Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Irony of War

I read the news today, oh boy!

In the garden is no ear
Anonymoses Hyperlincoln

With the left hand we hurl millions to fund the healing,
With the right hand we hurl billions to fund the killing.
The earth rocks in the cradle,
the inbalancing cradle.

Oil-drunk hawks do everything to heat up the earth,
facilitate its end...
Hiroshimized by water.

Global warmers see their fruit
layed out on beaches
set to flame by loved ones

then cheer as numbers rack up,
rack up in Iraq.

How hot is a MOAB?
Will Nature counter by bombing us
with ice?

Why do I fear
this is only just the beginning?

So soft and peaceful here.
In the garden is no ear
to hear the cries
of a billion

May the victims of this tragedy, and their friends and families, find peace, strength, patience, solace, wisdom and magnanimous love and charity. And may we, in our gardens, vow to make their suffering meaningful. This could literally be a watershed moment in world history. We can say no to War for all time, and say yes to helping people live better, more peaceful lives.

In the magnanimous outpouring from around the world, we see, as we knew we would see, that everyone has a heart. We are all better off, and we feel better about ourselves, and indeed are intrinsically better, when we act upon our higher natures.

But the suffering this time is so vast, and will certainly get much worse. By showing them that their suffering, and our response to their suffering, will make for a positive change in the way the world's people relate to one another, and that, indeed, we can set ourselves on such a corrective course...who knows? Maybe it can help alleviate some of the pain.

God help us all.

An anti-war Conservative speaks out

'Staying the Course' Won't Do
by Patrick J. Buchanan

[excerpts from]
In the aftermath of the suicide bombing of the Mosul mess hall, we are being admonished anew we must stay the course in Iraq. But "Stay the course!" is no longer enough.

President Bush needs to go on national television and tell us the unvarnished truth. Why are we still there? For some of Bush's countrymen, there is a sense of having been had, of having been made victim to one of the great bait-and-switches in the history of warfare.

The president, his War Cabinet, and the neocon punditocracy sold us on this war by implying Saddam was implicated in 9/11, that he had a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, that he was working on an atom bomb, that he would transfer his terror weapons to al-Qaeda. We had to invade, destroy, and disarm his axis-of-evil regime. Only thus could we be secure.

None of this was true. But the president won that debate and was given a free hand to invade Iraq. He did so, and overthrew Saddam's regime in three weeks. "Mission Accomplished!"

That was 20 months ago. What is our mission now? When did it change? With 1,300 dead and nearly 10,000 wounded, why are we still at war with these people?

The president says the enemy is "terrorism" and "evil," and we fight for "democracy" and that "freedom" that is "God's gift to humanity." All very noble.

But why should Americans have to die for democracy in a nation that has never known it? Democracy in the Middle East is not vital to our national security. For though the Middle East has never been democratic, no Middle East nation has ever attacked us. And should we catch a nation that is supporting terror against us, we have the weapons to make them pay a hellish price, without invading and occupying their country.

The only nation in the 20th century to attack us was Japan. And Japan lashed out, insanely, in desperation, because we had cut off her oil and convinced the British and Dutch to cut off the vital commodities she needed to avoid imperial defeat in China. We were choking the Japanese empire to death.

We might all prefer that Arab nations be democratic. But that is not vital to us. If they remain despotic, that is their problem, so long as they do not threaten or attack us. But to invade an Islamic country to force it to adopt democratic reforms is democratic imperialism. If we practice it, we must expect that some of those we are reforming will resort to the time-honored weapon of anti-imperialists, terrorism – the one effective weapon the weak have against the strong.


Before addressing his countrymen, the president needs to ask and answer for himself some hard questions. Who told him this would be a "cakewalk"? Who misled him to believe we would be welcomed as liberators with bouquets of flowers? Who led him into a situation where his choice appears to be between a seemingly endless guerrilla war that could destroy his presidency, and walking away from Iraq and watching it collapse in mayhem and the massacre of those who cast their lot with us? Why have these fools not been fired, like the CIA geniuses who sold JFK on the Bay of Pigs?

It is not just President Bush who is in this hellish mess. We're all in it together. But the president needs to know that if he intends to use U.S. military power to democratize the Middle East, Americans – 56 percent of whom now believe Iraq was a mistake – will not follow him.

Finally, the president must answer in his heart this question: Exactly how much more blood and money is he willing to plunge into a war for democracy in Iraq, and at what point must he decide – as LBJ and Nixon did in Vietnam – that the cost to America is so great that we must get out and risk the awful consequences of a mistaken war that we should never have launched?

(Thanks to Rob Urban for referring me to this article.)

