Tuesday, April 26, 2005
LIES A TEACHER TOLD
I continued my “activism” as a high school social studies teacher, introducing bewildered students to Chomsky, and often relying on James E. Loewen’s ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me’, the now quintessential anti-American history textbook, replacing Zinn’s undocumented, cumbersome ‘A People’s History of the United States’. As a college student, I had been a willing victim of educational malpractice. Now, as a high school teacher, I occasionally engaged in educational malpractice and subjected unwitting adolescents to the Chomskian-Zinnian-Loewenian worldview ...
I pushed on, even to the extent of immersing myself in that most miserable and unrewarding of all Leftist causes – the Palestinian Cause. So deep did I fall into the illusion that enough rational Palestinian political leaders existed to pull off a viable, “democratic” Palestinian state, that I compromised my teaching position at a Jewish day school by publicly supporting the Palestinians’ right to resist with violence.
That was written in October 2001, one month after Lopez-Calderon finally abandoned his leftist views. He is among many.
“WORLD IS FLAT” FLATTENED
Matt Taibbi celebrates the peculiar genius of Thomas L. Friedman:
I think it was about five months ago that Press editor Alex Zaitchik whispered to me in the office hallway that Thomas Friedman had a new book coming out. All he knew about it was the title, but that was enough; he approached me with the chilled demeanor of a British spy who has just discovered that Hitler was secretly buying up the world’s manganese supply. Who knew what it meant—but one had to assume the worst.
“It’s going to be called ‘The Flattening’,” he whispered. Then he stood there, eyebrows raised, staring at me, waiting to see the effect of the news when it landed. I said nothing.
It turned out Alex had bad information; the book that ultimately came out would be called ‘The World Is Flat’. It didn’t matter. Either version suggested the same horrifying possibility. Thomas Friedman in possession of 500 pages of ruminations on the metaphorical theme of flatness would be a very dangerous thing indeed. It would be like letting a chimpanzee loose in the NORAD control room; even the best-case scenario is an image that could keep you awake well into your 50s.
Still, less scary than Project Huff ‘n’ Puffington, described below.
Monday, April 25, 2005
NEXT LEVEL REACHED
“Get ready for the next level in the blogosphere,” warns the NY Times:
Arianna Huffington, the columnist and onetime candidate for governor of California, is about to move blogging from the realm of the anonymous individual to the realm of the celebrity collective.
According to the NYT, unless we’re failed gubernatorial candidates and unimpressive columnists, we bloggers are “anonymous”.
She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls “the most creative minds” in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9.
Sounds like a pile of crap.
Having prominent people join the blogosphere, Ms. Huffington said in an interview, “is an affirmation of its success and will only enrich and strengthen its impact on the national conversation.” Among those signed up to contribute are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman.
Hmm. Can’t wait for Diane Keaton‘s opinion on, say, nothing. This won’t work; blogs function best when they focus closely on events or themes, chasing down links and evidence to support their arguments. You think Keaton (or Cronkite, or Mailer, or Beatty, or Mamet) will devote more than a post or two to any given issue? It’ll be a festival of shallow takes, as Cronkite predicts:
This gives me a chance to sound off with a few words or a long editorial. It’s a medium that is new and interesting, and I thought I’d have some fun.
Yay. Blogs rule.
TRAFFIC EXPERT CONCERNED
Road management in Turkey is of concern to Australia’s revenue-crazed southern traffic bandit:
Victorian Premier Steve Bracks today said controversial roadworks near Anzac Cove on Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula had been mismanaged.
Maybe the Turks should install speed cameras at 20-metre intervals. That’s management!
(Via Alan R.M. Jones)
YOUNG, RICH, AND SMART
Sydney’s Sun-Herald remarks of a 16-year-old fame gal:
She champions the war in Iraq, despises Michael Moore and thinks all fashion models are disgusting.
Who is she? Find out here.
(Via Adam Barnes)
Why are Bush supporters ignoring the burning Manuel Lopez Obrador issue?
Seriously. I’d really like to know. Were we meant to be ignoring this? Rove’s email is unclear.
NO JOY IN THE SPELLING FIELDS
The Age reportes/reports:
No joy in the killing fields: Clarke
The Anzac spirit lives on in East Timor, the Solomons and in tsunami-devastated east Asia, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.
Ms Clarke said that “no joy can be found in what happened on the killing fields of Gallipoli”.
Ms Clark thanked Turkey for allowing Australians and New Zealanders into their country to commemorate the events April 25, 1915.
