Monday, November 24, 2003

IRAQ NOW ...... A Soldier Looks Right Back at the Media.
Now this is interesting . . .
It doesn't change my opinions, really, but it's always interesting to get the view from the inside. There is a common misconception, bred from the Viet Nam era that "peaceniks" (note the soviet-sounding prefix) don't care about soldiers or their problems because they're the juggernauts mowing down fields of "enemy" babies and mothers.
Not true, of course. Not true about the soldiers being juggernauts, not true about the dissenters being ambivalent, apathetic idiots who prefer to sing of the despair of the enemy than the efforts of the deployed.
I don't see the soldiers as people who wish evil to the Iraqis- I believe many of them joined either to save some money on tuition or honestly felt the president was doing the right thing. This does not make them bloodthirsty or hellbent. They are just kids and young adults who aren't as fortunate as I was to get some scholarships or who believe in America's ability to save the world.
So when I read their stories, I do feel for them. I do know that I'll never know what it is like, that there's no way to understand the horror they must face. I understand that I have the luxury of trying to work out the whys and wherefores of the situation- why we're there, why we haven't pulled out, why Bush Senior didn't take this all the way a decade ago- from a cube in middle America, while they have to try and work through their questions amidst mortar fire and palpable terror.
I do support our troops. Which is why I want them to come home. I want this kid- this poor kid named Jason (a generational name, my generation . . . not too many Jasons in the same age group as the congressmen who sent him over there) to come back so he can blog away from someplace safe. He's a smart kid, he's got good ideas, he could be dead tomorrow. Or today . . . his last post is from this morning. How can people honestly say they support kids like him (with plastic signs and bumper stickers from their friendly local Wal-Mart) . . . and at the same time advocate his deployment?

He has a degree in Literature. Like me. I hope he keeps writing.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Al Jazeera is looking for newsroom journalists to operate out of their Doha, Qatar offices.

What an experience that would be.

Qatar is in the UAE, as I understand it. Doha is a cosmopolitan city on the horseshoe-shaped pennisula of Qatar, extending into the bay. It is warm (very warm) and humid (95%). Crime is low. 95 percent of people are Muslim.

They are also proponents of many strong domestic policies meant to eliminate terrorism. Pragmatic things like anti-money-laundering initiatives.

There was one murder in Qatar in 2000.

So much for the idea of the chaotic bloodhungry Arab. Qatar is a low-crime, peaceful, and relatively prosperous country (due to the nearly 850 thousand barrels of oil they produce every day). They are moving away from an oligarchical rule (the Emir) and toward more democratic modes of government. They are doing this without bombs, without jihad.

I suppose what you are wondering is well, what's the point?

My point: primarily Islamic countries with oligarchical rulers are not the root of all evil. They are not even the root of all terrorism. Despite what we see on TV, there are countless Arabs who live comfortably, even democratically, who are working to find further outlets and possibilities of democracy. Without. Our. Help.

Sadaam is (was? who knows . . .) a rare beast. Palestine/Israel is a rare situation, with roots in Western intervention. It is important to keep in mind that there are exceptions to every stereotype . . . and that more often than not, the stereotypes are the exceptions to the rule. Not all Arabs are trained to kill Jews. Not all Arabs prefer extremist Islamic rule to democratic practices. Not all Arabs are poor and illiterate, or, on the other end, extravagantly wealthy on oil money and don't care about their poor illiterate brethren unless they start looting their gaudy villas. These are the stereotypes upon which this war was begun. That the out-of-control religious fanatics were going to push the button . . . perhaps for no other reason that a flash of righteous will. That an unstable nation with such an "out-there and WRONG" (to quote Kent Brockman) take on faith would present an "iminent threat" to us.

Those of us who blindly follow Bush's plan like to say that those of us who were against the war sided with Sadaam. Besides this being a clearly false sylligism, it is an oversimplification. We may have sided with the people of Iraq . . . but that doesn't mean everyone. Oh, you say, you side with the people of Iraq despite their oppression? You want peace over the deposition of an evil leader?

A million times, no. There had to be a better way. Qatar is an example of a country that needed no violent means to move toward democracy. Granted, they did not have Ba'athists in charge, no Sadaam to speak of . . . but I can't help but wonder why we couldn't have helped Iraq where they needed help (and when they needed help-- in all honesty, 10 years ago would have been nice) and then left the nation-building up to them?

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Okay, I'll get off my high horse now.
Where did that expression ever come from? I've been violently thrown off a horse before, but I don't think he had been using narcotics. And if you get on a horse who's been doobin I think you deserve what you get.

This is going to be a loooooooong day. I have been taking on more work, but everytime I start something, Kyle comes up and tells me I don't need to work on it, that it's an exception and I need to send it to salesman x for development . . . So my numbers look good, but I don't have any work. Blogtime!

This is probably going to be one of those that will float around all day, sitting in a window behind my Lotus workspace (yay Lotus!), so bear with the randomness . . .

Made the apartment deposit on Tuesday. Will sign the lease on Saturday. Saturday morning. Then I can start moving . . . but I will probably wait until after Thanksgiving. Stuff I don't need now- Kitchen stuff, stuff that's in the garage, waiting for a real home . . . I know I'm a homebody at heart when I'm excited about unpacking my dishes.

