Wednesday, April 26, 2006

News Notes:

Ah, the glories of privatization:

Reported via Juan Cole who links to the story in Mercury News (under a post dated April 24):

"Some of the civilian firms supplying "military support services" at US military bases in Iraq have been using slave labor. This report confines itself to speaking of "human trafficking" and "confiscated passports," but it is obviously talking about slavery pure and simple. I have long been against all the boondoggles of corporate socialism in the defense industries, whereby jobs that could be done efficiently and inexpensively by GIs are farmed out as pork barrel patronage to private firms, who do them inefficiently and very expensively. And, it turns out that the corruption in Iraq among American "contractors" has been mind-boggling. But even I could not have imagined slavery."

Ah, so glad we kicked those commies in the patoosky:

Democracy Now interviewed Antonia Juhasz about her new book, "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time" yesterday. She notes the following in the interview (you can read the whole transcript on the Democracy Now link):

"Currently, 150 U.S. corporations have received $50 billion worth of contracts, as you said in the introduction, to utterly fail in reconstruction in Iraq, but the money has still been granted. And Mahdi is the person who advanced Paul Bremer's one hundred orders in Iraq that opened up the economy. But more importantly to the Bush administration, he is the person who has most aggressively pushed their agenda for a new oil law in Iraq, which would open up Iraq’s oil sector, the vast majority of Iraq's oil sector, to private foreign corporate investment."

She continues:

" . . . it’s a myth that there was not a post-war planning done by the Bush administration. The reason why it failed was because the interests it was serving were U.S. multinationals, not reconstruction in Iraq.

That plan was ready two months before the invasion. It was written by BearingPoint, Inc., a company based in Virginia that received a $250 million contract to rewrite the entire economy of Iraq. It drafted that new economy. That new economy was put into place systematically by L. Paul Bremer, the head of the occupation government of Iraq for 14 months, who implemented exactly one hundred orders, basically all of which are still in place today. And everyone who is watching who is familiar with the policies of the World Trade Organization, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Bank, the I.M.F., will understand the orders.

They implement some of the most radical corporate globalization ideas, such as free investment rules for multinational corporations. That means corporations can enter Iraq, and they essentially don't have to contribute at all to the economy of Iraq. The most harmful provision thus far has been the national treatment provision, which meant that the Iraqis could not give preference to Iraqi companies or workers in the reconstruction, and therefore, U.S. companies received preference in the reconstruction. They hired workers who weren't even from Iraq, in most cases, and utterly bungled the reconstruction."

Your tax dollars at work! And it gets worse, much much worse. As I said, you can read the whole transcript at Democracy Now.

Ah, that good old American sense of fair play at work:

Please check out Juan Cole's post today. He is the current object of a smear campaign by the WSJ (which stands for Wimps Saber Jiggling) and please, if you know his work, write a letter in support of him and against the lies and falsehoods of the commentator (Mr. Fund) who is misusing an enormous public platform to slander a well-respected public intellectual and scholar, and who stands in a relatively defenseless situation.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Catitude Dancing.

This was our cat Miss Artemis. We picked her up at the Providence Animal Rescue League on December 26th, 1989. She passed away on July 23, 2004. She went not only by Artemis, but most frequently by Arty, Arty-Barty-Boos, Barts, the Bartster, Bartys of the Bunny Fur (she always had bunny fur!), What-a-puss-plata-puss, Buddah Puff, and Lard Butt.

We brought her home when she was just five weeks old and covered with fleas. It was at this time that she came to learn to enjoy baths (yes, baths!)

From the start she was a hellion and she idolized Bill the Cat. "Aaachthppppt! Kiss the devil, kiss the devil! I snort the nose Lucifer, banana banana!"

She also had her pensive and reflective side . . .

"Where do the little birdies go when they die Miss Artemis?" "Sandwiches - next question!"

Dignified and stately, she could also be a doofus who periodically got high on the scent of old shoes . . . She also adored catnip and charging into paper bags in which she played hide and seek . . .

In August of 1990 Miss Drusilla entered Arty's life and ours. She passed away on April 3, 2006 . . .

Drusilla loved to eat (don't let her lithe figure fool you), as this half eaten pick, with HE also in the photo, shows . . .

The Drusters was a fat happy cat, whose hobbies included sleeping, eating and more sleeping! (On the whole, cats sleep sooo much that death for a cat really isn't much different from life for a cat, just fewer visits to the litter box!) She also was the scourge of house plants and Christmas trees. One year I came home to find her perched in the middle of our holiday tree; that night I awoke to find that she had conveyed all the soft ornaments (miniature knit stockings, etc.) from the tree and set them on our bed. Decorum prohibits my telling what happened to the tinsel . . . .

Drusilla was an occasional reader of the Classics . . .

While they were enthusiastic Hellenists, somehow Latin always put them to sleep . . . though the sound of my printer was always good for a game of "paw the dissertation while dad prints chapter 3!" . . .

They were also members of the kitty-mafia, and shakedowns for catnip were frequent and violent ("the Meownos - feline family redefined"). The two of them were also best buddies, although I think Arty got the better end of things since Drusilla was the one to clean her ears when they slept together . . . not that there's anything wrong with that!

