Friday, June 24, 2005

Who knew prison could be so stressful?

The prisoners at Gitmo have it made in the shade, living in what Dick Cheney calls a tropical paradise. But the guards, well, that's a different story.

According to DefenseLINK News, military personnel working at the camp are so stressed by their jobs and surroundings that they feel the need to drown their sorrows three times over. Living and working in what some describe as one of Dante's Seven Circles of Hell can cause a guard to increase his alcohol consumption by 300%. (Yes, you read all those zeros correctly.)

Wow! Now that's a lot of booze. Are we to assume they are doing this on their own time? Should we believe that having alcoholics watching over your every move has caused the prisoners no ill effects? Do the labels on the rum bottles tell drinkers to not operate heavy artillery while under the influence?

But, then, who cares really? As long as the guards are enjoying their party.

Here's Wonkette's recipe for the Gitmojito –

DefenseLINK News will likely inspire a bit more sympathy –

Thursday, June 23, 2005

This I Believe

Now is the time to speak your mind for (nearly) all the world to hear.

National Public Radio has revived "This I Believe," a 1950s radio show hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Listeners are to tell about the beliefs they live by, and host Jay Allison will read them on the air.

The goal of each entry is three glorious minutes of air time, free of editorializing or preaching about things the writers do not believe in. The original show is said to have been positive, encouraging and uplifting, and today's version ought be no different.

In his introduction in 1951, Murrow said:

In this brief space, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker... will write about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.

Harry Truman, Helen Keller and Jackie Robinson were contributors to the original show, and Bill Clinton, Drew Barrymore and Muhammad Ali are some of today's participants, according to USA Weekend. The magazine also wrote:

The producers of "This I Believe" have an ambitious goal: to encourage people of different beliefs to listen to one another.

Sounds great. What could be a tenuously lofty goal for most other members of the media, seems attainable for NPR. Listen in to find out. Visit the Web site to find a local station and to submit your own belief.

FYI: An essay from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is scheduled to be aired Monday, June 27. (This is going to be interesting!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

To read or not to read?

I have heard good things about or otherwise stumbled upon a handful of books that are now being added to my To Read list. They are:

"Horn of Africa" - Philip Caputo
"Acts of Faith" - Philip Caputo
"The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life" - Steve Leveen
"A Lotus Grows in the Mud" - Goldie Hawn
"The Remains of the Day" - Kazuo Ishiguro
"Never Let Me Go" - Kazuo Ishiguro
"Knitting: A Novel" - Anne Bartlett
"Bangkok 8" - John Burdett
"Bangkok Tattoo" - John Burdett

To read or not read? That is the question. Have you read any of these?

The Onion gets sci-fied

The Onion, a very popular and usually pretty entertaining site, today posted as though it was June 22, 2056. The site has a stereotypically futuristic look, complete with that voice found only on rides at Epcot and in 80s vehicles that told you "Your door is ajar."

Despite all of this, or more likely because of it, the information and photos contained therein are quite fun to read and look at. So, skip on over and take a gander - but only if you promise to peek again on a "normal" day, too.

(Psst! Yeah, you! Avert your eyes a few inches above these words. See there, the headline "The Onion gets sci-fied?" That is the link to the Web site. I know, I know most of you were aware of that. But I realize some of you are new to blogs.)

Worthwhile journey

“It is not the goal but the way there that matters, and the harder the way the more worthwhile the journey.”


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Freedom of speech in China

It seems the discussion about truth telling continues. The Chinese government has found a way to severely censor its citizens.

According to USA Today, Microsoft has agreed to block words like democracy, human rights and freedom from its new Internet portal. Should users type in those words, this message will appear: "This item should not contain forbidden speech, such as profanity."

Last year, Google launched a new search engine in China, but its users get different search results than Westerners do. Links to Web sites such as BBC and Voice of America will not appear, because the Chinese government does not approve of some content on those sites.

In 2002, Yahoo China signed what is called a pledge of self-discipline, meaning it will not post "pernicious information that may jeopardize state security."

Is the money that can be made by expanding business in China worth placating a suppressive government and leaving behind the democratic ideals that allowed these American companies to thrive?

Of course, these companies should (as we all should) learn about and acclimate themselves to the cultures in which they are doing business. But true appreciation of a culture usually is born of a genuine interest in the welfare of its people.

These actions show no appreciation of culture or interest in the welfare of the public. It is simply selling out.

  • Podcasting News article

  • CNN article
  • The Church of the Divine Wisdom

    The Church of the Divine Wisdom was built in Instanbul, Turkey in 537 AD. In Turkish it is called Ayasofya, in Greek it is Hagia Sophia, and in Latin it is Sancta Sophia. Thirty million gold tesserae, tiny mosaic tiles, line its interior.


    Since we are in a truth-telling state of mind, let's talk about how much the poverty crisis in Africa has changed in the last 20 years.

    If you were around in 1985, even if you were a youngster, you likely have an inkling of a memory of Live Aid, a concert/fundraiser focused on poverty and famine in Africa. Hugely popular musical acts performed at dual shows in London and Philadelphia and raised $100 million for poor Africans.

    On its 20th anniversary, the concert's founder, Bob Geldof, has found that apparently $100 million was not enough. This time around, there will be no fundraising at the six simultaneous concerts put on around the world (London, Edinburgh, Washington, Berlin, Paris and Rome) on July 2.

    Live8 will be solely about building awareness of the G8 conference July 6-9. Government leaders (from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia) will sit down to discuss many issues, with the challenges facing Africa at the top of their agenda. British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be leading this roundtable.

    The goal of Live8 is to remind those at the G8: the world is watching, and we have high expectations.

    You can buy tickets, listen to the concerts on the radio, watch them online, and learn more about Live8 and the G8 at

    You can also find out more about the issues, make a donation (if you wish), and receive a white latex bracelet (of the Lance Armstrong ilk) that reads, "Make Poverty History," at

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Rising Moon

    A time-lapse sequence of the moon rising over Seattle. (Shay Stephens)

    Speaking and Listening

    Hansell S. Duckett said, "What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to."

    But better still, Kin Hubbard said, "The only way to entertain some folks is to listen to them."

    Perhaps, in this life, we can participate in a healthy mix of both - speaking freely and listening honestly.


    Sakura (cherry blossoms) in Japan.