Saturday, November 25, 2006

not the best sporting weekend so far

piglet in sydney harbour
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
alas, qpr just went down 0-1 at home to coventry, and piglet has a better chance of succeeding in australia than the england cricketers.

all of this seems strangely far away as i sit in an office in a small wisconsin town. it is rather warm here, although they threaten snow on thursday. everything in this neighbourhood is quite charming - the sun shines on myriad protestant churches built of light-coloured stones, and there are no people of colour or anybody who may be poor to be seen on these streets. actually there are no people on the streets at all at the moment, probably because they are all circling the mall trying to find parking places.

piglet will visit chicago for a few days next week, where he hopes to discover the truth about mrs o'leary's cow, and pursue his interest in sumo wrestling.

Monday, November 20, 2006

not a candidate for 'thought for the day'

from my commonplace book:

by Dorothy Parker

There's little in taking or giving,
There's little in water or wine;
This living, this living, this living
Was never a project of mine.
Oh, hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the one at the top,
For art is a form of carharsis
And love is a permanent flop,
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest's for a clam in a shell,
So I'm thinking of throwing the battle -
Would you kindly direct me to Hell?

the pic for which i was waiting

ray jones scores vs cardiff
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
here is a shot of ray jones actually scoring that winning goal against cardiff on friday. hear me chortle.

hush my inner critic!

i am so behind the target number of words for the na na nee nee writing competition. i have decided i can no longer claim to be writing a novel, but perhaps what is left may become a novella. here is another tiny excerpt, describing the streetcar ride to the old jewish cemetery in berlin.

"The cemetery was way out on the eastern side of the city. Rafi took the train to Haeckische Markt, and then went to find the tram stop. She punched her ticket again on her way in, just to make sure, and found a seat. Although it was the end of October, the weather was unseasonably warm. However, the person in charge of the heating system for the carriage had not taken this fact into account, and hot air blasted from a vent beside Rafi’s right knee. Another passenger leaned over her to open a window, and caught her eye. They smiled, and Rafi reached for her purple bandana. To take her mind off her discomfort, she looked out of the window. It was not long before the construction sites and modern superstructures of the centre of Berlin gave way to the East that she remembered. The buildings were old and pockmarked. People always said the holes were made by Russian bullets back in 1945, and maybe some of them were. Rafi felt a general air of apathy, and thought that many of the houses were just crumbling from neglect. The tram passed a small green area, and at its centre was a giant bust of Lenin, gazing unsmilingly at the passers-by. People on the street were wearing drab colours, and seemed to lack the forward drive that propelled pedestrians on the streets of London or New York. Many of the shops along the way had posters announcing bargains for that week, and most of the shops were either video stores or shoe shops. There were no Starbucks, no Macdonalds, no Dunkin Donuts to be seen. In the early 1980’s, Rafi had spent a couple of days in East Berlin. A memory of that visit suddenly came to mind. It was about a piece of chocolate that she had bought there. As she walked down Unter den Linden, admiring the Prussian architecture that reminded her of her grandfather, she began to eat the chocolate. It tasted like sawdust, and she spat it out. The next day, she found some of it still in her pocket, and tried it again. It didn’t taste so bad this time. She supposed that if it was all there was, one could get used to it after a while. The people on the street looked as if sawdust-flavoured chocolate would be a big treat for them.

Rafi pulled the cord and waited for the streetcar to stop. She stepped down onto the pavement and crossed onto the shady side of the main street. She turned left into Herbert-Baum Strasse, and began to walk up the hill. The road was lined by two rows of tall trees, and when Rafi looked at the leaves on the ground to see if she might identify the type of trees they were, she was delighted to find the ground covered with conkers. She picked a few, and continued up the slope, examining each chestnut to see if it had the pattern and shininess that gave her pleasure. She cast the losers back to the pavement, and pocketed the rest."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

cardiff 0-1 qpr

this happened on friday, but i was waiting hopefully for a lovely picture of relevance to become available. cannot wait any longer so here is a picture of friday's scorer, ray jones, celebrating a previous goal.

i cannot tell you too often how amazing it is that a simple thing like my team winning can do more for my mood than all the lexapro in the world. the problem is, of course, apart from the fact that such an occasion is rarer than a hen's tooth and thus cannot be relied upon, that the weekend concludes and monday morning brings it all back. :-(

tresco blues

there's been a lot of talk in england over the last few days about the cricketer marcus trescothick and his departure from the ashes series because of depression. mike brearley (former england captain) wrote today:

