Friday, January 30, 2009

Half empty... err missing.

I have figured this place out a bit more.

Its not whats here that counts.. Its whats not here.

And that my friends is one of life's great lessons...... and the biggest problem in Northern Africa to me right now.

(In case you don't know what I am referring to, it is here)

From Nicole's blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In the "I did not know that" column:
"“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” was the final episode of M*A*S*H. The episode aired on February 28, 1983 and was 2½ hours long. It was viewed by nearly 106 million Americans (77% of viewership that night) which established it as the most watched episode in United States television history, a record which still stands." Source.
A 77 share. Nice.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


"Upon taking office, Obama ordered all secret U.S. prisons
closed immediately, and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay closed within a year; he stopped the torture of American prisoners; granted access to all U.S. detainees to the International Red Cross; ended the practice by which detainees could be sent to countries where they might be tortured; froze the salaries of all White House officials making more than $100,000; ordered all government agencies to "adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure" regarding Freedom of Information Act requests; ordered all administration appointees to take an ethics pledge; ended a government ban on funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad; and revoked Executive Order 13233, which placed limits on public access to the records of former presidents."
(from my Harper's weekly newsletter - join! Its good.)

I think a lot of this is to make it look like he has had a progressive start, and well, it looks like he has had a progressive start. Its low lying fruit though.

The whole idea that the US would revoke funding to nations or organizations that offered abortions (or even counseling of options) has got to be one of the more twisted republican platforms. Its like a church and state porno movie.

(If anyone is a Boston Legal fan, they argued a case on this issue quite well)

And I didn't realize, but how's this for craziness with a capital K?

"It was widely anticipated that Obama would sign the executive order yesterday, on the 36th anniversary of Roe. In 1993 former president Bill Clinton had revoked the policy on that day, while George Bush reinstated the policy on his first day in office in 2001, the day before the Roe anniversary." - Source.

Order 13233 was instated by The Dub to prevent Ronald Reagan's papers from being released to historians. Read this link, its pretty fascinating.

I think its going to be fun watching the political intrigue uncover over the next year. Then some sort of scandal will make for depressing fixation as it all unravels again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hey hey good looking, what you got cooking?

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, and if you are only able to be reincarnated as cooking implements, then I want to come back as a Tajine. It brings so much joy to people in this world.

Yesterday I realised my 2 week long dream of owning one. For the astronomical price of 25 dirhams (just shy of 4 CAD). I purchased this comely specimen at my local store.

So beef is expensive here and well, there certainly are better cuts of it in this world. Apparently there is a slaughter house here somewhere where you can pick out your chicken which I need to find. I think you are also supposed to use a broth in these things instead of water, so boiling down some bones is the goal for tomorrow.

Spices are cheap and fresh, but vegetables are kind of hit or miss. Couple of carrots and potatoes, garlic a plenty, some browned beef, some curry and some chili powder, olive oil and some water and BAM! 1.5 hours later Mike is a happy guy :)

In other news, I haven't eaten dinner in a restaurant in 7 nights, and that's a record for me since I was 18 or so.

Movin on up.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I hold these truths to be self evident. Obama: The end of an error.

I'm pensive today. and happy. I was a total pessimist on election day and totally said the sky was going to fall and I am glad I was wrong (or rather I am glad that it wasn't close). The world needs some relief. They may or may not find that in the new president. Good luck today Sir.

Ani Difranco is one of my favorite songwriters. She does spoken word from time to time and I have always found "Self Evident" (2002) to be the most powerful of her works. I'm thinking about this today, it wraps up some sentiment from a crazy time in history.

So once again, I can't find a place to share music legally on this blog. (Is there some sort of personal radio site that I can join or create - does anyone know?). I am limited to sharing posts on YouTube where people have spliced images over songs. This one is better than most though.

Did anyone see the Dub's last press conference? Or he and the Missus Dub on Larry King? I don't have links for them, but he defended his administrations response to Katrina in each of them (among other ridiculous claims). How they reacted quickly. 30000 people pulled off of houses and all that stuff. Too bad they had no water to drink, nowhere to go, no law, no order and no medical supplies.


AND to end on a happy note, I got to see Ani a couple of days before I took off.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."

