Little Eva died today. For those not into old 1960’s rock n’ roll, Little Eva was a Motown singer who did a great, great song called Loco-Motion. I haven’t heard this song for years, but just the title brings back the tune. And the words:

Move around the floor in a Loco-motion.
(Come on baby, do the Loco-motion)
Do it holding hands if you get the notion.
(Come on baby, do the Loco-motion)
There’s never been a dance that’s so easy to do.
It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue,
So come on, come on, do the Loco-motion with me.


It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue. Still works after all this time. Rest in peace, Little Eva.

(Thanks to reading & writing)


Come Together

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Thanks to Doc I found out about an exchange between Frank Paynter and Tom Shugart regarding Tom’s posting in response to Jonathon’s fundamentalism post. (Tom had a couple of additional postings on this, but the Blogger permalinks seem to be screwed up. Frank, also, has continued this. Jonathon is wisely staying out of this fest, choosing instead to write about less flammable issues.)

Frank says that Jonathon and Tom are “rooting for the Bush team” because of their expressed views on peace protests, if I understand the discussion correctly. In a follow-up post, he also writes:

I believe that by acts of mass demonstrations and civil disobedience we may yet break the stranglehold of the media oligopoly and inform our fellow citizens of the great evil being perpetrated on the world by the Bush regime under the guise of American patriotism and self protection.

And I think that is the choice. You are either with them or against them. Any hand wringing about how the war was bad but now we owe it to the people of the region to help them rebuild begs the question of who benefits. Will the Iraqi people be any better off with our support than they would with the support of the European community? Not. Who benefits is the cartel that provides reconstruction services… the Halliburtons the Bechtels, the whole Bohemian Grove kaffee klatch.

I believe from what Frank writes that I must also be said to be supportive of the Bush team. (Note to readers: No real worry here.) I also stopped supporting the peace protests when I felt they did little good. And I won’t attend the ones this weekend because, to me, they lack focus and discipline. Are we protesting to support Iraq? Or against Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft? Are we for UN? Or against the Patriot Act? And before you say the lines are clear on all these issues, they aren’t. The ‘peace movement’ needs to make a decision about what the fight is, develop an effective voice, and then stick with it.

Frank’s reasoning is based on the old adage, if you’re not with us, you’re against us. We’ve seen this on both sides of the fence this last year, haven’t we? We’re all so sure we’re right. Doc talks about ‘certitude’, and in a play on words, calls the participants ‘certitudes’. He wrote:

It’s about partisanship and paranoia. To me all the certitudes are equally off base because they’re convinced the Other Guys are part of some big-ass Conspiracy, or are what Craig Burton calls EWBU: Evil, Wrong, Bad and Ugly.

Doc, can’t say it better than you write good. Certitudes. For women, would it be certibo—, uh, never mind.

Doc makes a good argument, but I’m not nice like Doc – I don’t call it certitude, I call it pig-headed dumb-ass stubbornness. Regardless of whose spit is flying through the air. Including my own.

Peoples, said once before and worth repeating again – we need an end to the rhetoric. An end to the accusations and the blame, the finger pointing, name calling, and petty squabbles. This is not helping anyone.

Point blank: if you can read this, you’re doing better than the people in Iraq. They’re the ones with the right to complain – we’re just along for the ride. It’s time to figure out how to help them. Tomorrow we’ll fight the evil empire, but tonight, dammit, people are dying.

Yes, we are not all going to agree, and we have different agendas and objectives, and yes, even different fights at times. And this includes different opinions about marches and protests. However, I don’t think there’s a one of us that doesn’t want the best for the people of Iraq right now, regardless of the events leading to this moment. Agreeing to this one point is not selling out, or going over to the enemy, is it? And it’s a start, a follow up to a belief that there’s hope.

This disturbing exchange between virtual friends did me in on politics for a bit. In particular, the last posting and story has made me yearn for some quiet times. I know that a silver harp isn’t the same as an Iraqi’s life, young or old, but the thought of the harp gone forever, or worse, the clay tablets with humanity’s oldest writing destroyed, well, sorry, but I’ve hit my temporary overflow point.

