Does the world hate women now?

When I returned to the U.S. shortly after 9/11 I started noticing a lowering of racial tensions in the city where I live. “They’re not the enemy anymore”, one of my neighbors explained, they being code for blacks. The new enemy of course being Arabs. One of my Arab neighbors living in the SRO down the street with the alkies and addicts was so nervous he starting calling himself Sam instead of Usama and went so far as to wear a large cross even though he told me he was Moslem.

But lately I have started noticing little things that make me wonder if women are about to become the new targets of hate. The latest was in the school’s computer room this week. I was at one screen working on a project, someone I recognized as an instructor was intent on another screen, and the computer tech was doing whatever computer techs do, when a young guy I had never seen before came in, very talkative. He smugly started talking about how he hated women, as if he was just continuing a conversation already in progress. Maybe this is the time to talk about hate speech, I remarked, also discrimination, racial predjudice and stereotyping. The other adults were suddenly quite intent on their computer screens. No one would meet my eyes. The young guy continued on in the same vein. Oh, you’re one of the good ones, he assured me. Turning back to my computer screen I remembered the old definition of a “good Indian”. His friend had a collection of “feminist jokes,” he added self-importantly. No one responded, and he wandered out again.

Remember the ending of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451? At the river the hero, Montag, has lost his pursuers with their helicopters and cameras, but the chase continues. Here it is on page 148. At the river, Montag has met up with  the book underground, who just happen to be watching the chase on a extra battery-powered screen.  “They’re faking. You threw them off at the river. They can’t admit it. They know they can only hold their audience so long. The show’s got to have a snap ending, quick! If they started searching the whole damn river it might take all night. So they’re sniffing for a scapegoat to end things with a bang. Watch. They’ll catch Montag in the next five minutes.” Sure enough, they find someone else to chase down, scramble the image of the face and kill him on screen.

I can never think of the nation’s foreign policy switch from bin Laden to Iraq without remembering this scene. Maybe hate is frigible. We lose bin Laden, we find Saddam. Congress debates our involvement with Iraq, so we look for a new group to hate. Lincoln said a house divided against itself could not stand; are we about to choose an internal target–women– for our latest enemies’ list?

A fragment of a Kris Kristofferson song keeps going through my mind: “reckon they’d just nail him up if he came down again, cuz everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on, who they can feel better than at any time they please”….

Posted in Gender. Comments Off on Does the world hate women now?

State of the Union: links to text of Monday night’s speeches

For anyone who had to be in class or at work last night, here is the text of President Bush’s State of the Union address released by the White House.

and here is the Democrat’s response.

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OMG, the grant application deadline is WHEN? oh, right, no problem…

So this week you just got a new textbook you get to teach for the first time, you found out you’re teaching that odd class in a remote location with less than a week to prepare, the dean will be around tomorrow to see if you’ve got all the names written in your attendence book, you haven’t written your syllabus yet, you’ve been talking to students about their goals and there are some special purpose funds that fit right into what you want to do this semester? And the deadline for grant applications is approaching quickly…

First you need a bunch of links. Here is the site with the most complete listing of links on the web. Some of the examples funded grants are no longer on line, but there is still a lot of info there.

By skimming a succession of articles, I was quickly able to focus on what I want to accomplish with the grant and how to present it, the typical formats, and the typical reasons grants are rejected so I can watch for pitfalls. Then some very specific advice. Find out what exact format is required by your specific organization, get a copy of some successfully funded proposals, find a second set of eyes to proofread your paper, and present yourself in simple but formal language.

Okay , I’ve got all the stuff in hand and the blessing of my program coordinators as well. Ally Ooop.

The Price of Capital Punishment-another child dead in copycat Saddam game

The fallout from Saddam’s hanging is not over yet. Arab children are killing themselves while re-enacting the execution.

Last week rumors of childrens’ deaths started to surface about the same time two Saddam loyalists were executed by hanging. This exection was filmed by the Iraqi government and the film shown to reporters–again without sound–but this time the event quickly faded from the public eye.

