Yesterday, thousands of students, workers, children and seniors

marched

yelled / chanted / screamed for peace

rallied for freedom

joined together against destruction

meanwhile, fifty-six budding tulips and a field of grass

were nearly trampled to death

and traffic stopped

keeping two newlyweds from getting to the aeroport

and i got birdshit in my eye while I played dead on Granville Street.

Lately I’ve been noding sections of my play An American Book of the Dead - The Game Show: a somewhat tedious and relatively thankless task; but I’m doing it because this play, more than any other I’ve written, says what I want to say-- what I have to say-- about this country——because I love it so much in spite of what I believe to be its worst nature currently playing out on the world scene.

I implore my fellow Everythinginans of other nations to understand that, at our best, Americans are better than what they are currently seeing and hearing on the news. This nation is in a crisis, the seeds of which were planted long before the current administration's decision to go to war to distract the electorate from its failed domestic policies. Indeed, the seeds were planted even before the current administration came to power through means so obviously dubious that even some of the most ardent Right Wing noders feel compelled to admit as much. We are an overly prideful people. De Tocqueville recognized this, as have many other visitors to this country. Even I, an open Leftist, have trouble not wearing my pride as an American on my sleeve. There’s so much to love about this place: its inherent physical beauty; its easy courage and generosity; its delicious blend of cultures that has given us jazz, and baseball, and Cajun cuisine, etc.; its astounding ranks of heroes from Harriet Tubman to Walt Whitman to Audie Murphy (all of whom, and others, I write about in the play I mentioned above).

Even now, I’ll make no excuses for this country: it goes against my grudging patriotic grain; but I’ll admit that this is easily one of our darkest hours. I’ll make a prediction though: something from that which makes this country great will prevail. I am not wise or prescient enough to know what it is, but I am hopelessly optimistically American enough to believe that it will be so. The bastards don’t always win. There will be outcomes to this conflict that neither illegitimate regime can predict or hope for. Here’s to the American people and the Iraqi people! May they both find leaders more worthy of their humanity.

On a different note, I think I’m gonna give up playwriting for a while, forever maybe. Who knows? I could offer a bunch of reasons: the war has taken the wind out of my sails, I’m sick to death of bitchy critics that never have anything better to offer, I’m busy taking care of my baby boy, I’m tired, I’m sick and tired.

I’ve gone through fallow periods before, and there’s always been someone who’s said to me, “Oh, you’ll never give up writing for good. You have to write. You couldn’t stop if you tried.” I know they mean this as some sort of flattery, but I hate it just the same. To me this is a description of addiction. I have never wanted to be the kind of artist who churned out product no matter what, without fail, without pause. I don’t begrudge my colleagues who work like this, but for me, if there’s no option of keeping quiet for a while, or forever, then everything I say is suspect, coming as it does from a place of neurosis and compulsion rather than genuine inspiration.

So maybe I’ll continue to jabber here, and node my plays, for petty archival purposes, if nothing else. And maybe I’ll find the quiet courage to drop completely out of earshot here, there, and everywhere, until and unless I have something meaningful to say.

Another course of the mystic travellers, on dusty ill-kept roads illuminated by the elegance of angular pulsation, muttered contemplation (under the breath, will the clock strike?). And for this they earn all respect, all struggling quotations of meaning afracture; and yet, something underneath seems hopeful and I arm my mind as I only know how to. They say there's a certain time of life, consequental moments of convergence at all its force. This is that time. Though by which telling, and of which variation, I do not know. Struggling, afloat and always conflicted.

Are the owls what they seem?
Has the eagle landed?
Next stop on the transhuman express:
convergence point of alternative universality thunderdome!

What if this isn't happening at all? Why don't they get the pillsbury dough boy to speak out on the war? What would an iguana do? What if he turns out to be a ham sandwich? Comandeer all transdynamic vehicles with beeswax and totem poles, spun pummelt with caustic exactitude, andover mindsilence.. you know, like slurpees in the winter... These are the flaws that lie in having a single point funnel of a hierarchy. Information is prevailant in his position. And the manipulation and application of that information
The enemy wears many faces. Along with the fool, he is the tyrant, the cowboy, and the horse's ass. I believe he is aware of each of these facades and uses them to his own gain.
I am an igloo. My fires are hot though my ice will not melt. Like in Animal Crossing.
These passive, objective summaries do nothing to further the intellectual quotient of mankind. Let us eat our tails and spill our bile over all.

just because the corner i'm in is comfortable
doesn't mean i'm comfortable in the corner I am in
even if the corner is a happy corner
even if the corner is makes me feel right
it's still a corner, and i'm still backed in.