On Tuesday, if I get my eagerly anticipated but not yet arrived final advance from O’Reilly for Practical RDF, I’m heading to San Francisco to see what I can grab from my storage unit. In the meantime, I want to focus on other things such as my photography and poem pairs (this is becoming an obsession). And Steve’s hopefully continuing with his discussion about weblog writing as literature.

Maybe I’ll see if I can find a set of duck footprints to photograph for Dorothea. D, would geese do, instead?



Beautiful protest for naught

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There is so much to be concerned about with Iraq now. The people, and their continued survival. People being fed, given water, feeling secure. The end to fighting so that re-building can occur.

Unfortunately, when the re-building occurs, it will be too late to save one aspect or Iraqi culture that all of us share – our historic heritage.

In Beautiful Protest I talked about the Ziggerat or Ur, the site of the first known city. In Beautiful Protest Bridges of Brick, I talked about Iraq as the source of religion, of culture, of community. In this one country resides some of the most exquisite artifacts of our past. Steps still exist in Iraq that were once walked by Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

At least, I think they still exist.

Catching up on my reading, I found this at ABC News:

So far, reports suggest U.S. troops have treaded over at least one site  ancient Babylon. The Reuters news agency said that U.S. forces had moved through the location of the ancient King Nebuchadnezzar’s city on Wednesday. A tank from the 101st Airborne Division rumbled onto the main Babylon site, containing elaborate reconstructions of the city. A general rebuked the move.

“We just can’t have that,” the general said, according to Reuters

“If there is a time when you’re going to lose the collection it’s now  during this volatile transition between Saddam Hussein’s regime and whatever comes next,” said Elizabeth Stone, an archaeologist at State University of New York in Stony Brook. “Even here when Hurricane Gloria came through, people were looting and doing outrageous things.

“And that was just a hurricane. This is a regime change.”

In the London Times:

In the capital mobs looted the country’s largest archeological museum, and US troops shot and killed a shopkeeper who was defending his premises with a Kalashnikov rifle against looters. In the southern city of Basra, Irish Guards shot dead five looters after the gang opened fire on them.

From the Times of Oman:

Mobs also looted Baghdad’s cultural and historic treasures, including Iraq’s largest archaeological museum, as shopkeepers resorted to arming themselves amid a collapse in authority after US troops routed Saddam Hussein’s regime.

A dozen looters helped themselves undisturbed in ground floor rooms at the National Museum of Iraq, where pottery artefacts and statues were seen broken or overturned and administrative offices were wrecked.

The museum housed a major collection of antiquities, including a 4,000-year-old silver harp from Ur.

I wonder if the harp will escape being melted down?


Reports coming out of Baghdad (and just confirmed by ABC News) indicate that mobs have looted Iraq’s largest acheological museum amid a breakdown in civil authority following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Lotters helped themselves to treasures in the National Museum of Iraq, which housed the remains of ancient civilizations, one of the richest archeological heritages in the world.

And there’s more.

Read the story? Watched the Movie? Now own a piece of your own.

Iraq: Coming soon to an eBay near you.


Obliquely yours

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I was tempted into intruding in a discussion I read about at Steve Himmer’s, about Weblog as Literature. Or should I say weblogging as small “l” literature. This is a topic of particular interest to me lately, especially after pulling Paths: The Book of Colors. However, it’s also too rich for one writing so, for the moment, I want to focus on one particular item Steve mentions: writing about oneself obliquely.

Steve describes what writing obliquely means to him:

I understand, I think, at least as far as any of us understands one another, what Jill was getting at: I, too, blog obliquely, dodging what I know is really on my mind behind something else. When I feel alienated and disconnected and lonely, I write about the extraordinary lengths I go to in order to receive an ordinary piece of mail, an ordinary link to the world. I could have written instead, ‘I feel alienated and disconnected and lonely today.’ Or I could have very quickly said, ‘Fed Ex threw a package on my roof today.’ Why didn’t I? I’d like to think it’s because, whether I’m conscious of the decision or not, I’m employing some craft in my telling of tales in this space. I’d like to think it’s because what I’m doing on this site is trying to write literature (please note that I spelled that with a small ‘L’; that stands for ‘less pretentious’). I’m not trying to tell you about my day, but about my life. There’s a big difference.