Some thoughtlets that I am mulling over, other than I can't wait for the dub to disappear:

  • Wikipedia: One of the most well entrenched informational websites in "the Internets", has an operating budget of only 6 million for day-to-day operations: servers, hosting, bandwidth and a staff of only 23 people! I am fascinated by wikis in general. People are calling for 2009 to see a shift in social networking and I think the "Borg collective" attributes of sites like Wikipedia are a way more logical lineage to the next big thing than the largely exhibitionist / voyeuristic attributes of something like Facebook.
  • Portugal has a drinking age of 16
  • I fear setting off fire alarms more than I fear setting off fires. My new place has no fire alarms. Yay me!.
  • The domain name is worth several million dollars and once was for sale for $30 million in the hay day of domain craziness (and was actually only registered in 1994, a time when I was actually on the Internet which is depressing. If only we knew!) and it looks like it was for sale last year. I can't actually find if it sold, due at least in part to my laziness. I found an interesting site while looking this up that rates values of domains. Based only on traffic and ad revenue, they say its worth $12723.9 USD.
If you do some quick math, this valuation is only a multiple of 2 against yearly gross revenues. (this is less important as is an obvious brand, but as a simple site that is only supported by clickable ads, it has 5000 and change pageviews daily and makes $17. If you do some reading on the boards, people find that a couple of bucks a month for a domain is perfectly reasonable.. They just host a 100,000 of them.)

Sounds crazy to me, but in a way, people have found a way to estimate the bricks and mortar of sites supported by ad revenue, using publicly available information, it just still doesn't matter.
  • Wedding videos.. If I ever own one with me in it (the possibility of which seems to be dubious these days), I never want to look back on that day thinking that that time was any better than the now. Sure its a special day, but I think a lot of married people pull that tape off the shelf once a year and aren't wistful of the day, but wistful of that time in their relationship. A time when things were better. I've got enough regrets in my life, I really don't want the start of a marriage to be the pinnacle of the most important relationship in my life.
  • I am remunerating on the difference between "culture shock" and "shock to the system". At times, I think most people (including myself) get the two confused. People land in a place like Marrakech and its dirty and noisy and smelly and they say, "I am reeling from the culture shock". But its not really culture, its a condition. Its shocking yes, and aspects of that condition are a result of culture, like those derived from architecture.. but the fact that you need to walk through a backed up sewer to get to your hostel isn't culture.. its just because the infrastructure sucks. Yet back home, people sit over a glass of chardonnay around their warm and cozy living rooms and show pictures of a backed up sewer and say things like "it took a long time for us to get over the culture shock".

Words and sayings that I've been liking (not all new, but in my brain for the now):

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A man walks down Main street with three live bunnies in one hand....

Its tough sometimes. I try to ask myself questions that will somehow serve to enlighten. I search for the answers.. but sometimes I realize that all of the questions have already been asked. The worst ones are the ones that I remember asking myself, that I had already figured out in a past life and just plain forgot.

Take this for example. I was so excited. like it was new, like it was a key to unlocking my greatness. I just needed an answer and all would be right. Then I realized that it was just another question that has dogged generations since protoplasm was knee high to an amoeba.

I think that Plato posited it the most succinctly in one of his lesser known Socratic dialogues. It goes something like this:

"Dear man with 3 live bunnies in one hand,

What do you have in the sack, son?

Regards, Socrates."

The search goes on. *sigh*

Friday, January 9, 2009

Israil v. Gaza Strip

I know this is a terribly complex conflict and that its been going on for ever, but....

First the UN meets and fails to come up with a STATEMENT on the conflict. Why? The US wields its veto power. A statement!

Then the UN comes up with a resolution saying that everyone must stop and sort things out. The US abstains. Israel now rejects this pretty much meaningless resolution (but I think Hamas did as well).

At this very moment, there is another 3 hour "relief cease fire" to allow UN humanitarian aid. I am watching as bombs fall into Gaza live on the BBC.

The last "cease fire" saw 15 minutes of no attacks. A UN convoy gets shelled. Source.

The UN has charged Israel with bombing a civilian safe house. A place that Israel troops escorted Palestinian civilians to gather and to be safe. And then it got repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, blowing it to smithereens and killing 30-60 people. Source.

I know that Israel is trying to teach a lesson here. That they want to turn the people against Hamas, so that people in Gaza will renounce them, "look what they have brought?", but the flip side of this coin could very well see all of Gaza uniting against Israel. From what I can see this is a disproportionate response in the extreme with no end in sight.

This won't be a popular comment, but the timing of this war is very suspicious to me. They may very well have seen that the last 2 weeks that the Dub would be able to give them his unconditional love was their last chance to kick some ass.

Hamas obviously shares the blame here. Maybe all of it. They even keep saying that "Israel will die" blah blah blah. but something has to stop here. This is ridiculous.

I am very sad by whats going on over there. I am sad that Hamas continued to fire rockets over the last few years. I am sad that innocent men women and children are dying as a result (on both sides and over all of the years of this conflict).

Mostly I am sad that the international community isn't really able to do anything to stop it. I am sad that the UN no longer seems to have any power in the world stage.