Then today The Jordan Times carried an article about the death of an 11-year-old boy in Morroco who died playing the hanging game. So far, the deaths of five children have been reported. A twelve-year-old boy in Saudi has died as well as a child in Algeria. This weekend two more died in Azerbaijan.

Isn’t anyone rethinking the value of capital punishment as a tool of the state?

The Jordan Times keeps stories posted for a week; here is the article in its entirety:

RABAT (Reuters) — A Moroccan man returned home to find his 11-year-old son hanging dead from the ceiling, a newspaper said on Thursday, the latest victim of a macabre game in which children mimic the death of Saddam Hussein.

The boy decided to copy the former Iraq leader’s execution while playing with his younger sister at their home in Khemisset, 80km east of the capital Rabat, newspaper Al Ahdath Al Maghrebia reported.

“The girl then went to school and left her brother playing his deadly game,” it said, adding that local officials had opened an enquiry into the death.

Saddam’s execution on December 30 came as families gathered for the religious feast of Eid Al Adha and the images of the former Iraqi leader on the gallows shown repeatedly on Arabic news channels spurred indignation among his fellow Sunni Muslims.

Since then, several stories have emerged of children dying or being injured after being captivated by the manner of Saddam’s death or by family conversations about the execution.

One 12-year-old Saudi boy died after using a chair and a metal wire to hang himself from a door frame, while another in Algeria was found hanging from a tree, papers reported.

Two boys in different regions of Azerbaijan hanged themselves at the weekend and may have been influenced by Saddam’s execution, a security source in the country said.

Many were impressed by Saddam’s dignity on the gallows in the face of insults hurled at him in his final moments and some praised him as a hero.

Posted in Arabs, Middle East, Saddam. Comments Off on The Price of Capital Punishment-another child dead in copycat Saddam game

Barack Obama: Meat or Fat?

Rev Al Sharpton says:
“Right now we’re hearing a lot of media razzle-dazzle. I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat, or if there’s some real meat there.”


Says Obama
“Stop looking at it!”

You heard the senator.

Hee, hee.

Marxist Militia Join Nepal Government–a rare success story about independent militias?

The television was tuned to one of the educational channels and I was listening with just one ear. Another story about independent militia.

The Taliban, it explained, had been driven out of mountainous Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. The U.S. wanted the Taliban chased down and killed, but Pakistani president Musharraf stalled. He wanted to incorporate them into the legitimate political process. But soon several hundred mayors of villages in a neighboring region were dead, killed by the Taliban. The attempt to bring the Taliban into the legitimate political process had failed, and Musharraf soon travelled to Washington to sign a weapons deal.

The same story is played out over and over again throughout the world, from Iraq to Lebanon to Somalia. Independent militias roam the streets, controlled by anonymous and unelected financial backers, while legitimate governments are unable to protect ordinary citizens.

Now we have news that the Marxist insurgents in Nepal have laid down their weapons and agreed to join the government. The Nepali government has been dissolved and a temporary 330-seat legislature formed with 83 Maoist rebel members. The insurgents have agreed to lock up their arms in metal containers, but they get to keep the key.

“Now they will have to learn the politics of compromise,” said Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times weekly. “Their biggest challenge will be that they can’t use the threat of violence to get their way in the parliament.”

Is this one of those rare success stories of a violent independent militia contained without military force? Time will tell.

Posted in peace. Comments Off on Marxist Militia Join Nepal Government–a rare success story about independent militias?

Iraq improves execution coverups

Two more members of Saddam’s inner circle were executed at 3 A.M. local time. Reporters were shown a government videotape of the execution.

No taunts accompanied this execution. How do we know? A spokesman for the Iraqi government said so. Like the government tape of the Saddam execution, this government tape also had no sound.

Apparently it has now become U.S. policy to declare publicly what actions it wants from the Iraqi government. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, commented on the Saddam execution from Egypt:

“There is no doubt that this should have been handled with dignity,” Rice said during a news conference with her Egyptian counterpart.

“I hope that those who are responsible for the way that came out will be indeed punished,” she added.