"I used to think that cricket, by its nature, schools its players to deal with problems of loss. Symbolic deaths occur almost every time you bat. Getting out means leaving the arena altogether, and being hors de combat for hours or days. I assumed that such repeated experience might be a source of strength for a cricketer, enabling him to mourn, cope with, and make the best of the loss of a loved profession on retirement. Sport enlists, in a usually healthy way, some of the aggression needed for the inevitable strivings of life, including competition. I imagined that sport enabled its practitioners to exercise aggression in a safe enough setting, and to have less need to turn it against themselves in the form of depression.

Perhaps my view was too positive. Perhaps cricket does little to help one cope with other more substantial losses in life. Like other challenges, for those who can cope, it strengthens, while for others it may simply be too much."

of course it's not just cricketers, although there is a new book out (i forget the name, sorry) that claims that as many as 150 cricketers have committed suicide over the last few years. and it's not just famous people. or other people. how many friends do you have who deal with depression? maybe a better question is: how many people do you know who take anti-depressants? it's not hard for me to think of quite a few almost immediately. a naive question is: why do we all have to be so stressed out these days?

there may be a bit of a clue in what brearley says. we need healthy ways to deal with failure. it is a part of life, though, rather than death. it is a chance to learn and motivation to develop. in our culture, however, failure is so feared that many of us are paralysed even before we have a go at something.

Friday, November 17, 2006

i name this child gandalf tiger beckham ravaj

there i was thinking it was awful having the same name as the greatest-selling laundry detergent in europe and south america. and it was a boy's name when i was a girl. at least my parents weren't bob geldof & paula yates (r.i.p.). from the times today:

"What did you call your children?
By Alan Hamilton

AS IF Peaches Honeyblossom, Pixie Frou-Frou and Fifi Trixibelle were not enough of a cross to bear, Britain now numbers among its youth 6 Gandalfs, 39 Gazzas, 2 Supermen and 36 Arsenals of both sexes. Children, it appears, are in growing danger from their parents of name abuse. Among the worst reported cases are Dre, Tupac, Jay-Z and Snoop. These unfortunates, when they grow up, may well wonder why they were named after a variety of transient rap stars.

A survey of British birth certificates over the past 22 years by, a family history website, indicates that the practice of naming children after pop, sporting or film stars, or even fictional characters, is alive and well. It is merely an updating of all those women who, having wept over Gone with the Wind in 1939, christened their sons Ashley and their daughters Scarlett.

One American golfer is such a hero that there are now 1,191 British boys named Tiger, and at least three boys have the first names David and Beckham.

Hero worship is perfectly understandable; what is less easy to fathom are the 29 sets of parents who named a child Gazza after Paul Gascoigne, the former football genius with an alcohol problem. Even stranger, if such a thing is possible, are those who named their offspring not after sporting stars but after the clothes they wear; there are two such children at large, one called Reebok and the other Adidas.

It was all so much simpler in Elizabethan times, when three quarters of all Englishmen were named John, Thomas, William, Richard or Robert, and three quarters of all women were Elizabeth, Joan, Margaret, Anne, Alice, Agnes, Mary, Jane or Katherine."

tonight in cardiff

... jimmy smith has scored!
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
wishful thinking that there may be more scenes like this at the game tonight in wales.

as i listen to bbc radio london's finest commentate via my mac, i will be thinking of our friend dannie. he's a cardiff man, and used to go to the qpr/cardiff games with my father. i bloody hate cardiff, but if (toi toi toi) they win, i shall be happy for him.

the campaign for real spam

piglet and the spam guard
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
ken levine's blog tipped me off to this story, and i remembered that piglet and i had visited the spam museum on our 2003 road trip. go to the flickr pix for a shot of piglet outside the museum itself. today i chose this one of him with the guard, mainly because i like the idea of piglet being guarded by a spam person but also because my car at that time had virginia plates and this guard could not resist calling me a ham :-)

Spam: 'It's a meat,' Hormel insists
By Will Sturgeon

Spiced-ham maker Hormel Foods has announced a massive U.K. advertising campaign, in what may be seen as an attempt to separate its flagship "spam" product name from negative associations with unsolicited e-mail.