Smoke and Mirrors

Those who try to tell me that I am not “supporting our troops”, if I do not support this war, are using Smoke and Mirrors - and they clearly know it. They can try all they want - to try that on me, it will not work. It may work for others who have Nam guilt - but I am a bit to young for Nam guilt - I was pre-teen when my two brothers and the rest of the Nam vets were coming home.

I have gone through some extreme measures over the years to thank our Nam vets and to give them a Welcome home. I will and have many times crossed a street... to shake the hand and thank a Nam vet. I ride the local transit bus and any time I see someone with a veteran’s hat or anything else indicating they are a vet - I will walk over and offer them my hand and thank them. Sometimes they are surprised; sometimes they seem taken aback by it, but they all seem to 'get it'. I spent about 14 hours last Veterans Day writing to the Nam vets on AOL, each with a personal message based on what I'd read in their profile. I sent a hundred or so of these messages - 1/4th were deleted so they never got my special message... (They assumed it was junk mail no matter how hard I tried to make sure they wouldn't via the personalized subject... most junk mailers do the same on AOL). Many of the others were extremely touched, some of their responses made me cry - and will never be forgotten. I also did volunteer work for the WDVA (Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs) . I could go on but I think you get my point by now.

Smoke and Mirrors

So this desperate attempt to guilt us into supporting the war because if we do not, “we do not support the troops” - is all smoke and mirrors, and total bullshit and will not WORK for me personally. Unlike the last "Gulf War" which I did not see as a war, all I saw in that - was thousands more who will use up what little resources our Nam vets have when 9/10ths of them never saw a dead body, or went through the living hell our Nam vets went through. No offense to any Gulf War 1 vets reading this, but this is how I feel.... If you feel that you went through even 1/5th of what our Nam vets did, then that last comment is not about you.

I do NOT have to agree with this war based on a political agenda I disagree with - in order to support our troops who are over there doing their duty and truly putting their lives on the line. And I personally find it offensive that people will USE the guilt Americans feel over the Nam shame, to gain support for this war.

Smoke and Mirrors

You can say whatever you want to say, I know who I am and what's in my heart... and I do support these troops... and I think there's a good chance (unfortunately) they will have alot in common with our Nam vets and deserve the same benefits our Nam vets have (or SHOULD have!!) but I do NOT have to agree with Dictator Bush's personal agenda in order to support our troops... your Smoke and Mirrors game won't work on me. Because I walk the walk and talk the talk and I love our Nam vets and I've taken alot more time to prove it then many of those using these Smoke and Mirrors for their own agenda.

Smoke and Mirrors

If your one of these using this pathetic scam - using our Nam vets for your agenda... ask yourself how many times you've walked across the street to shake the hand of a Nam vet? How many times have you found a way to thank them - show your appreciation on a day besides Veterans Day? If you can't answer the same way I can then shame on YOU - you don't support our Vets - you use them for your own personal agenda to prove your point. If you have walked the walk and are now using them for your personal agenda, ask yourself - did you agree with what went down in Nam?? No? But you can still show your thanks and appreciation for those who were there and went through living hell (and many still are today) - for their country.

Oh and yes I am aware that some people will wear a Veterans hat - who are not real vets... I'm not naive. But I'd rather shake the hand of 1 "fake vet" and 5 "real Vets" then use that skepticism to avoid doing the right thing and thanking and welcoming home our vets.

Now I suppose the Smoke and Mirror users are probably wondering why I’d post this if it’s not working on me... and I’m not feeling guilt? It’s because it makes me very angry personally that you are using our Nam vets and the injustices done to them to further your cause or your case. You can give me your little downvote - I really don’t care - I love our Nam vets and I wish you had enough respect for them to not use them for your personal agenda to prove a point. Your baselsess claim that those who do not support this war - at this time - in this situation, are "not supporting our troops" - disgusts me. Have a nice War.

Smoke and Mirrors

"...and the Fool on the hill sees the sun going down
and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round..."

J. Lennon / P. McCartney


Another day, another few points of blood pressure lost watching Rumsfeld's Follies. The Agonist, an excellent warblog, provoked me into expanding on my last rant regarding the war. I include it here since it may not make it onto the Blog itself.