Stupid newspaper can’t get anything right. Also in The Age, many letters on that repulsive Michael Leunig column; they split about 50/50, but the pro-Leunig letters must have been in short supply for The Age to run this, from Vicki Payne:
A heartfelt thank you to Michael Leunig for his article on the civilian casualties of war. As a three-year-old in the United Kingdom at the outbreak World War II, I lost my father to six years in the army and my mother to six years of full-time nursing. When we reunited as a family, I found it all too frightening and confusing. I left home for boarding school and eventually left the country, emigrating to Australia. To this day I struggle to have any sense of “family”. Many civilians were damaged in such a fashion by war.
And you thought they had it tough in Dachau.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Australia is a young nation, and so finds it easy to place itself on the right side of history. We are not swung off course by the historical ballast carried by older countries; we fight the right wars, for the right causes. Australian servicemen and women have prevailed in many heroic conflicts. Yet Australia’s national day of remembrance for our fallen is tied to a battle ninety years ago that we lost, catastrophically. The very first Australian soldier to hit the beach at Gallipoli, Joseph Stratford, met a fate that would shortly befall many of his countrymen:
He struggled onto the beach and charged a Turkish machine-gun, bayoneting two Turks before falling over them dead, riddled with bullets.
Stratford wasn’t the first Anzac—it’s an acronym for A. & N. Z. Army Corps—to die. Others drowned before they could even make it to shore. As veterans of that day, and that war, gradually became too frail to march and eventually left this earth, many anticipated that our commemoration of an appalling defeat would fade with them. This hasn’t happened:
Peter Stanley, principal historian at the Australian War Memorial, said the combination of a “round anniversary” and the “fact that it has coincided with the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War” was driving interest in Anzac Day higher.
Mr Stanley said that 25 years ago, many Australians thought Anzac Day was “on the skids”.
“They looked around and saw the ageing veterans and said this day would decline, like Empire Day, and may even die out,” he said.
“Over 25 years, the exact reverse has occurred. It has grown, not just because it is a commemorative event, it has become the de facto national day.”
Today thousands will gather in Sydney and the other state capitals to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1915 landing at Gallipoli. Perhaps 20,000 will be Gallipoli itself, where there will be surprise at the youth of many who died. Some marchers are as young now as were the soldiers they represent when they signed up for service:
Michelle Balfour, 15, will march tomorrow, wearing three generations of medals.
Her great-grandfather, Staff Sergeant John Balfour, was among the first Anzacs to land at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.
“We’ve got to keep the tradition alive. If we don’t keep following it through, people will just think it’s in history and it wasn’t as big as it was.”
Michelle and Michael Harris, the great-great-nephew of James Martin, who was the youngest Australian to go to war at age 14, will carry a replica banner used at the first Anzac Day service in 1916 at the Australian War Memorial tomorrow.
Small towns across Australia will also attend parades to mark a day that defines Australians. Which returns us to the fact that Gallipoli was a doomed conflict; how has this one battle come to shape us so profoundly? A clue may be found in the words of WWII veteran Bill McGrath, determined to march today, no matter what:
“I’ll just tag along at the end and see how far I can go, but I’ll tell you, I’ll be crawling before they put me in a car,” Mr McGrath said.
Anzac Day is less to do with loss or victory than it is to do with struggle and defiance, even when facing certain defeat. But Anzac Day also serves to remind us of Australian triumphs, as reader kisdm001 noted earlier in comments:
If you go to the north of France - as I did with the much better half a little while ago - there is a village called Villers-Bretonneux. This little village was liberated by Australian troops in World War One one year to the day after the landing at Gallipoli - April 25th 1916.
We stopped in at the local bar and had a drink and got talking to the old guy who ran the joint. My girlfriend - who is French - explained that I was Australian and that in the afternoon we were going to visit the Aussie War Graves just outside of town.
Finding out I was an Aussie was enough. The drinks were on the house and - after a second round - that old fella shut up shop and took us on a walking tour of the town. He showed us the flagpole in the village where the Australian flag still flies. He showed us the square where ANZAC Day is celebrated each and every year, usually with a representative of the Aussie embassy from Paris. And then he showed us the local school with the plaque attached noting that it was rebuilt with funds sent back to France from Australian soldiers who had liberated it from the Germans. There is even a kangaroo carved into the stone. 90 years on, this old fella still remembered what his father probably would have told him: Australian soldiers aren’t about killing, they’re about saving; it’s not about destroying, it’s about rebuilding.
“My feeling is that Kofi has shrunk in stature somewhat in the last year.”—former U.N. adviser Stephen C. Schlesinger, director of the New School’s World Policy Institute
Really? You think so? Meanwhile, an ex-UN investigator maintains pressure on the shrunken UN head:
A former senior investigator from the independent probe into allegations of corruption in the U.N. oil-for-food program confirmed Saturday that he had resigned to protest a report clearing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan of meddling in the operation.