For the first time, Hormel will advertise on British television screens next week with a campaign that cost 2 million pounds ($3.7 million), according to a report on the BBC.

The ads will feature an array of "typical" British characters--including builders, campers and pantomime actors--all enjoying spam. According to Hormel figures, the U.K. public consumes around $24.5 million worth of spam each year.

But in recent years, Hormel has become increasingly touchy about the use of the word "spam" to describe one of modern society's worst digital menaces.

Last year, antispam company SpamArrest was sued by Hormel for trademark infringement over its use of the word "spam" in its company name.

At the time, Brian Cartmell, CEO of SpamArrest, said: "Hormel is acting like a corporate crybaby. Dozens of companies use the word 'spam' in their legal and commercial names, and no one confuses any of us with the Hormel canned meat product."

Seattle attorney Derek Newman added: "Spam has become ubiquitous throughout the world to describe unsolicited commercial e-mail. No company can claim trademark rights on a generic term."


Thursday, November 16, 2006

lessons of the holocaust

today the independent newspaper discusses the pros and cons of a new scheme to take 2 sixth-formers from every school in the united kingdom - more than 6000 students - to visit auschwitz in the next 3 years. the government, and gordon brown in particular, are behind this scheme.

"But not everyone agrees with the idea, arguing that it is an odd use of taxpayers' money - albeit a relatively small amount - and that there are other ways to teach children about atrocities. The critics also complain that it keeps Britain locked in an old-fashioned 60-year-old mindset about Germany and about British relationships with that country when, in reality, they have changed beyond all recognition."

the paper spoke to the head of education at the holocaust educational trust, kay andrews:

"The Holocaust has lessons to teach us today, but Andrews does not resort to the pat exhortation, "never again". He says: "It's lame to say 'never again' because there has been more genocide in the past 60 years, and of course there is still prejudice in the world. But I think learning about the Holocaust can inspire young people to try to make their own little world a better place, by doing something to prevent bullying or prejudice when they see it.""

on the other hand:

"Not everyone, however, agrees that taking students to Auschwitz is the way to put the memory of the Holocaust to use. Some question government backing for a trip to one particular atrocity site. Others say you don't have to physically visit such places. "You don't have to go to Auschwitz to appreciate the horrors of the period," says Professor Frank Furedi, whose mother survived the concentration camps, and who has been critical of the Government's "sanctimonious" approach to the Holocaust before.

"I think that Auschwitz and the camps have come to serve a symbolic purpose as a metaphor for evil in the imagination," he argues. "Learning about the Holocaust has become a rite of passage for schoolchildren. The Government uses it to try to inspire a moral literacy in young people, and I think that's a bad way to go about it. In a time when morality, good and evil are uncertain concepts, there's an impoverishment in using the Holocaust as a standard of good and evil. Atrocities are not the only way to get children to think about morality, or right and wrong. We should look more at good things, at human achievement rather than destruction and catastrophe.""

for me, especially as the time will soon be here when there are no more living witnesses, people need to go to the place and see that it is real. they need to see the ovens, and the piles of spectacles, and the shoes, and everything. if all you do is read about it then it is a lot easier to deny it. of course, i have a vested interest in perpetuating the memory of the shoah, with regard to the influence it had on my family. i hope i also have a vested interest with regard to the development of humanity, in that seeing to what depths human beings may sink will inspire others to defy evil. it's all very well celebrating human achievement, but surely the overcoming of our flaws is the greatest achievement of all?

the independent article was by tim walker

thursday thirteen meme

Thirteen Things about ravaj

1…. The hospital I was born in was pulled down a few weeks later.
2.... I am a lifelong fan of Queens Park Rangers FC
3.... I had Lulu's autograph but I lost it
4.... If I had a spirit guide I think it would be a panda bear
5.... The last book I read was "Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident"
6.... I'm a Reform Jew
7.... I hate chewing gum
8.... I wish i knew how to quilt, and am saving my favourite t-shirts in case I ever learn
9.... My favourite singer of all-time is Ella Fitzgerald
10... I love the taste of dill
11... I'm currently taking part in the National Novel Writing Month
12... I'm waaaaay behind in my novel writing
13... I'm not afraid of spiders

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

panda poo

"BANGKOK (Reuters) - A Thai zoo has discovered a way to utilise unwanted dung from a couple of pandas by using it to make paper for souvenirs, the country's panda project manager said on Tuesday.