Three Layers: A not-so-clean analysis of the war in Iraq so far

The war in Iraq is progressing, and probably the only thing we as regular citizens can be sure of is that despite the less-than-heroic efforts of the mass media, we *do not know* what is happening. History of war tells us that the only constant in war is confusion - the so-called 'Fog of War' - that guarantees that even those fighting it and coordinating it won't know precisely what happened until afterwards.

The problem is that the U.S. Presidential Administration and, perforce, the U.S. media fomented the expectation that information would be available to the U.S. forces (and, incidentally, the media and the citizen) in unprecedented quickness and volume. Ergo, we're left with the unpleasant scene of a professional military officer fielding inane questions from poorly-prepared media correspondents about subjects which he knows perfectly well he either can't give or more often just doesn't know the answer to.

Having said all this, I'd like to jump in with both feet and offer three layers of analysis on the basis of what information we do have. I'll hit this as the Political, Strategic and Tactical levels, and I'll try to stick with concrete examples. With no further ado, on we go.

While the Administration may have a grand strategy for the conduct and goals of this war, they haven't made it clear to the average citizen. "Regime change in Baghdad" doesn't count. A grand strategy needs to define what the desired end state is, how it is to happen (events leading to it) and what actions need to be taken in order to make events turn out this way. The Bush administration isn't doing too well on this; as far as one can tell, the desired endstate is 'depose Saddam Hussein and install a more (insert friendly/fuzzy adjective here) government in Iraq.' There are loads of conditions on how it must be done, too: 1) minimize U.S. casualties. 2) minimize civilian casualties. 3) minimum amount of time. 4) resource restrictions (which I'll get to in a moment).

The conduct of the war is still a matter of secrecy and chaos; I'll stick to two trends that can be seen by examining patterns across lots of information pieces. Those trends are 'speed' and 'efficiency.' The U.S. forces (and, hence, the 'Coalition' forces) are attempting to prosecute the war at a high speed of their own choosing, using minimum forces to achieve their goals. The entire 'race to Baghdad' is a graphic example of this. The question is, why are they obsessed with speed? This is where things get murky.

Things to consider: there are cites that various folks in the military, from the soldiers up, are expressing 'surprise' that the Iraqis are resisting at all, much less as fiercely as they are. The administration has, since the earliest days of its life, been intent on carrying out this action with a minimum of resources - a limit even smaller than the limit imposed by the downsizing of the U.S. force structure. The '40,000 troops' limit imposed by Cheney/Rumsfeld onto Gen. Franks, when initial plans were drawn, is the most compelling evidence of this. Despite frequent statements that there are '300K' coalition troops in theater, this in no way translates to 300K 'trigger-pullers.' Even in unit terms, we are way below the days of Gulf War I.

The strategy (not grand strategy, now, but specific strategy) appears to be one of 'generating an Iraqi collapse' and, if that fails, to utilize superior technology to destroy their forces. This is not necessarily a bad strategy. However, the conditions that have changed since the opening of the war seem to indicate that they are not very tightly linked. To wit, since the opening, information has dried up; military personnel have expressed surprise at the unfolding events, and political figures such as Geoff Hoon (I know, I know) and Donald Rumsfeld have been unable to offer any response other than 'We'll win. This is certain.' Sure, we will - but at what cost, and in how long?

Let me jump to specific events for a moment, some of which I've already ranted about. The decapitation strike, the quick start to a ground offensive, the 'limbo' of the 4th Infantry Division, the loss of Turkey, the setback at Al Nasiriya, the continued security problems in the rear all offer some information. The decapitation strike, as far as I can tell, appears to have thrown off the timetable for the beginning of the war. We are told that it occurred after a four-hour, unplanned meeting of the U.S. President and his staff, following which the decision was made. Let's look at this for a moment. The military was already working up for an attack. The deadlines had already expired. There was indication that Saddam might move if they waited. What could possibly require a 4-hour argument or convincing session to hash out? The most likely answer is that two or more of the factors were in conflict, and the two most likely to me are the military's timetable and the possibility of losing Saddam to relocation. In other words, the argument was whether to attempt the decapitation strike before the military's previously-agreed upon timetable showed us to be ready to attack. The reason for this? In order to avoid the attack being portrayed as an 'assassination attempt,' we needed to be at war with Iraq. That meant the strike would trigger the expectations of a world, an enemy and a domestic populace that had been led to believe that this would be an 'overwhelming' strike that would happen at a 'time of our choosing.'