Der Spiegel: "Bloggers at Front Line of Relief Efforts"

If you want to find out more information about this week's tsunami of biblical proportions in Southeast Asia and how you can help the victims, the best place to go is a new blog in the Indian Ocean region that's compiling everything from requests by organizations seeking donations to victim lists.
Blogs are at the forefront of the tsunami recovery effort. While traditional media drags awaiting publication, and government hotlines jam or go unanswered, bloggers have hopped into the fray, providing needed information to relatives desperate to find loved ones and those hoping to join the rescue efforts. One of the best sites out there is
the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog set up by students from New Delhi, a Sri Lankan TV producer and Internet junkies in the region. It offers everything from fascinating tsunami facts to emergency contact numbers to humanitarian relief organizations. Plus it tells you how to donate money from wherever you are.

(via Glenn Reynolds)

Deadliest Tsunami in History

D A T E - L O C A T I O N - D E A D
2004, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, etc. 150,000+ w/millions suffering today
1883, Krakatoa, Indonesia 36,000
1707 Japan Up to 30,000
1896, Sanriku, Japan 27,000
1755, Lisbon, Portugal 10,000
1933, Sanriku, Japan 3,000
1960, Hilo, Hawaii, and Pacific Islands Over 450
1979, San Juan, Colombia Over 250
1946, Hawaii 173

Learn more about the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake & tsunamis - from Wikipedia

The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake of moment magnitude 9.0 that struck the Indian Ocean off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004 at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time in Jakarta and Bangkok). It was the largest earthquake on Earth since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake which struck Alaska on March 27, 1964, and the fourth largest since 1900 (tied with a 1952 earthquake of 9.0 magnitude in Kamchatka). Tens of thousands were killed by tsunamis of heights of up to 15 m, which flooded coastlines between 15 minutes and 10 hours after the quake, causing one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history.
The multiple tsunamis struck and ravaged coastal regions all over the Indian Ocean, devastating parts of
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and other countries. Deadly tsunamis struck as far away as Somalia and several other countries on the east coast of Africa, 4,500 km (2,800 mi) or more west of the epicentre. Global ripple effects were so widespread that wave fluctuations passed into the Pacific Ocean and caused tidal disturbances in North and South America.
The plight of the affected people and countries prompted a widespread
humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Billionaires, cough it up!

Tat tvam asi...

I am not even a billionaire, and yet I somehow feel empowered to tell each and every one of them to cough it up. Helping victims of tragedy is a growth industry which has suddenly been exponentiated by the forces of Nature, and is likely to occur again and again and again. Some day Nature may find you, and no wall of money will keep you afloat. This is perhaps the worst tragedy in human history. And it has only just begun. Where is your blank check? Your infinite credit line? Want to be a hero and not just inclusionary? Looking for an opportunity to extend noblesse oblige? Sure, the less fortunate can, and are being philanthropic. But time is key. This is your chance to evolve your true worth.

Cough it up. Give it all away. Do something human.

Relief and information links can be found in wondrous abundance at Iddybud, American Street, The Southeast Asia Earthquake and Tsunami site, Emergency Action Blog, and others.

Only a millionaire? You can make yourselves useful too. Give what you can.
Iddybud sent this article on one way to give:
North Carolina Philanthropists are coughing it up...
An emerging philanthropic trend: the 'giving circle'

The Blogs & Music that Healed the World

We are living in Kuhnian times. Revolutions are happening by the hour. Blogpolitics is already ancient history, even while having a much greater future. Now blogs are tying together newspapers, artists, musicians and such that can and should be marshalled to create, very rapidly, a vast amount of financial and informational relief.

Newspapers can give free advertising for a Tsunami Aid concert, featuring local, national and world acts, which is then carried over blogs, with links for charitable giving. In exchange, the blogs can carry an ad for the newspaper, bla bla bla. Work it out. It's for a good cause. And an urgent one at that.

Tsunami, Blogs and The Philanthropic Class

Towards a Poor Theatre


These seem like end-times. The eschaton. Amerigeddon. There are locusts in Egypt, trihurricanes, megaquakes, floods, brothers killing brothers, death on a mass scale.
Howard Zinn and others have suggested that America become a "humanitarian superpower", and what better time than the present? The big natural event that could unite all people...has occurred. Are we mobilizing? Are we going above and beyond the proverbial call of duty? Or are we giving lip-service, and tossing out a few painless dollars?

And what are "painless dollars"?


In order to support my life of heady leisure, I sometimes do work for a well-to-do family here in town. Some of it is painless, but some of it is quite painful. It is impossible that my pay causes any pain whatsoever to the payer, and the other day, I was ruminating on how it would be if people exchanged pain for pain. Pay 'til it hurts. In equal degree. Wouldn't that be nice! So 10k for a day's work makes you cringe? Well carry these barbells to the attic, and then let's talk.

My New Year's wish is that people start considering such matters, and, at least occasionally, act on it.


Speaking of pain...I have noticed that, in America, the truly philanthropic class, as strange as it sounds, are the poor. The poor will give their entire fortune that another may live, and then trust that they will somehow get along without it. Who, in the upper stratophere even gives 'til it hurts? No one, that's who!

I am reminded of the story of Indra and the Ants. The ants will be king, and the king will be an ant. What is full empties, and what is empty gets filled.