The zoo had improvised a traditional way of making paper from mulberry trees in the northern city of Chiang Mai by using bamboo pulp that the pair of pandas could not digest, Prasertsak Buntrakoonpoontawee said.

The pandas, who are fed chopped bamboo, excrete about 23 kg (50 lb) of the pulp a day, he said.

"We know that any kind of pulp can be used to make paper, so we have applied the 2,000-year techniques of making paper from mulberry tree in this rural neighborhood to bamboo pulp from panda dung," Prasertsak said. The zoo had earned 300,000 baht (4,309 pounds) a year from selling fans, greeting cards, key chains, book marks -- all with panda faces and made from panda excrement paper -- and dried panda dung, enough to fund the project, he said"

gosh, imagine excreting 50 lbs a day.
(somebody needs to get a life)

the horse chestnut leaf miner moth's 15 minutes

yahoo news reports this morning:

"AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - The ancient chestnut tree that comforted Anne Frank while she was in hiding during the Nazi occupation of Holland must be cut down, the Amsterdam city council said Tuesday.

The diseased tree in the courtyard behind the canal-side warehouse where the Frank family took refuge for more than two years has been attacked by an aggressive fungus and a moth, called the horse chestnut leaf miner. Experts estimate the tree's age at 150-170 years.

The chestnut is familiar to some 25 million readers of "The Diary of Anne Frank." Anne often looked at it longingly from the attic, the only window that was not blacked out to prevent anyone seeing movement inside the apartment in the rear of the warehouse on Prinsengracht street where the Frank family hid.

The Jewish teenager made several references to it in the diary that she kept during the 25 months she remained indoors until the family was arrested in August 1944.

The tree's condition has rapidly deteriorated in recent years, the city said. The inner wood is rotten and the dying roots and bark are not regenerating.

"It's very sad, but the decision has been taken," said Patricia Bosboom, spokeswoman of the Anne Frank House museum. "It's one of the oldest chestnut trees in Amsterdam."

It will take several weeks before the city issues the required license to fell the tree.

The museum, where the tiny apartment has been preserved, said grafts already have been taken and a sapling from the original chestnut will replace the once-towering tree.

"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs," Anne wrote on Feb. 23, 1944. "From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. ...

"As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy."

Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945"

Monday, November 13, 2006

from madeleine l'engle's commonplace book

i just learned about commonplace books from lemony snicket, and it turns out i have had one for a long time ... the notebook in which i gather words and poems that i like. My poetry book includes stevie smith, dorothy parker, william blake, brian patten, a a milne, dylan thomas, jenny joseph, wilfred owen, ogden nash and sylvia plath. o, and gerard manley hopkins, she added. of course, like thousands of brits, my favourite poem has to be 'jabberwocky'.

anyway, i was reading 'walking on water' by madeleine l'engle. why? because i had finished the artemis fowl book from the library, i'd already read both patricia cornwells, and i wasn't in the mood for 'the star of redemption'. i like to have someone to talk to when i eat, and this book was on the top of the pile on my kitchen table. however, i got no further than the following quote from francis of assisi (p 25):

"In pictures of God and the blessed Virgin painted on wood, God and the blessed Virgin are held in mind, yet the wood and the painting ascribe nothing to themselves, because they are just wood and paint; so the servant of God is a kind of painting, that is, a creature of God in which God is honoured for the sake of his benefits. But he ought to ascribe nothing to himself, just like the wood or the painting, but should render honour and glory to God alone."

l'engle was talking about the symbolism of icons, but since i come from a tradition that proscribes the creation of images of the divine, that did not grab me. at first glance, it seemed to be simply about humility, that each human body is not actually divine, but rather a medium for the expression of the divine. and we should not get confused and start to believe our own press, i.e., that we deserve the kudos for being as wonderful as we are. then i started to think about, well actually the next thought was the picture of dorian gray. you know - the effect the decay of the soul has on the physical body. we do have some power over this creation - is it only the power to destroy?

what is the difference between humility and submission? perhaps humility is having no desire for kudos, and submission is either forced or voluntary acceptance of a power greater than one's self. while traditional jews are required to submit to the yoke of the commandments, they are free to choose so not to do. are the commandments the act of painting? and since we are in a covenantal relationship we have to take part in that act? or am i pushing this too far? hmmmmm.

