anonymous) and a modified version of the 12-step program.. just a thought.. just a thought.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Deadly King

Cobras Spit Venom at Eyes, Perfect Aim

Note: During a trip to Bangkok, my friends and I visited a snake farm, a favorite tourist attraction in Thailand. The cobras, in particular fascinated me. There were at least 20 in a ring of wire mesh and the proprietor was deliberately provoking them for our viewing pleasure. Although thrilling, it was rather senseless and risky. The king of snakes, the King Cobras are the most magnificent and one of the deadliest snakes in the world.

Hillary Mayell
for National Geographic News

If you're smart, you'll never come within six feet (two meters) of a spitting cobra. If you're unlucky and by some horrible chance you do, a word of advice: Close your eyes.

Katja Tzschätzsch, a research student at the University of Bonn in Germany, has demonstrated that the red Mozambique spitting cobra and the black-necked spitting cobra deliberately aim for the eyes of whomever or whatever they feel threatened by.

The lab results don't surprise snake experts.

"To my knowledge there hasn't been a lot of work done on whether they actually aim for the eyes. It's mostly been anecdotal evidence," said Bill Altimari, a herpetologist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. "But I'd be surprised if anyone in the field thinks otherwise. My experience has been that the red spitter and the black-neck went right for your eyes. Our keepers at the Philadelphia Zoo [where I used to work] always wore face masks."

Sam Lee, assistant supervisor in the Bronx Zoo's department of herpetology, concurs, again based on personal experience.

"These animals always aim for keepers' goggles," he said.

"Anyone at the zoo working with this type of snake wears a face mask because that's usually where they aim," added Dino Ferri, assistant curator for reptiles and amphibians at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.

If everyone knows spitting cobras aim for the eyes, why ask the question?

"It was necessary to actually show this in order to ask the next question: How do cobras identify the eyes in different animals and humans?" said Guido Westhoff, the professor at the University of Bonn who supervised Tzschätzsch's work.

The Experiment

Katja Tzschätzsch used four red Mozambique and six black-necked spitting cobras. In her experiments she either stood face-to-face with them—protected by a plastic visor—or she used photos.

She recorded the spitting process using a high-speed video camera. "The snakes really do spit only at moving faces," was her first finding. "Movements involving the hand elicited no response from any of the snakes."

Only two cobras reacted to photos of faces.

The evaluation of the traces of venom on the photos and the visor revealed how accurate the both species' aim is: The black-necked spitting cobras hit at least one eye eight out of ten times. The Mozambique cobras hit their target every time.

What happens if a cobra's venom lands in your eye? The cocktail of toxins consists of nerve poisons and other components harmful to tissue. The sensitive cornea reacts with severe stinging pain. In the worst case these burns can lead to blindness.

The lesson is clear: If ever you're confronted by a spitting cobra (common in Africa and Asia) stand back at least 10 feet (3 meters) and protect your eyes.

To read the full story, click here,

Blogcritics up and running after 5 hours downtime is up and running again after five hours of total "meltdown". If you are not a member, please visit this site where discriminating writers from around the world meet to discuss members' posts on various topics including politics, culture, video, books and music. You may click on my link- just scroll down til you find it,or click here,, and it'll take you there.

By its own statement, is "A sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, technology, and politics". Careful editing is highly encouraged before one posts, which makes us all better writers. Please visit, and if it is to your liking, sign up to become a member.

Friday, February 11, 2005

lament of a mother for her child

mourning mother's tears

today on tv, I saw
a mother holding her child
her mournful gaze captured for all
to see,
she didn't cry, just gazed and gazed
she held him tighter, her pain too private
for prying eyes of the camera
and then she sang, her native song
her song of love and sorrow,
she arose slowly, her baby in her arms
a stooped and weary woman,
and carried him home to grieve his death
her home in shambles but not her care
a wet clean cloth she took and washed
away the filth and blood he carried
her whispered words of lament
her tears flow freely now
the eye of the camera not there to see
her pain and love inter-mingled
and so, dear world, as the children die
they are just numbers to us,
but to a mother, a child's life is lost forever
the name of her loved one a figment of
dreams, preserved in her heart
an open wound of memories that quietly
flutter through a veiled curtain of love

Dedicated to all children around the world
who have died a tragic death, LVX

It's all about the oil

Iran more likely target than N. Korea

The United States has focused its attention to Iran, citing that country's nuclear program. With strong protest and clearer threats, Condoleeza Rice is paving the way for President George Bush, who will make a strong argument why the U.S. must intervene in Iran. But yet, President Bush and Rice are downplaying the potentially high-risk crisis in North Korea. Why? International strategists infer that Bush is not overly concerned with Iran's nuclear program, but rather, the fact that Iran will soon become a major financial force in the international oil market.

A recent article reads, "The Iranians are about to commit an "offense" far greater than Saddam Hussein's conversion to the euro of Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Numerous articles have revealed Pentagon planning for operations against Iran as early as 2005. While the publicly stated reasons will be over Iran's nuclear ambitions, there are unspoken macroeconomic drivers explaining the Real Reasons regarding the 2nd stage of petrodollar warfare - Iran's upcoming euro-based oil Bourse.