So, in sum, the decap strike seems to have meant the war started before the 'go point' in the original plan. At the time, the 4th infantry division was still at sea; we hadn't secured overflight much less basing rights from Turkey, on which depended the mass of the Northern front, and the 101st hadn't yet completed unloading its equipment. But we went anyway, because the administration needed the war to start to take the decap strike shot.

Move onward. We are treated to scenes of U.S. units moving quickly (and in military terms, 25 MPH constant is REALLY fast) across the desert. They are moving so quickly, we are told, that they are bypassing less-important objectives and aiming for Baghdad. In other words, they are leaving less-than-secure rear areas as they attempt a blitzkrieg into Iraq. The problem is that blitzkrieg depends on the collapse of the enemy, otherwise the initial thrust cannot be supported logistically; if the logistics aren't secure, then blitzkrieg tends to morph into a more conventional attack (attacking forces vs. command, supply and control assets) with the 'front' hopefully far enough in that the defender hasn't had a chance to fortify that line.

This fits well with what we're seeing. The U.S. forces may have made significant advances, but recall that everything we had been told indicated that the 'real fight' would come vs. the Republican Guard, and those forces had been pulled back to defend Baghdad. ergo, we didn't *expect* the initial thrust to engage them. However, keeping up that pace seems to have exposed our lines of communication and left substantial enemy free to maneuver behind our front-line forces. The exposed LAV unit, the logistics units coming under attack, and the stubborn guerrilla defense of Umm Qasr and Basra are all examples. While Umm Qasr and Basra might be argued to have been 'bypassable', the former two are harder to explain - unless speed was of the essence.

Moving on, the Apache battle. We are now told that ATACMS and air support engaged the RG tanks as well - but not until after the Apaches got there. Why? The Apaches are designed to kill tanks, true enough - but on a maneuver battlefield *or* by surprise from longer range. They don't have the survivability to engage over long periods of time deep inside a determined AAA defense. The Longbow upgrade was designed specifically to increase the 'fire and forget' nature of the Apache, as well as increase its lethal range - yet we're told that Apaches were returning having been unable to get in to make their Hellfire Longbow shots on the tanks themselves, indicating that the defenses of those tanks were fairly heavy, and more important, well spaced - the command helo was taking fire some 10 miles out from the objective. Two Apaches were lost. Why wasn't more scouting done to determine the AAA threat? Why wasn't fast-mover airpower used to soften up the target, or at least expose the air defenses, before sending in the attack helos? Again, there is a sense of a rush - we are told that when the first attack took place, only 90 helos were within range of the target, but a day later, some 130+ are.

So, we're in a hurry. Why? One possibility: We're in a hurry because we think this speed and shock will make the enemy collapse with the least casualties and collateral damage required. The 'shock and awe' campaign seems to indicate this is at least partly the reason. Perhaps we can't let the war, and hence those casualties and damage, drag on for fear of compromising our objectives. However, if this was the case, we should see a robust backup plan that involved changing to a more steady, conventional assault with more firepower should the 'blitz' falter; also, we should see the maximum resources allocated to this task, since the more combat power, the more likely we are to succeed.

This poses problems. We've already seen that the U.S. military had to fight to get the troop deployments they did; in addition, they had to start without some of the resources they likely assumed they'd have (101st, 4ID). So, wouldn't it make sense that they'd move to a more conservative plan? You'd think so. The reasons they wouldn't? One, Washington won't let them, or two, they don't think they *have* the resources to carry out this war in a slower, more conventional fashion - at least, not without being told they're failing, taking too many casualties, killing too many civilians, etc. This is what worries me - the feeling that the pace of the war and the methods by which it's being fought are being driven not by military requirements and operational methods, but by political restrictions - and this is a recipe for disaster. Political (i.e. Administration strategic) objectives and considerations should by all means drive the goals of the war, and the timetables of the war - but shouldn't ALSO drive the means and methods of the military planners on the ground! If they do, then what we're saying is that the president and his advisors really don't need the JCS to provide an operations plan; they just need the military to do what they're told and 'be here by this day, using this.'

This is the sort of trouble that we got into in Vietnam. Ambiguous goals ('stabilize the regime', 'defeat the guerrillas') political micro-restrictions (one year rotations, ROE limitations on individual air campaigns, etc.) I'm not saying that this will turn into Vietnam; far from it. I believe that we have the forces, the power, and the people to defeat Saddam Hussein's Iraq. I'm just saying that the defeat might not end up looking at all like what the Administration, the press, the citizenry and the rest of the world thought it would look like. It might require heavy airstrikes on uncleared areas; it might require large numbers of US casualties, it might require much more time than initially thought (or, at least, inferred by observer nations and peoples), it might require additional combat forces, which in turn require time, money, political costs, etc. Any or all of these are likely outcomes.