loo-ton 2-3 qpr

jimmy smith scores vs loo-ton
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
back to back wins but don't worry we have no false sense of confidence here. we average the highest amount of goals per game in the league, but mostly because we let so many in. calling the defence porous would be generous.

meanwhile, after their manager's outburst, his club have called an emergency meeting. since people are punished for racist comments, may we hope that newell gets it in the neck for sexist comments?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Football manager demands ban on women referees

"by Rob Sharp
Sunday November 12, 2006
The Observer

Gender relations in football took a dramatic step backwards yesterday after one of the country's top young managers attacked the presence of female officials in the game. Luton's Mike Newell launched an astonishing criticism of assistant referee Amy Rayner, who he claimed made the wrong decision over a penalty in a match involving his team yesterday. Rayner is in her second year as an official and is one of the country's most successful female referees.

'She should not be here,' Newell said. 'I know that sounds sexist, but I am sexist, so I am not going to be anything other than that. We have a problem in this country with political correctness, and bringing women into the game is not the way to improve refereeing and officialdom.'

He added: 'It is absolutely beyond belief. When do we reach a stage when all officials are women, then we are in trouble. It is bad enough with the incapable referees and linesmen we have, but if you start bringing in women, you have big problems. It is tokenism, for the politically correct idiots.'

Newell caused controversy earlier this year when his allegation that he had been offered bungs by agents saw him branded the 'whistleblower' for Lord Stevens's bungs inquiry and a Panorama documentary. His latest outburst came after his team's 3-2 home defeat by Queen's Park Rangers.

But Rachel Yankey, who plays for Arsenal Ladies and is widely hailed as England's top striker, hit back at Newell's comments. 'There are bad refs and good refs,' she said.

'It doesn't matter if they're male or female. To be a ref in the Championship you are qualified to that level and it shouldn't matter if you're male or female, black or white. I agree the quality of refs needs to be stepped up, but that's across the board.'

QPR defender Marcus Bignot, who used to manage Birmingham City Ladies, also attacked Newell for his remarks. Newell believed his team should have been given a penalty when Carlos Edwards tangled with Bignot, but Bignot insisted Rayner and referee Andy D'Urso had made the right decision. Bignot said: 'Comments like those will stop female officials from trying to make their way in the game.

'Amy Rayner is a role model. What would he have said if it had been a male referee making that decision?'"

of course, the key point of this article is that newell's team were beaten by qpr :-)

elton john says ban all religions

in today's sunday observer, they present a conversation between elton john and jake shears from the scissor sisters. mainly they talk about being famous gays, but the passage that will probably get the headlines is this one:

"EJ: I just find it more human. We should all be together. I've got this really naive idea of what life should be like - it's an idealistic idea but it's completely integrated. We can't keep thinking of gay people as being ostracised; we can't keep thinking of Muslim people as being [ostracised] because of the fundamentalism that occurs in Islam. Muslim people have to do something about speaking up about it. We can't judge a book by its cover.

From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.

The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion? Why aren't they having a conclave; why aren't they coming together? I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts: instead of more violence why isn't there a [meeting of religious leaders]. It's all got to be dialogue - that's the only way. Get everybody from each religion together and say 'Listen, this can't go on. Why do we have all this hatred?'

We are all God's people; we have to get along and the [religious leaders] have to lead the way. If they don't do it, who else is going to do it? They're not going to do it and it's left to musicians or to someone else to deal with it. It's like the peace movement in the Sixties - musicians got through [to people] by getting out there and doing peace concerts but we don't seem to do them any more. We seem to be doing fundraisers for Africa and everything like that but I think peace is really important. If John Lennon were alive today he'd be leading it with a vengeance."

well, elton, i am glad you are there to give peace a chance.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