One more expectation for Obama. I wouldn't take his job for anything. I have no idea how he can possibly succeed.

UPDATE (2:00pm GMT): Palestinian medics report 778 Palestinian dead, 200+ of them children. Israel officials will not comment on death toll. UN is charging Israel in specific instances of ignoring wounded women and children in direct violation of the Geneva convention. Israel denies attacking safe house as they were not in the area. Hamas fired 6 rockets during 3 hour humanitarian cease fire, 2 during today's. All as reported by BBC.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A letter

Dear Mosque,

First time caller. I have been around you before, but I am now making a concerted effort to understand you. I recognize your importance in a way that I had not previously. I have several questions that I am hoping you can help me with. To start:
1. What is that you are saying so loudly to me 5 times daily? Are you praying?
2. What are these pillars on which the faith of those who attend you are built?
3. Who is Fatima? Why is her hand on many of the door knockers in town?
Any help that you can give would be much appreciated.

Seeking Understanding Please

Dear SUP,

First off, the idea that I can reply to you is somewhat odd and may possibly be offensive. You are but a child though and have no knowledge of absolutely anything around you. It is obvious to me that you are trying to write a readable blog post, so I will entertain you this time.

1. I am certainly not praying over my loudspeakers. I am calling all Muslims to prayer. It is called the Adhan and is heard at dawn, at the midday, about the middle of the afternoon, just after sunset and at nightfall (about two hours after sunset). The Sunni version (the predominant religion in the country you are in) goes something like this:

Allah u Akbar, Allah u Akbar
-- Allah is greatest, Allah is the greatest,
Ash-hadu al-la Ilaha ill Allah - Ash-hadu al-la Ilaha ill Allah
-- I bear witness that there is no divinty but Allah
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullaah
-- I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullaah.
-- I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger
Hayya la-s-saleah - Hayya la-s-saleah
-- Make haste towards prayer, Make haste towards prayer
Hayya la-l-faleah - Hayya la-l-faleah
-- Make haste towards real success, Make haste towards real success,
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar
-- Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest
La Ilaha ill Allah
-- There is no divinity but Allah
At daybreak, I also say "Prayer is better than sleep", because as you know, that is true.
2. As you are starting to see, Islam is pretty complicated. Just like there are 1000+ Christian groups, people do things differently depending on their flavor of faith here. Grossly simplifying things appears to leave us with (one source):

Sunni's have:

Shahadah (profession of faith)
Salah (ritual prayer)
Zakat (almsgiving)
Sawm (fasting during Ramadan)
Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca)

Shia's add three more:

Taharah (cleanliness and purity)
Walayah (love and devotion for God, the Prophets, the Imam and the dai)
Jihad (meaning struggle or striving in the way of Allah)

So depending on how you look at it, there are 5,7 or 8 pillars of Islam.

3. Fatima is the daughter of the prophet Muhammad from his first wife Khadija. As for the hand, remember when you were cooking dinner with that dude Kamaal and he said that there were too many stories regarding this history? Well that appears to be true. The going theme of all of them though is that she wards off the evil eye and can be found on jewelry and yes, door knockers.

SUP, I may not be able to speak to you again, but I wish you good luck.

Ma’a salama,
A Mosque

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bad Day

Do you ever feel like you are having one of those days? Like when you are just standing around your yard, the sun is beating down on your leather coat. There is a nice breeze to whisk away the flies. You're just hanging out, eating some grass, maybe you're contemplative? Trying to think about why you were made so damn useful to the higher ups, but your little brain is only able to contemplate how fucking tasty that grass is.

Then some dude comes along, makes you face Mecca, slits your throat and bleeds you out. He chops you head and your legs off, spills your innards into a bucket to be sold for parts. Your skin gets made into gaudy shoes. Someone puts a meat hook through your anus and hangs you in the Medina. A henna tattoo is not so carefully done on your dick.

You can only hope then that you get a good price per pound before you rot, but all you have is some stupid tourist trying to take a good picture. He doesn't even give you the dignity of being able to capture the detail in any decent way.

I'm with ya. I have those days all the time.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Although cleansing your recent and not so recent sins in the ocean at the birth of the new year is poetic, everyone should remember to leave their camera behind lest it fill with sand and salt water. She was a good soldier and I will miss her.. and take photos with my phone until I can source something else.]

[EDITOR'S NOTE II: It looks very tattoo like, and I have seen it in other stalls. However, nobody I talk to has heard of such a thing.. maybe its just burst blood vessels masquerading as a symbol of some sort.. Anywho, this is the last time that I am going to be staring at a cow penis in a market for any length of time. Not the first of course, but you know.]