Given the lack of foresight which the Bush administration has applied to the diplomatic preparations for war, and the reverses they seem to keep suffering and then declaring irrelevant (the UN, Turkey, Saudi Arabia public basing rights,etc) this doesn't make me easy in the mind. Mostly because I fear that our services, and the men and women that make them up, will end up paying a disproportionate price, in terms of blood, blame, and/or bucks.

I also worry that the consequences of the war escaping its 'planned shape' will have potentially catastrophic results on the shape of the Middle East as a whole - winning the war only to lose the peace entirely.

</rant> ...we now return you to your regularly scheduled daylog.

Suicides in Australia are rarely ever reported in the news or in the papers. The media feels that this only glorifies the suicidal person's death and urges more suicidal tendencies in other people to go through with the act. There were more than 50 suicides in 9 years on the Gateway Bridge when the news media covered the incidents. The news media now restricts their coverage of the act to mass suicides, suicides by public figures, bizarre cases, statistical run downs on type, places, age groups, and other aspects of legitimate matters of public interest and concerns.

With all this in mind, you wonder how they find the families of those who commit these acts. You wonder what goes through their head as they grasp their final breath and see their last few seconds pass them by. You wonder what could of drove them to the breaking point to go through with this preconceived notion that knowingly robs their families of their lives.

My spouse rode her bike to work today across the Story Bridge. On the way another cyclist who we’ll call Jane stopped her. Jane asked my spouse whether or not she had a mobile phone on her and directed her to the side railing of the bridge. There she found a folded up coat and glasses neatly placed on top. "I think we got a jumper," Jane had said. Jane and her looked over the edge and saw a young man, no more than 20 years of age lying at the bottom on the pavement. A compound fracture and no movement told the two there was nothing they could do. My spouse called the ambulance that only confirmed their suspicions.

The incident of suicide among young people in Australia is extremely high. There are help lines and most Universities offer counseling services. I would hope that more people seek help before seeking an ultimate decision that results in taking their own lives and, inversely, those of the ones they love.

I have posted my feelings on the war and what I feel about the situation currently going on. I'm going to stray away from that and return to a normal daylog.

On Friday of last week, the loan department decided to move cubicles around and had Custer in to move everything and get things setup and back in working condition. As thing were halfway apart, I got the phone call, "Umm, we are moving things around up here and wondered if there were data and phone lines were the new offices were going to be." The answer is of course not, there are never lines where the new offices are going to be.

So I had to kludge a solution together while we waitied for the company to come out and run the lines and patch everything in. How come it is always like this. No matter where I work, people move and then expect to magically be connected to the network. I guess everyone assumes there are wires all over the place? Is it like this at everyones work?

Frustrated

Today's Headlines

US News

Michigan Girl Found Unharmed
Thanks to an alert delivery driver who tipped authorities, a 14-year- old Michigan girl missing for nearly a month was found unharmed Monday in rural Lassen County, California and her alleged abductor was arrested without incident. After her rescue, Lindsey Ryan told authorities that she was glad the ordeal was over, and her family members are flying to California today for a reunion. Her captor, 56- year-old Terry Drake, spent 16 years in prison after murdering a woman in Indiana in 1977. He had met the girl at church and then corresponded with her over the Internet. "We're so thankful for everybody's efforts," the girl's mother, Carol Ryan, told The Chronicle. "We're so glad you ran this story out in California."

Groups Lose Wiretap Challenge
An effort by a coalition of civil liberties groups to bring a Supreme Court challenge to the government's use of expanded surveillance authority under a post-9/11 statute failed today. The justices, without comment, refused to permit the groups to file an appeal from a ruling by a special federal appeals court that the Patriot Act granted broad new authority to use wiretaps obtained for intelligence operations to prosecute terrorists. The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and two Arab-American groups needed the court's permission to file their appeal because under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act only the government can file Supreme Court appeals in wiretap law decisions.

Man Confesses To 1957 Police Slayings
In a surprise confession that brought to an end to a 46 year old murder case, a retired South Carolina gas station owner pleaded guilty yesterday to killing two Los Angeles-ariea police officers in El Segundo officers Milton Curtis and Richard Phillips on July 22, 1957 after they stopped him for a traffic violation. "I don't understand why I did this," Mason said, offering a tearful apology to the families of the victims and members of the El Segundo Police Department. "I feel like I am dreaming. It makes no sense. It's contrary to everything I believe."