We are going BEYOND Bed&Bath this weekend to get some essentials- shower curtain, bath mat, etc. Things that only people like me get excited about. Well, me and the Fab Five . . . whose new episode premiered Tuesday. I liked how they were helping a straight guy with a family . . . and the family totally accepted and enjoyed them. I don't understand how some gay groups can speak out against that. They are not being Uncle Tommed or anything- they are the ambassadors to the straight world. They are the guys you let your teenage daughter go to the mall with. They are the guys who will teach you how to live better, not necessarily at a higher cost. We could all learn a lot from the Fab Five.

Anyway, I should get back to . . . that stuff I do that I get paid to do . . .

Until next time.

There are unfortunate consequences to good economic strategy . . .

But I do not wish to place myself in the same camp as white kids with dreadlocks and "F**k the WTO!" t-Shirts. Ick. In their camp, you'd probably be at high risk for skin parasites and oversimplification.

Simple truth: There are lots of good ideas out there. But they rarely get carried out by good people, or in good ways. For instance, Free Trade is a good idea. It, theoretically, should put everyone on the same level and increase productivity while lowering prices for everyone. But it seems that these initiatives are not backed by the type of Marxist Utopians you might think. Instead, they are backed by those sleazy, let's breed a fish with a strawberry and see what we get types at Novartis, Monsanto and ADM. And they know full well that they can get more out of high-polluting factories in Mexico, China and India than they'll ever get out of US factories, with their damned EPA regulations. The philosophy behind Free Trade at this point is not "More for Everyone." It is now "More for Us."

Additionally, for small family farmers with sustainable agricultural practices, the learning curve to compete with such megacorps (if there is a light at the end of that tunnel, I doubt most of the backers of these initiatives will help them find it) is so steep that it could bankrupt entire rural populations . . . not only in developing countries, but within the States as well. The North-South economic gap is just a small example of what could happen if Free Trade of the Americas were to get through. While those of us lucky enough to not live in the rural south, we get all the goods they, and the agricorps can produce.

Unfortunately, as those farmers down South have to produce less volume for the same selling price, even using the same pesticides, herbicides, and in all likelihood, GM seeds, they can't compete with the sheer volume produced by the huge corporations. And if they go under, all the better for Monsanto who can purchase their land and add further to their profits . . .

Good economics, in the long run. But at what cost to our cultures, our world right now?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The Onion | Mom Finds Out About Blog
Too funny. My parents already know about this (he he) so there will be no "drinking, drug use, casual sex, and other behavior likely to alarm [my] mother."
Although it would really take a lot to alarm my mother. Like I'd have to embrace Jesus in a really freaky way and start hanging around with Buchananites and advocating concealed weapons laws.
Or maybe, in a similar but more enthusiastic twist, I'd have to start worshipping the man-goat and hanging around with Marilyn Manson . . . no, wait, she'd want to meet him.
I learned at an early age that rebellion was futile. My parents had so done that with their parents, and they knew every trick in the book. This is not a bad thing. They also told me about every trick in the book- which is why I never tried anything. They were a step ahead of me. I guess when I have kids, I'll have no way to pull that trick- so I'll have Grandma and Grampa call their bluffs.
So I'm looking at this duplex a block behind where my parents live (yeah, weird for some people, but ideal for me) because I can look at a little more square footage now that I'm sticking to plan A. It's two bedrooms, which might be a little big, with hardwood floors, fully remodeled kitchen, big yard (downside . . . yardwork) and it was built in 1949. I am worried that it may be too much house for me, but the price is right and I loooove hardwood floors.
There were no pictures of the bathroom on the web though. I will need to have a look around. If there are puppy tiles in the bathroom or pink formica, (well, mauvy 80s formica, not cool boomerang 50s formica) that's probably a dealbreaker.
Damn. It's rented.
So says the lady on the phone. Maybe I sounded like someone who would hang out with Marilyn Manson.

So, back to square one. Not too sure what to do now . . . the tiny little basement victorian is still a player, but I'm not sure I want to be that cramped.

We'll see. In the meantime, I have work to do. Gotta pay the rent . . . one of these days . . .

Monday, November 10, 2003

I received a note today from my former editor . . . she is saying that the position at the paper has been filled. I'm almost convinced that it actually has been . . . but it could just as easily be that I was too audacious in asking for more money, or that there were two different hyphenation methods in my cover letter and my resume . . . but at any rate, I truly believe that all things happen for a reason and I'll just have to pick up where I left off, so to speak.
As Coldplay says, everything's not lost. My manager assures me I'll be writing by the end of the year, I have ordered business cards, and it is looking like this is a "contract, temporary" position in name only.
What this means? Well, further soul searching for one. Higher-end apartment hunting for another. The pushing-ahead of more difficult issues as my salary scales up but the salaries of magazine and newspaper editors remain woefully behind.
But technically, I am still entry-level. There's still a lot to learn, and when opportunities come up, I still have the flexibility to take my life in another direction. Things happen for a reason. And although those reasons are rarely clear, it is often the case that one can look back and pick them out of the nebulous mass of choices, mistakes, and other experiences that make up a life.
And also, Leopard will give me 3 weeks vacation in my first year. Not too bad . . .
Until next time.