In 2005-2006, the Tehran government has developed a plan to begin competing with New York's NYMEX and London's IPE with respect to international oil trades - using a euro-denominated international oil-trading mechanism. This means that without some form of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project for U.S. global domination, Tehran's objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on U.S. dollar supremacy in the international oil market.

Click here for full story:

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Russia, China partner up

Russia, China- superpower alliance

Note: The world is changing. Old alliances will end; new alliances built up. All nations have a stake; how they play the international game will determine the future of all nation-states. Perhaps this is the beginning of the birth of a new superpower. It would be hoped that the United States is paying attention and is in the process of preparing for international diplomatic contingencies.

Babu Ghanta, Special Correspondent-

Russia and China announce strategic partnership in a bid to counter expanding Western military and fiscal influences.

Tang Jiaxuan, a member of China's State Council, said Russia and China have similar positions on regional and global issues. Tang said Moscow is Beijing's key ally in its effort to maintain a strategic partnership.

Sources say, Russia and China have formally joined hands to stop expanding American and European military as well as economic global influences.

The strategic partnership can be very significant in providing a combined counter effect to the only Super Power of the world –America.The partnership between China and Russia actually started last year just after the start of the Iraq war.

The two countries came close to each other in terms of supporting each other. Russia now provides significant amount of China’s energy needs. China now provides financial guarantee and loan to Russia without announcing the same explicitly.

Russian and Chinese military are having secret joint sessions to create the strategy of self defense in case of any invasion from other countries.

In the front of fight against terrorism, Russia and China has also formed an alliance. China and Russia both are concerned about Islamic militants in Chechnya as well Chinese Muslim areas in South West China.

China's creation of a mechanism to consult with Russia on security issues marks the first time China has ever entered into such a venture, a senior Chinese official visiting the Kremlin said.

China secretly loaned Russia US Dollar 6.0 Billion to nationalize the Yukos oil company.

International think tanks suggest that soon Russia-China strategic partnership will form a NATO type military and G7 type economic alliance. India and Brazil will be invited to join the alliance.

Stigma- the suffering of Christ

Stigmata, just a religious experience?

Stigmata- bodily marks or pains resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ and sometimes accompanying religious ecstasy appeared for the first time on the hands of the founder of the Franciscan order, St. Francis. This and other mysterious phenomena have always intrigued me.

"In Christian mysticism, bodily marks, scars, or pains suffered in places corresponding to those of the crucified Jesus-on the hands and feet, near the heart, and sometimes on the head (from the crown of thorns) or shoulders and back (from carrying the cross and being whipped)," Encyclopedia Britannica says.

The phenomenon of stigmata is still considered a religious enigma. The phenomenon appeared long ago. At the end of the 19th century doctors examined Louise Lato - bleeding wounds appeared on her hands during religious holidays for no particular reason. Doctors put a sealed band on one of the girl's hands prior to a religious holiday. The band was removed on Good Friday - members of the Belgian Academy of Sciences saw bleeding ulcers on the girl's hand.

Teresa Neiman (deceased in 1962) was kept under medical supervision for a very long time. Teresa was suffering from Christ's Wounds too: blood would start flowing spontaneously, causing terrible pain to the woman. Wounds would then heal up in a week without scarring. Furthermore, the woman was suffering from bloody tears and bloody sweat.

As it is known from the history of religion, stigmata appeared for the first time on the hands of the founder of the Franciscan order, St. Francis (1182-1226). Over 300 cases have been described since then. What is interesting is that religion is not the only ground that causes stigmata to appear. Writers may suffer from them at times too, when they become too much preoccupied with their own characters.

Charles Dickens wrote, for instance, that his face had swollen when he was working on the story "The Chimes."

Soviet writer Maxim Gorky fainted, when he was writing a scene, in which a jealous husband stabs his wife in the liver. A bleeding wound soon appeared on Maxim Gorky's body, in the area of his liver.

Mysterious bodily wounds may appear, if relatives endure too much of their relatives' sufferings. A sister witnessed her brother being whipped - her back was then covered with bleeding scars reminiscent of her brother's. The fact was officially documented. Doctor Faivishevsky described similar occurrences with women, who were forced to witness their children being beaten.

Stigmatization as a result of nightmares has also been described in medical literature. A medical college student attended the autopsy procedure for the first time in her life. The next day she said she had had a very bad dream, in which the dead man was choking her and grabbing her hands, trying to drag her away. When she woke up, she found her neck and wrists bruised.

Doctor Kolbin described a child, who had lost his hair after a nightmare. The little boy had a dream, in which his grandfather rose from the casket and grabbed the boy's hair. The child had the nightmare several nights in a row, losing more and more of his hair.

Some experts believe stigmata appear due to brain activities, such as imagination. A religious fanatic may suffer from Christ's Wounds, if he or she thinks too much about the crucified Jesus.

Writers may suffer from this bodily ailment if they share the suffering and pain of their own literature characters. Hmm.. I don’t think I’d like to test this theory. Too painful.