International News

First Steps In Battle of Baghdad Underway
Coalition forces are using air power, helicopters, and artillery to "beat down those Republican Guard positions" before ground troops move into place for the upcoming battle for Baghdad said US General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this morning. "We've never said it's going to be quick, we've never said it's going to be easy, you've never heard those words come out of officials here at the Pentagon," he said. "War is tough and it's going to be a tough fight. But it's a worthy fight." This came after reports of fierce clashes between Apache helicopters and Iraqi Republican Guard units south of Baghdad.

Blair To Meet Bush, Annan To Hold Summit In US
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is scheduled to leave for the United States on Wednesday to meet with US President George W. Bush at Camp David, then meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday. Blair said his discussions would not just concern the progress of the war but also relief projects and the future of Iraq. "It is to discuss the humanitarian situation and the important and complex issues that have to be addressed in the post-Saddam era," Blair told reporters at 10 Downing Street. "I will see President Bush at Camp David to discuss not just the military campaign... (but) how we get America and Europe working together again as partners and not as rivals."

Straw Warns Turkey About Iraq
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has joined the United States government in strongly urging Turkey not to send troops into northern Iraq. Straw acknowledged the anxiety of Turkey in terms of the possibility of Kurdish refugees coming from northern Iraq, but stressed that the current situation is much different than the 1991 situation that resulted in a mass exodus of Kurds from Iraq into Turkey, Syria, and Jordan. "It would not serve their interests if there were to be any aggressive military action taken by Turkish forces," Straw said. "The Turkish government has played a constructive role in trying to calm tensions between Turkish community on one side of the border and the Kurdish community on the other."

Business

Stocks Tumble On War Concerns
The euphoria that gripped Wall Street last week wore off on Monday as investors realized that the war in Iraq might not be so quick after all. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 355 points, thus following its best week in two decades with its worst day of the year. The Nasdaq fell 52.06 points as well, a 3.7% loss, while the Standard & Poors 500 fell 31.56 points, or 3.5%, signifying an across-the-board weakness. The selling occurred as a result of news of allied forces encountering significant resistance in Iraq, causing many investors to cash in on the euphoria that gripped the markets last week.

Home Loan News Mixed
In the fourth quarter of last year, the percentage of US homeowners involved in foreclosure reached a record high, but the total percentage of homeowners behind on their mortgages fell sharply. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that 1.18 percent of all home loans were in foreclosure, a formal process that can run from 90 days in some states to more than two years in others. The previous quarterly record was 1.15 percent, reached in the third quarter of 2002. Meanwhile, mortgage delinquencies dipped to 4.53 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 4.67 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001. These numbers seem to indicate that banks are generally becoming more serious about foreclosures and dealing with regularly-delinquent payers.

Levi Strauss Posts Loss
Levi Strauss recorded a net loss in the first fiscal quarter, mostly as a result of higher interest expenses and reduced sales in North America. Levi Strauss, maker of denim jeans and other casual clothing reported a net loss of $24.5 million for the period ended February 23, 2003, compared to a net income of $42.5 million for the year-earlier period. Levi Strauss is a privately-held company with no publicly traded shares. "We said the first half of the year would be difficult, but the first quarter was even tougher than we predicted," Chief Executive Phil Marineau said in a statement.

Science & Technology

Red Hat To Release Version 9.0
Red Hat announced the latest version of their operating system, numbered 9.0, would be released on April 7, 2003, but in an interesting move, the company is making ISO images of the release available to paid subscribers of the Red Hat Network seven days earlier on March 31, 2003. The move was surprising in many ways, including Red Hat's sudden jump from version 8.0 to 9.0 of its Linux distribution, as well as the surprising (but business-sensible) decision to offer the distribution a week early to network subscribers. Red Hat hopes to cause new subscribers to join the network to take advantage of the offer.

NASA Plans To Reuse Current Shuttles Until 2020
Despite the break-up of the shuttle Columbia, the three other shuttles in the NASA fleet may be needed until 2020, a top NASA official said Monday. Major General Michael Kostelnik, the NASA deputy associate administrator for the space station and space shuttle programs, said the shuttle could become a cargo vehicle if the job of ferrying astronauts was turned over to the orbital space plane, which is scheduled to go into service in 2012. He added that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration could cut the risks in later years, when the shuttles will be approaching 40 years old, by flying with fewer astronauts or none at all if a planned orbital space plane is ready.