So the punishment should fall, not on those who made the event undignified, but on those who exposed the truth to the sunlight.

And for those who have wondered whether the U.S. is controlling the Iraqi government from behind the scenes, I guess that question is cleared up too.

Round up the usual suspects.

Posted in Arabs, Iraq, Saddam. Comments Off on Iraq improves execution coverups

Saddam Execution Cartoons from the Arab World

What happens in the world is something completely separate from how it plays in the world. Every once in a while I like to look at the Arab press to see how something is playing. Here are a couple of Saddam cartoons I ‘m still trying to figure out. This one from Emad Hajjaj.

emad-hajjaj-cartoon-saddam.jpgA number of individuals are standing with nooses around their necks looking at wristwatches. Does this refer to the two codefendents who were supposed to hang with Saddam whose sentences were postponed? But why so many? Maybe Saddam’s Baath party?

I have always been intrigued by Hajjaj. Superficially, the art reminds me of Doonesbury. His work used to appear in a Jordanian paper, but he was in trouble repeatedly for political reasons. Eventually he was banned from publishing. His cartoons feature an ordinary Arab guy with a big chin and a red and white kafiyyah head dress who comments on life, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem. If you look at his banned comics published on his website (somehow they don’t seem to get translated) they seem to depict rumors on the Arab street, but are a bit irresponsible with facts. For example, early in the march on Baghdad, there was a rumor about American troops sexually assaulting Arab women which turned out to be false. Before the factuality of the event could be determined Hajjaj drew a comic depicting this non-event. When this was proven to be a false rumor, the comic was not removed from the website but merely marked as censored. For now, I am displaying the icon to the site, just because it seems to be close to the “Arab street”, but I have some definate misgivings about the artist and the way he plays with the truth.

This one is by M. Hindawi:m-hindawi-sadam-cartoon.jpg

The country Iraq is spelled ألعراق in Arabic. The ل on the right and the ر on the left are attached to the ع “ein” with the noose around it and have become straightened and illegible. Clearly without the letter “ein ” the word “Iraq” falls apart. I thought that was pretty subtle.

And there are a few threads about the funeral of Saddam that mourn him. After all he was Sunni and not an enemy of other Sunni nations like Egypt and Jordan. People have posted photographs of him, some pictured within the map of Iraq. Here are a couple of the emoticons people have posted in his memory.

cry-emoticon.gif candle-emoticon.gif

Posted in Arabic, Iraq, Middle East, Saddam. Comments Off on Saddam Execution Cartoons from the Arab World

Map Frenzy: Partitioning Iraq

Back in my 70’s post-college crowd, there were three trendy things: Mash, Monty Python, and Risk.While everyone enjoyed watching Mash and Monty Python, and never missed an episode, the playing of the board game Risk was a strictly male event. For hours at a time four or five guys would spread out the map-like board and stare at the wooden risk.jpgsquares occupying each land mass as they pondered how, like Pinky and the Brain, they could Try to Take Over the World.

This week, after the presidential speech, suddenly new maps started appearing online. Are we about to embark on a new game of risk, this time with the Iraqi map and real armies, not to mention real people?

One of the first maps appeared in the Jordan Times and was credited to the White House. The map was divided into colors representing the Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions.

Here is the map from the Jordan Times January 12, 2007 to accompany the president’s “troop surge” speech:troop-surge-plan-jt1-12-07.jpg

The first thing I notice about the bar graphs on the top is that the troop strength has been up and down over the course of several years. The proposed troop strength is more than over the December holidays, but fewer than during the elections. So is that really a “troop surge”? To me, it’s a little bit like a store raising prices and then declaring a “sale” where the prices are “drastically lowered”.

No, I’m not buying the “troop surge” rhetoric. Then what’s it about? Why the sudden publicity? Clearly the presidential speech was geared to put the Iraqi question on the front page and keep it there for a while. The message, I believe, was to Iraq’s president, al-Maliki. The American public will not tolerate much more civil war in Iraq. Maliki is about to be left high and dry unless he can produce results and produce them very quickly. No wonder he has said that he has a difficult job and he no longer wants to be president. So the map is a fish-or-cut-bait type of proposition to the Arab world. Maliki will have to ditch Moqtadr and the lunatic Mahdi army. The Sunnis will have to embrace Maliki and the moderate Shiites.