But who lives like this...other than the poor?


It is good to give. Brings good karma. And many poor folks would like to be able to help when others suffer much greater tragedies, such as in the case of tsunami. And yet, there may not be an easy way for them to participate in global relief. This is where microphilanthropies come to the rescue. Who knows? The totals may well exceed that given by those with means. Recall Dean and MoveOn, and how they were able to generate massive funds for good causes...a dollar here and a dollar there.


BlogAid. As I said after the election loss: Just because we lost, doesn't mean we cannot still do things. Well, here's something to do...and fashion it after a flashmob, or Ed Cone's instaconference. Time is of the essence.

An enterprising blogger can create a portal for bloggers and non-Bs to... give 'til it hurts. Maybe even have a quick tutorial on Paypal, or some other useful e-payment system. Networks, such as the Street can tie in with ProgBlogs and other groups and networks.

If ever there were a place where bloggers are is in the heart of the inundation. Cannot a flashmob of sorts convene at ground zero and offer their blog up for bulletins?

Will someone create an aggregator for ground zero blogs?


We need one.

Some places to give.

(Originally published on The American Street)


Kevin Hayden of American Street popped me a note, and shared these links where you can help:
Regarding several things Dave's written recently...

On Giving:

There are several groups already underway.

An explanation:
The site:

I'm at a fledgling level of involvement here. Because of the tsunami, we've discussed setting up a blog (temporarily titled Emergency Action Blog) which will be set up for emergencies across the globe. A crisis in your country? (Or state?) We'd quickly set up an aggregate newsfeed using media sources in the the area, blogroll any agencies and relief organizations working the area, and let people from the area blog about what's going on and what's needed. With the bandwidth to meet the demand.

(More at bottom of this list)

Global Voices Online
Draft Manifesto

CivicSpace Labs
A continuation of the Dean-motivated technology build. It seems to be more a platform than an activist group, but it has sponsored I Do and a couple of others:
I Do:

Strengthen The Good
An unusual one, its interests can only be described as eclectic, as they find local micro-causes around the world, advertise it on their blogs and raise funds for them. Among some I've seen: one that raised money to pay funeral expenses for child murder victims, books for schoolkids in the Czech Republic, etc.

Many of its members are Righty bloggers, so it may be a good way to fraternize and develop dialogues. I joined this last summer but have never followed through (The election took too much effort)
Alan Nelson of Command Post set it up.

Project Apollonia
Provides grade school level books to Costa Rican schoolkids.

Omidyar Network
Don't know much about this but they have an impressive list of partners

Bottom of This List
No group by this title, but it circles back to BloggerCorps, because I think several of the same folks are involved in the two below:
They apparently helped set up the Tsunami blog
The Tsunami Blog:

Emergency Action Blog
As noted in the first entry, this is the project that got underway in the past 48 hours. It'll be designed to handle future relief coordination activities, within a few hours of an arising need. Worldchanging, BloggerCorps members - and me - are involved in this. And there's a mailing list.

Individuals involved: Besides Rebecca MacKinnon, others include the following, but there are more on the email list, so this isn't all-inclusive.

Nick Lewis of the Progressive Blog Alliance is heavily involved, and likely is a better source of info (he has tech skills to match his aims; I do not.)

I also suspect it was a comment I left on his blog that got me onto a mailing list about all this stuff. So if you're interested in any of it, he's the person to approach.

Other people involved (some real heavyweights)

Joi Ito

Aldon Hynes and
and bio:

Jon Lebkowsky

Ah, the promise of technology!

Anonymoses welcomes The Solar Bus and PeaceBike

Gary Beckwith's Solar Bus

Tad Beckwith's PeaceBike
About PeaceBike

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Marshes of the Cradle

Paradise Lost?
What should--or can--be done about "the environmental crime of the century"?
by Christopher Reed
(from Harvard Magazine)

Five thousand years ago in the Mesopotamian marshes, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in southern Iraq, the Sumerians began history. They devised an irrigation system and built an agrarian society, banding together the children of hunter-gatherers in the world's first cities—Ur, Uruk, Eridu, Lagash, Larsa—on the edge of the marshes. From their cradle of civilization, the Sumerians brought forth writing (as well as the wheel, maybe, and much else fundamental) and carved into clay tablets the epic of Gilgamesh, which describes the Flood. Here, many say, was the Garden of Eden (although the latest scientific thinking suggests it was at a spot now at the bottom of the Persian Gulf).

Monday, December 27, 2004

Desperate Housewife, Nicolette Sheridan, sheds towel & inhibitions for Football star

Sheridan and Owens with jungle fever

Not to be bested by Janet Jackson or Lindy England, Nicky Sheridan corners the football star in a locker room, and races naked into his arms...on national TV!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

FOX: A False Balance

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord." - Proverbs, 11:1

And to those who are always preaching Armageddon, the Bible says this:

"A man of understanding sets his face toward wisdom,
but the eyes of the fool are on the ends of the earth." - Proverbs, 17:24