Hotmail Sets Email Caps
Microsoft is capping the amount of email users can send using their Hotmail accounts in a bid to crack down on spam. In a statement sent to many Hotmail users, the company said: "In an effort to prevent spammers from using MSN Hotmail to spread spam, MSN Hotmail recently began further limiting the number of outgoing messages a user can send each day. MSN is strongly committed to helping stop the widespread problem of spam and this change is one way we are preventing spammers from using Hotmail to spread spam." Under this new policy, users will be barred from sending emails to more than 100 e-mail addresses in a 24-hour period.

Health

Antibody Cocktail "Spice" Will Prevent Foodborne Germs
Researchers in Canada are developing a natural antibody cocktail that can help prevent the most common foodborne germs, including E. coli and salmonella, which cause thousands to become sick or die each year. Derived from freeze-dried egg yolk, the substance is nicknamed a "spice" because it can be sprinkled or sprayed onto meats, fruits and vegetables to complement existing sanitation protocols; the "spice" does not alter the taste of food. "This spice represents a safe, easy and inexpensive way to enhance your protection against deadly germs that attack humans via food. One day, it will be found in everyone's spice cabinet," says Hoon Sunwoo, chief investigator in the study and a food chemist at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Damages Learning Ability Of Fetus
Children born to mothers who use marijuana during pregnancy may suffer a host of lasting mental defects, suggests a new study in rats. The offspring of pregnant rats given a low dose of cannabinoid were found to perform poorly in learning tests throughout their lives, compared to rats that were not exposed. Vincenzo Cuomo, at the La Sapienza University in Rome, and colleagues suggest that similar brain effects could explain learning problems in children born to mothers who use the soft drug during pregnancy. In the study, pregnant rats were injected with a low dose of an artificial cannabinoid. Offspring exposed to the drug during gestation showed hyperactivity during infancy and adolescence, as measured by how many times they broke infrared beams crisscrossing their cages.

Sports

FIFA Enraged Over Substitution Farce
The use of two teams by England in its 3-1 loss to Australia last month has prompted FIFA president Sepp Blatter to plan a five-substitute limit for friendly soccer internationals. Blatter went so far as to describe the wholesale changes made by England coach Sven Goran Eriksson against the Australians last month as a "farce". Erikkson used one lineup for the first half of the match, then switched to an entirely different lineup for the second half of the match. "It's wrong. It's better if you don't play," Blatter said. "This is a matter I will bring to the attention of the (rule-making) international board. It was a farce. It's not correct for the opponent, but definitely not correct for the public. They pay for a match between England, the best team, and Australia. In the second half, you have another team. It's not correct."

Calvin Klein Interferes In Knicks Win Over Raptors
The New York Knicks defeated the Toronto Raptors 100-90 last night at Madison Square Garden in a game that featured an odd interference by fashion designer Calvin Klein. Late in the fourth quarter, as Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell was about to launch an inbound pass, Calvin Klein, a regular on the sidelines at New York Knicks games, walked up to Sprewell and began to talk to him. Security escorted Klein from the court. After the game, Sprewell said "No, I wasn't nervous. I was a little surprised, like is security going to come over here at some point or what? I didn't know that was him."

Entertainment

Outcry Against Michael Moore's Anti-Government Comments At Academy Awards
A number of people and groups have stepped forward to air their disagreement with documentary maker Michael Moore's anti-government comments made during his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards on Sunday, at which Moore received an award for best documentary for Bowling For Columbine. During the speech, Moore railed against a "fictitious" President Bush, "fictitious election results," and the War on Iraq, which he claimed was for "fictitious reasons," finishing by saying "We live in fictitious times." The comments are being viewed by many as highly inappropriate and indicative of a Hollywood culture that is out of touch with the general sentiment of the nation.

NBC Gets Chicago
In an unusual and very timely deal, NBC yesterday announced that it had secured the broadcast rights for the Academy Award-winning Chicago, and that the film would begin showing on NBC and Bravo in fall 2005. The move is considered unusual because the window doesn't open for the film for another two and a half years, and also comes at a time when networks are shying away from paying top dollar for the broadcast rights to films. However, in the words of Jeff Zucker, NBC Entertainment president, "We don't buy many theatrical movies any more, but this one we had to have. It's a perfect fit for both NBC and Bravo."