the first bit of the novel-writing month novel

a NaNaNeeNee Novel


The trouble with leaving more than enough time to check in and go through security at the airport is that invariably you end up with more than enough time to sit and wait. How do you pass that time? First, you wander through the Duty Free section. No longer interested in the cut-price Silk Cut cigarettes, you lust after a tin of Quality Street the size of your head, drool at the gift-sized truncheons of Toblerone, and console yourself with several squirts of very expensive perfume. Next, you trail up and down the parade of shops, perhaps buying a dvd that you do not really need to own but it costs less than you would pay for it outside the airport. You check out the electronics store, diffidently considering which digital camera you wish that you had, and end up buying some AA batteries, or a travel converter plug. Finally, because you didn’t really have breakfast, or dinner, or anything; you look for something to eat that is neither your last meal nor your next. Since you are going on a journey, normal rules do not apply, so calories do not count and all diets are off. This is how Rafi found herself sitting in a saggy armchair outside Caffe Nero in Terminal Four of Heathrow Airport, with a glass of pressed apple juice in her hand, and her mouth full of Mississippi Mud Pie. It had seemed a good idea at the time, but the cake was stale and her tastebuds were disappointed. There was a woman on the next sofa, trying to feed a fidgety baby in a pushchair from a glass jar full of bright orange goo. She filled a white plastic spoon and aimed for the baby’s open mouth. At the last moment, the baby gurgled and twisted out of the way. “O bugger!” said the woman as carroty pap smeared across the baby’s face. She reached for a napkin, and the baby grinned. As the smile was being wiped off its face, Rafi decided it was time to go to the gate.

The flight was departing from one of the very last gates at the end of the terminal. Rafi stepped onto a moving walkway, and began to glide. Each step carried her three times further than it would on the ground, and she imagined herself skating gracefully across the ice. “Excuse me,” she said, as she rounded someone who did not seem to know that those who stood still should do so on the right-hand side. She swallowed her irritation, and continued to sail forward. The walkway ended, and she stumbled back onto dry land. The last few hundred yards were the most barren section of the airport. There were no more toilets. Neither were there any computer ports or telephones. There was nowhere to buy a junky magazine, nor a coffee. A lone Coke machine stood by the window. A Chasidic Jew sat in the middle of a row of chairs, clutching a large white hat-box in his left hand, and reading from a small gold-embossed hardback book in his right hand. The desk at her gate was empty and she sat down to wait.

remembering the dead

monument to dead gi's in iraq
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
i found this photograph online this week. the helmets, rifles and dogtags of these dead soldiers have been planted by their comrades in memory of their sacrifice.

the photo makes these items look like the aliens that came out of the ship in 'close encounters', or e.t. himself.

and for what did they die?

bring our troops home!

Friday, November 10, 2006

my heart belongs to daddy

well, of course it does. don't worry, i am in various kinds of therapy. meanwhile, having heard this track since i was little (when they used to record on black vinyl), it has always been one of my favourites. today, however, was the first time in my memory (since i did see the movie 'let's make love' at least once, but in the days before i was aware of my interest in the sexuality of women) that i saw the film that goes with it. i rather enjoyed it. hope you do too (and thanks to pandagon for posting it!).

the next country about which to worry: china

thanks again to the week of generosity from the ny times, i am able to read the columns of the lovely mr. thomas friedman (he is a sweetie to talk to anyway). he is visiting china, and i present the following concluding paragraph from today's presentation:

"China, in other words, is inevitably going to move back to the center of U.S. politics, because it crystallizes the economic challenges faced by U.S. workers in the 21st century. The big question for me is, how will President Bush and the Democratic Congress use China: as a scapegoat or a Sputnik?

Will they use it as an excuse to avoid doing the hard things, because it’s all just China’s fault, or as an excuse to rally the country — as we did after the Soviets leapt ahead of us in the space race and launched Sputnik — to make the kind of comprehensive changes in health care, portability of pensions, entitlements and lifelong learning to give America’s middle class the best tools possible to thrive? A lot of history is going to turn on that answer, because if people don’t feel they have the tools or skills to thrive in a world without walls, the pressure to put up walls, especially against China, will steadily mount."

don't start worrying yet, though. soon it will be shabbat - the chance to put all worries aside for 24 hours and concentrate instead on giving yourself and all around you a break. gut shabbes!

weekend of remembrance

omaha beach by maira kalman
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
from kristallnacht to poppy day our thoughts are directed towards the world wars of the 20th century. we mourn those who gave their lives voluntarily through military service, and those who were unwilling victims of hatred and persecution.

the question for me is, however, will such thoughts and ceremonies have any effect on the wars and persecution of today?

rumsfeld is gone. hurrah. the troops, however, are still dying in iran and afghanistan. look at the graves. what next?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

a message from abraham lincoln

the new york times is offering its select pages for free this week, and i discovered that one of my favourite children's authors, maira kalman, is blogging there. here is an image for election day.

the worst of times

what issue brings together jews and muslims? according to the times today it is homophobia:

"Jews and Muslims unite against homosexuals

By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
Last Updated: 2:24am GMT 07/11/2006

Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem have found common ground in their fierce opposition to a gay rights rally due to be held in the city this week.