In the map we see a Shiite area in the south dominated by a British-held Basra. Not the first time the Brits have outplayed us at the Game of Nations, and it probably won’t be the last.

Baghdad looks pretty much in the area controlled by the Sunnis in the central region. Then we see a long Sunni area bordered on one side by Syria and on the other by Iran. A clear shot for any Hisbollah activists that want to continue their lines of control between Tehran and Damascus and the independent militias of Beirut for years to come. And instead of being allied with the U.S., the Sunni area is controlled by al-Qaeda, a clear self-declared enemy or the U.S. But wait, now that Saddam is out of the way, does that clear the U.S. to be an ally of the Sunnis, as it is of the Sunni nations of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt? The U.S. has always embraced the southern Shiites a little awkwardly, never quite getting over the idea that they were “marsh-Arabs”. The U.S.? The Sunnis? It’s as natural for us as Ali Baba and Flying Carpets. Why can’t we all be friends?

Then there’s the Kurds. Yes, the Kurds are fun. Yes, they’re more like us in their form of government and in their culture than the Arabs. They have this incredible music like the flute music of the Andes and like the dances of Katmandu, a haunting history and a charming winsome people. But we need Turkey. Turkey is not comfortable with its own Kurdish population. And if Iraq splits apart and the U.S. is left only with Shiite Allies in the south with the Brits controlling the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Sunni/al-Qaeda block controlling the river area and the passages between Iran and Syria, how on earth would we protect our Kurdish “allies” isolated in the middle of their –and our–enemies in the mountains?

Sunnis have no oil in their present territories. Oil can do amazing things for a country’s economy. How long does anyone think the Kurds would be safe with Mosul and Kirkuk sitting there like ripe grapes across the flat, unimpeded plains? And how could we, their allies, protect them surrounded on four sides by fledgling nations hostile to the U.S.? More flyovers? We tried that for ten years already. What a nice, fun map for the Sunnis to think over.

This next map appeared last summer but has started reappearing in the blogosphere this last week. It’s another Risk game that reorganizes the whole Middle East based on ethnicity and changes quite a few present borders. Their declaration? “Ethnic cleansing works.” Apparently they haven’t studied actual ethnic cleansing like that in Rwanda, where the post massacre Hutu-Tutsi population ratio was the same as the pre-massacre percentages.


You have to wonder how these military analysts would divide California.

My favorite is an interactive map from the Public Broadcasting System that shows population densities as well as mixtures of ethnic groups and Sunni Turkoman populations.

Posted in Arabs, Iraq, Middle East. Comments Off on Map Frenzy: Partitioning Iraq

Beam me up, Scottie–Rapture Readiness is now an Exact Science

Just when you thought you’d seen everything, there’s a website that claims to track rapture-related events. Who would think that the price of oil, unemployment, the interest rates, and attacks on farm animals could all be “factored together” into a “cohesive indicator” to “standardize prophecy reporting”. Also considered: drug use by teens, “beast government” (Romania and Bulgaria join the EU), and “date settings”:

Several organizations have been talking about Iran launching
an attack against Israel on 22 Aug. The claim is based on the
doomsday beliefs of Iran’s President.

Interesting enough, the site also defends human rights:

To have a dictator, there must be a shortage of civil rights, and of
human rights. The time a people least expect their losing their freedom
is when they are willingly giving it up.

And the bottom line? The Rapture Index is down one from 161 to 160. Meaning what? Anything over 145 means “fasten your seat belts.”

If you are concerned about the end of the world, you can study the factors in the rapture index at

The day I become concerned about the end of the world will be the day when the authors who made so much money on the “taken up” book series follow the Biblical injuction to take everything they have and give it to the poor.

Posted in Religion. Comments Off on Beam me up, Scottie–Rapture Readiness is now an Exact Science