And Now, Some Typical Daylog Fare

For those of you who are interested, I picked up a domain name of my own and added a web site to it that I plan to fill in with a great deal of background information about myself. I'd encourage you to visit the site and give me feedback, either here or using the contact page on the site. The URL is:

http://www.writedream.net

I am still fixing up a few things, so if you occasionally see a text block out of place, that just means I'm actively at work fixing things up.


Lent Diary, Day 21

In my daylog for February 19, 2003, I outlined my plan for a challenging Lenten discipline: no food or water during daylight hours. Visit that daylog for more details.

I took a long walk yesterday afternoon, walking somewhere between five and six miles. It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon in northern Iowa, a warm day with only the faintest edges of chill in the air as the day progressed towards evening.

Everyone knows that well-known piece entitled Footprints in the Sand. I often feel that way on long walks, particularly when I'm in an isolated area, crossing a corn field or walking through the woods. I don't really feel alone at all, although I am the only person around.

I am never truly alone, I guess, but there are little moments in time where I feel a separate presence at my side, guiding me and just simply supporting me when I need it.

And without that support, I never would have been able to achieve the discipline.

My first write-up on E2.

This is my first day on E2. There are a lot of nice people on here. It's cool to see how many people are willing to help me out.

My brother (Inflatable_Monk) suggested this site to me after I told him I would like to keep a journal of my day. I suppose I'll start off by telling you all a little about me.

I'm 20 and still live at home (though it hardly feels like I'm ever there). I work for a grocery store called Baker's and spend most of my time working there and going to college part time. I'm a Christian, but from what I've heard, not as vocal about it as my brother.

Today was the usual stuff I usually have to put up with, but as I was checking, a woman came through my line. She comes to the store a lot. She is very beautiful and has a very pretty smile. One thing that was very distinguishable though was a bruise she had under her eye. I didn't think about much as I was checking her out, but then I remember about a week ago when she came in and she had a broken finger. I asked her what happened to her eye and she told me the usual answer of, "I fell."

All of a sudden a gentlemen a little bit shorter then I and a whole lot skinnier, came up to her and showed affection.
So this is the boyfriend. I thought.

Soon the women couldn't find her credit card and the boyfriend was getting impatient. He started speaking in a loud voice.
"What's the matter with you? You're always losing something!"

She didn't say anything, but I could tell by the look in her eyes she was thinking, Not here. Not now.

They quickly loaded up the cart and they were gone as quickly as they came in. I was left wondering Should I have said something? What could I have done? How many people in this world see these kind of things happening and choose to ignore it like I did like it's none of their business. Little bouts like that in a grocery store may seem small, but they may turn into bigger things and by the looks of the bruise under her eye, that lady had already encountered the "bigger thing". Next time, I won't sit back.

I feel rather proud of myself.

My mum, feeling a sudden urge to become a best-selling author, has acquired an Apple Powerbook from that purveyor of all things computery and cheap, eBay. Having let her have my rather old Performa as well, I set myself the task of networking the pair.

It's been a while since I've used a Mac, and certainly a long time since I've prodded through System 7. Still, I thought I may as well give it a go. Not having manuals was a slight downside, but hey, who needs manuals, right?

I really could have used at least one of the blasted things.

What followed was half an hour's plugging in of cables (to ethernet or localtalk?), poking through the Help files, and frantic disc swapping as extensions appeared, disappeared, and ran amok seemingly of their own accord. Finding myself running out of memory halfway through was a nice touch, too.

Finally, eventually, it all comes together. Open up the Chooser, choose Appletalk, and bingo. There they are, talking away like they were like it all along. Yes.

I love this job

So I open up my copy of the Jerusalem Post this morning and I start reading an article entitled "New Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Heralds Real Change." Knowing that, in all likelyhood, this was just another ploy of the The Myth of the Liberal Media to make me beleive that the PA wasn't a giant mistake, so I began to let my eyes wander around the page. The next article, which I noticed with even less surprise than normal, was entitled "70% of Palestinians Approve of Suicide Bombers, a New Study Shows." Normally almost completely immune to Irony, I nevertheless glanced back at the previous article. The two headlines were literally right next to one another.

I was somewhat amused by this, until I realized that an editor had to actually approve this page layout. I checked, and it turns out that this wasn't even the editorial page. Maybe other papers have split personalities, but you'd think that they could at least alternate pages! I know that Israel isn't the most normal country in the world, but I though they might at least figure out what their opinions were before publishing a newspaper.

In conclusion, the media bias I keep hearing about is obviously wrong: The media isn't Liberal or conservative, It's just crazy.

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