Saturday, August 29, 2009
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Friday, August 28, 2009
Very sensible points made by Sen. Feingold. Discussion of withdrawal from Afghanistan should not be taboo. The US needs to soberly assess what are its goals there and how can they be achieved.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I really don't know about the situation in Azerbaijan now. This video is full of images of revolution, but real progress has seemed unlikely in that country. On the other hand, sometimes situations can change very quickly. And sometimes martyrs can play an important role in galvanizing movements.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Mammadov was one of roughly half a dozen journalists imprisoned in Azerbaijan, which has ranked at or near the top for European countries imprisoning journalists. This spring, two journalists were released, leaving five behind bars.
Then, of course, Emin and Adnan were arrested earlier this summer. They continue to languish in prison on trumped up charges, despite the international outrage caused by their arrests.
Monday, August 17, 2009
The writer of the NYT article appears to assume that the blast was a crime of insurgents. Perhaps it was. But I have a deep distrust of Russian security forces. I am still not convinced that the FSB was not connected to the series of blasts in 1999. The bombings preceded the first election of President Putin, who was able to use the violence as a rationale for an increasingly autocratic and repressive regime.
So - this latest bombing in Ingushetia is already being used as a reason for increased repression there. Very convenient.
Friday, August 14, 2009
This is a nice explanation of how the newspaper business got in its current state. Corporate consolidation is directly related the problems that journalism and democracy face today.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Off and on through the afternoon, I had been conducting an on-line “discussion” with a conservative distant relative. The discussion was centered around the health care legislation that is before the US Congress. I am in favor of very substantial changes in the system, even more substantial than that called for in the legislation. He thinks the system needs to be tweaked, at most.
The scope of our disagreement was clear before we started corresponding, but toward the end, perhaps from weariness, we found our area of agreement. He posited that he believes that government is simply too big, too powerful and too intrusive. I could agree with this in general, although we probably disagree about in which areas it’s too big and too intrusive. I posited that I also believe that private corporations are too big, too powerful, and too intrusive. And he agreed with that.
My flashback occurred when I realized that we unwittingly had followed instructions that I learned in a university classroom nearly a decade ago. First, find the areas of agreement. Then expand them. This approach is much more constructive than the demonizing and anger that is so seductive.
(One of the textbooks for the class, by the way, was Getting to Yes. I highly recommend it!)
As I was thinking this morning about the experience, however, I wondered what can we do when our negotiation partners do not cooperate in a constructive approach. This is a very real possibility, and I think we face that situation in the current debate over health care. (Two chapters of Getting to Yes, in fact, are entitled What If They Won’t Play and What If They Use Dirty Tricks.)
In the course of this on-line debate yesterday, for example, I visited Rush Limbaugh’s web page. I read the diatribes and distortions, and thought about their purpose and effect. I thought about motivations. I don’t think that Rush Limbaugh really cares much about anything ideologically. The main - and quite understandable - motivation is to make money. He makes money selling hate. And the people consuming his content get a rush from indulging in the hatred he sells. Years ago, I remember a young man trying to live without cocaine. He wasn’t doing cocaine, but he used his anger like a drug. Rush and others like him sell anger, just like Larry Flynt sells pornography. I don’t think either product is socially constructive, but anger may, in fact, be more destructive.
One of my favorite quotes came to mind when I was thinking about this:
“I let no man drag me down so low as to make me hate him.” - Booker T. Washington
This is good advice for contentious times. I must recognize hatred and anger for what they are, but I must also recognize that these are not entities that are separate from myself. I have that a capacity for anger and hatred too. It’s my choice whether I want to cultivate that capacity within myself or not.
On a completely different subject, I haven’t posted any random links here in awhile. No reason, really. Anyway, here are the sites of Dianne Hodack, a local painter; Matt McGuire, a local writer; and Seth Feinberg, who is an animator who is not local.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
My first impression was surprise. My second impulse was sympathy. But - I have to assume he did his research and knew what he was getting into.
The Telegraph is running a series of articles about the newspaper's correspondent, Douglas Whitehead, bicycling through Europe. One of his latest articles details his experience on the road to Baku. I've bicycled my share and I've traveled around Azerbaijan too. His impressions ring true to me. I easily can imagine the scenes he describes - the honesty of the people and the cultural differences about personal space and boundaries, the simultaneous hospitality and awkwardness.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Онень смешная песня. (Спасибо, Али!) Да, он прав. Когда закончится нефть, мир станет лучше. Я просто надеюсь что мы переживём до этой эпохи.
When the oil runs out, you will be with me again. When you gas runs out, you will return to me.
Yes, all these good things will happen - when the oil and gas run out. Until then.....
Funny and pointed little song. Such petrochemical wealth is a very mixed blessing. I think many people understand this instinctively. The mineral wealth most often fosters corruption, not sustainable development. And yet, to ignore these riches is impossible.