Steve’s remarks are based on a posting by Jill Walker, in which she writes:

When my partner tells me he’s unsure about our relationship I write about protesters rallying for peace. When I don’t know whether we’re partners or not I write that I’m tired. When he leaves me I write about civilian casualties and how untrustworthy and partial reports of a war can be.

The only way I can blog that he left me is obliquely.

Writing obliquely. This wouldn’t be the same as writing metaphorically, the technique Virginia Woolf uses in Death of a Moth, and I use in the parable Mockingbird’s Wish. No, to me oblique writing is such that the reader is given a hint, but only a hint, that all is not what it seems. They can then choose to pursue the tantalizing bits of what isn’t said, or, if they prefer, to leave it in mystery as part of the environment of the work.

Neither Steve nor Jill are using metaphors, but I’m not sure I understand their use of ‘oblique’. Mustn’t a hint remain of that which isn’t shown, to leave the reader wondering that they may not be hearing the complete story from the words given? Or do I understand this incorrectly?

Following from the examples that Jill and Steve gave, I, too, have an ‘untold story’ from this week. I and another person, a guy, successfully interviewed for long term contracts as senior analysts/developers with a local organization. However, there is a caveat to my contract offer: I would also assume other duties that would normally be given to a project assistant, another position the organization was seeking to fill. I am, according to the agent, “so talented I can do that work in addition to my own”.

I didn’t write about this offer. Instead, I wrote about the abuse of women in the military and the inequal treatment of women in technology. I wrote about the chaos in Iraq, and quoted the poem, “Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.”

According to Jill and Steve, this is oblique writing, which is feeling and experiencing one thing, talking about another. But I’m still left confused. By this approach, none of us is really talking about ourselves; we’re not providing the hint to underlying events that, to me, oblique writing would have.

Misdirection and sleigh of hand. Oblique writing is as much misdirection and sleigh of hand as what isn’t written. In regards to Steve and Jill’s writing, it isn’t the examples given to explain ‘oblique writing’ that are the true occurrences of oblique writing in their posts.

Jill uses as example of writing obliquely, her references to the war in Iraq as displacements for a troubled relationship and breakup. But with this, she introduces her pain into a weblog posting about something totally unrelated – weblog writing – without directly putting her emotions and reactions to the events into words. The reader can then engage or not as they will. For myself, I am pulled in much more strongly, and empathetically, then if she had bluntly stated, “We broke up. I am hurting”. I don’t even know her and I felt for her.

Steve does the same when he uses the FedEx story as example of oblique writing, but which, indirectly introduces us to the fact that he’s feeling alienated and disconnected. Again, it is up to the reader how much they choose to connect, or not.

So subtle, devious really, but without any negative intent – a way of allowing the reader to take on as much or as little of the feelings and the events as they wish, without being forced. Hiding secrets, in plain view.

Oblique writing. I’ll have to give it shot.


Language of conquest, vocabulary of occupation

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

In CNN, from the report on the 25,000 rally for the US troops at “Ground Zero” in New York:

“Some of you may have seen yesterday in Baghdad a picture of a statue of that evil dictator being toppled and dragged through the streets by Iraqis,” Pataki said to the cheering crowd.

“Let’s melt it down. Let’s bring it to New York and let’s put it in one of the girders that’s going to rise over here as a symbol of the rebuilding of New York and the rebuilding of America.”

Though there has never been any proof that Saddam Hussein or the people of Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 or Al-Queda, the Governor of New York talks about using Saddam Hussein’s statue in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. After the US flag draped over the statue yesterday, could there have been any other act more guaranteed to continue the confusion and the alarm with which the Arab world views our presence in Iraq?

Perhaps 25,000 of us need to march to New York and tell the Governor that if he wants the statue, he’ll have to ask the owners. The people of Iraq. You know, the people we just liberated?