In his first public comments since leaving the investigation, Robert Parton, one of two investigators who resigned from the Independent Inquiry Committee led by former Fed chief Paul Volcker, criticized his former employer Saturday for misrepresenting the grounds of his resignation.
A militant sheik has threatened to slaughter Australia’s troop contingent in southwest Iraq.
Speaking days before today’s scheduled arrival of new Australian troops in Iraq, Sheik Muhnad Al Garayi said Australian troops, such as the Americans and the British, were not welcome.
Depends on who you talk to, I suppose. Here’s Hashim Al-Sudani:
Time may be passing and we may forget the calamity in which we were living. And this is what happened to us, we Iraqis. After two years since our delivery from the regime of Saddam the criminal, who was slaughtering us, torturing us and driving us like a herd of cattle to the arenas of his losing battles, with execution squads behind us; we have forgotten how we used to live in constant terror and how we were afraid to say any word that might lead us to dark torture chambers in the Department of General Security or the Governorate, or the Fifth Branch.
And how we have forgotten those who delivered us from the hell in which we were living and from which we did not even dare dream of getting out. Nay, but more than that; we see today Muqtada Al-Sadr and his followers coming out in demonstrations to demand the exit of what they call “occupation”, and burning images of President Bush; when they were meek and humiliated during Saddam time, not daring to utter a single word.
They’re not so silent now. Oh, well; free speech is evidence of democracy.
CARTOONIST CAUSES DIVISION
I’ve just been contacted via phone by a journalist from the Age newspaper, about a letter I wrote to them re the Leunig article.
According to this person, reaction has been HUGE to this, completely off-the-scale, with about half very critical, the other half praising it to the skies. Which says something about the readership.
Again, here’s The Age’s email address. The Age seems to have gone on an anti-Anzac binge; check Shaun Carney sneering at commercial coverage of Anzac Day and youngsters who’ve made the trip to Turkey:
There are the books appearing in the bookshops, then the television specials (Channel Nine in the past few days has been touting itself as the Anzac network), the wraparounds in the newspapers and, ultimately, the Prime Ministerial visit to the sacred turf of Anzac Cove, surrounded by thousands of drunken young Australians who have spent the previous few hours rocking on to AC/DC and Cold Chisel songs.
Bad young Australians! You should be all sober and meek, like journalists.
From a profile of Clive James in today’s Sydney Sun-Herald liftout magazine (no link available):
I like Tim Blair’s blog—I don’t necessarily agree with all of his politics, but I think he’s a good blogger.
What a nice thing to read on a Sunday morning. Also in the Sun-Herald, Miranda Devine takes a further look at Sheik Faiz Mohamad, the Sydney cleric and sleeve advocate whose cover, so to speak, was blown last week in the Melbourne Age. Turns out that insufficient clothing isn’t the Sheik’s only beef:
He also condemned the soap opera Days Of Our Lives, which he said made wives negative towards their husbands, and said “premarital sex is fashionable, that manipulation, deceit, cheating, lying falsehood are all essential ways to get the man or lady of your dreams”.
More from Miranda here.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
PROVOCATIVE ONE-LETTER POST INTENDED TO LURE COMMENTS
IRAQIS KNOW TO PARTY
Omar at Iraq the Model reports:
Ferid is photoblogging from the graduation party at the Baghdad’s college of dentistry.
It’s really heartening to see that students refuse to be intimidated and continue to practice their normal life after the sad incident that took place in Basra last month.
See the whole photo album here. Great photos!
iraqis know to party, beleive me, iam iraqi and we know how to have fun, maybe in ten years time, when iraq is safe for everyone, you guys can come and see.
In ten years time, when you come and see iraq, you will be proud of what your country did, and many people will be thankful, beleive me, we just need time.
THE GREAT RACE
Each car carries two adventurers and is not only your mode of transport, but also your home. For the purposes of speed you and your co-driver are likely to be sleeping and driving in shifts. It’s not essential, and if you can’t part with your silver spoon there are plenty of hotels along the route, however if you want to finish with the rest of the rally it makes sense. At each stopover point there will be luxuries such as beds and roofs available to those who want them.
Our back up team isn’t just small, it doesn’t exist. If you come on the Mongol Rally, you’re relying on yourself. It’s an adventure not a petting zoo so we can in no way guarantee your arrival at the destination, or your safety.
Puce can be our translator! Or our food, in an emergency.