The two of them had a routine of morning wrestling matches, with Arty always wiggling her butt waiting for Drusilla to turn the corner in ambuscade, then POUNCE, and the battle was on until the two made up for the day. (Bartys had a real mean right hook and tormented Drusilla for years, though we suspect that Drusilla was in fact the alpha tabby - but you could hear the "Bartys Boof" in the next room as she thwacked Drusilla upside the whiskers).

Snarfle urph snurfle grumph urph . . . .

In July of 1998 Miss Ashley Boots entered our life, an adoption from HE's sister-in-law. At the time she was 14 and lived to the ripe old age of 21, passing away in August of 2005. The Druster and Miss Boots, as she came to be called, were particularly bitter territorial rivals (and we always imagined Miss Drusilla saying to herself "Ooooooh I HAAAATE duh Siamese!!!!").

Miss Boots was quite the puff - an eccentric old lady who, like Frank Sinatra, did it her way! (Which is why she lived in my wife's home office for lo these many years!)

There you have it - three great feline companions - feles elegantissimae, who now rest together forever under a fig tree in HE's backyard.

Vale! Et tu!

(Meow Ack Thpt!)

PS - Special thanks to Glaukopidos for her help in posting these photos!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


This morning's installment of Democracy Now, hosted by Amy Goodman (who deserves the Pulitzer, Nobel, AND Medal of Freedom) was one of the best ever. She interviewed the mother of one of the four "security contractors" (the Greeks called them "mercenaries") working for Blackwater and killed in Fallujah (you remember Fallujah, the city we love sooo much that we razed it twice, violating all at once Geneva, Nuremburg, and 9 out of those 10 glorious commandments that Dear Leader and his ecstatic Maenads want oh-soooo desperately to shove in our face). Go read the report - and if you still want to sing "Oh Captain My Captain" to Dear Leader and write a paean to the glorious triumphs of an utterly unfettered market, then I've got some real estate to sell you on the slopes of Vesuvius, though I admire the stamina of anyone able to keep their eyes squint shut and their fingers in their ears screaming LALALALALALALALALA for five years and counting (despite their otherwise shameful lack of courage and apparent inability to let go of that square shaped Weltanschauung into which they attempt to force our [unyet as recognized or understood by them] round globe). Tanti Auguri!!!!


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Aeschylus' The Persians.

Aeschylus' play - the first in western drama (produced in 472 B.C.) - is playing currently at the Shakespeare theater on 7th St. downtown. I saw it last night and it was one of the most powerful and gripping productions I've seen in some time, and certainly one of the best productions I've ever seen at that theater. The modern parallels are inescapable and the production highlights them to the max - at the play's opening an enormous map of the Persian empire is projected on the back of the stage, with the capitol Susa gradually coming into increasing prominence until all that is projected onto the stage backdrop is the word SUSA (with a large star in the middle of the U). Please note those last three letters - need we say more concerning whom this play was really about?

Two lines in particular struck me in this production - one elder counselor's horrified guilt over "sending young men to chase old mens' dreams", and later the ghost of Darius angrily rebuking a policy of arrogant grasping "that will first render one monstrous, then bereft." The back flooring of bloody sand, the music played throughout the drama, Atossa and the chorus of Persians - all of these work to a crescendo of majestic despair.

It struck me at the end, however, that one parallel was not apt between the current situation and the play: the play has a sense of horror, loss, remorse. That is to say, the Persians, even the boy-king Xerxes who stands in the long shadow of his better father Darius - they are educable, introspective, self-critical (which, someone alert the WSJ, does NOT mean self-loathing - HELLOh-OOOh?!?!?!?!) and human.

How powerful was the production? My heart sank in dread as a bunch of giggling high school students on a school trip sat directly in front of us in the theater, but once the play started they were completely silent through the whole hour and a half.

If any of my students see this, let me urge you to try and get a student discount to go and see this production. It will be time well spent. I'd urge the powers-that-be to see it too - but it would just be lost on the likes of a Feith, a Wolfowitz, a Shrub. Alas, there is far too much dunamis and far too little sunetos in the world.


Monday, April 03, 2006


H.E.'s great good friend Miss Drusilla, also know as Drewies, the Drewster and Drewster-Doos (Drewster-Drewster-DREWSTER-DOOS!), has passed away. Of sweet disposition and a great companion who greeted him each morning, she was a frequent friend during his morning coffee/newspaper/Greek time, and of excellent temperament, provided you came through on the morning head rub. I will be blogging pictures of Drusilla and her great good friend Miss Artemis (Dec. 26, 1989-July 23rd 2004), and her arch nemesis, Miss Ashley Boots (1984[!]-Aug. 2005 ["Oooooh I HATE da Siamese!"]) soon.

The bestest, fatestest Tabby in the world, giver of love bites, snarfler of kibble, striped simba-doos of the mighty lard-butt, caller of pride meetings, she accepted us into her life when, given cream as a kitten, she incanted "mew-mew-mew", which we took as a token of pleasure at being welcomed into the home of Sybarites.

Vale! Et tu.