Ultra-orthodox Jews burn rubbish yesterday during a protest against the rally in Jerusalem in support of homosexuals’ rights
Leaders from both faiths have united to denounce the parade, which has prompted nights of street protest by ultra-orthodox Jews, who regard homosexuality as an "abomination", and death threats against those taking part.

After Israeli police found and defused a bomb bearing the message "sodomites out", orders were given for 12,000 officers to deploy across Jerusalem during the march, which is planned for Friday. Last night, lawyers from both sides were wrangling at the High Court over whether the parade should be allowed to take place and, if so, where. With the court expected to convene another hearing today, it appeared that the parade would take place but at a new location near the parliament, a safe distance from orthodox neighbourhoods.

The issue of the parade is generating more media coverage than the Israeli military incursion into Gaza, which has left more than 50 Palestinians dead.

The city's Islamic leadership is opposed to the parade, with Tayseer Tamimi, the head of the Palestinian supreme council of Sharia litigation, leading Muslim opposition. "This march tries to destroy the moral and spiritual values for youths," he said. "All religions discredit gays because it is against the decent human nature created by God."

Ultra-orthodox Jews have protested for three nights, setting up burning barricades and throwing rocks at police. Thirty protesters were arrested and six policemen hurt as water cannon was deployed to put out fires and disperse crowds.

"This isn't the gay pride parade but the disgrace parade," said Yaakov Cohen, an MP from the United Torah Judaism party. Ben Yizri, an MP for the ultra-orthodox Shas party, part of Israel's ruling coalition, said: "We believe God will be very upset."

Homosexuality was legalised in Israel 18 years ago, but gay rights campaigners said many homosexuals were intimidated by Jerusalem's strongly homophobic atmosphere. Noa Satath, of Open House, the group planning the parade, said it marked an important step in bringing homosexuality "out of the closet" in Jerusalem."

kol hakavod to those who will march, and prayers for their safety. to find out more about the jerusalem open house, click here.

Monday, November 06, 2006

i dare you not to laugh

following various political reports around youtube, i also came upon this:

although there are a couple of minutes when i wonder if the baby is going to choke, i have to say that i could not help but laugh along. the gurgling was too infectious. and in those moments, i had a lot of hope.

a scene of joy

the election is tomorrow. i am being inundated with pre-recorded calls to the extent that i asked someone this evening if she was real or on tape. it's dark early these days, phase one of the south beach diet does not get easier the longer one does it, and the election is tomorrow. am afraid to hope. despite all this, scenes of qpr joy have a miraculous, if brief, power to heal me. well, cheer me up a bit :-) so here are kevin and dexter feeling rather good about themselves.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

qpr 4-2 crystal palace

gallen vs palace
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
o frabjous day! our defence may be utterly porous, but at the moment we seem to be able to score goals as well. sounds like a mini return to the good old days, with entertaining football and a crowd that was really into it. and we actually won. i shall have to wear my new woolly r's hat forever :-)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

who belongs in the white house?

piglet @ 1600 penna ave
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
everyone has their own point of view, although whose it was before they got it is another matter altogether.

mind you, if piglet ran for president, the republicans would probably try to smear him regarding his unnatural interspecies relationship with winnie the pooh. and as for that time he was in kanga's pouch - oyyyyy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

the week before the elections

only in america ... a snippet from today's times from an article about last-minute republican campaigning for next week's mid-term elections:

"In one electoral district in Texas, the last-minute campaign strategy has been to play down the fact that a candidate is dead.

Glenda Dawson, a Republican congresswoman in Pearland, died in September but a campaign leaflet distributed this week shows her smiling and noting her achievements for the district and did not mention her passing.

Ms Dawson is expected to win the reliably Republican district, in which case a special election will be held in a few months time. State Representative Dennis Bonnen, who is running her campaign, denied deliberately obscuring her death.

"We don’t suggest that there’s a great thing she’s going to accomplish for the voters in the future," he said. "We had already made it clear to voters in one piece that she had passed away. We didn’t think it was necessarily necessary to repeat it.""

it's incredible, isn't it, that dead people are even allowed to run. *pause while we insert appropriate joke about currently serving politicians and how dead they may be* but then better dead than red, eh? or than rainbow or black or anything else.