,Malaysia, Nicaragua,adultery

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The Seasons: Last Days of October 2009


"Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,......."

- Dylan Thomas

Still have enough hair left to feel 'frosty fingers', and that is something to feel cheerful about. And there is more. Heading for 76, my knees holding up -- can run (jog), ride a bicycle, and enjoy hiking on local trails.

The change in temperature is noticeable. Breezy and cold but sunny morning. Soon, leaves will begin to fall and pile up and then,hopefully, the rains will follow. After two winters of below-normal precipitation we need rains. Returned empty-handed from a foraging trip last week. Didn't find a single chanterelle. It was too early; the ground still dry and hard.

Far away in South Asia, Islamic fundamentalists are on killing sprees. And we are on a mission to defeat the so called 'insurgents'. In the process we kill innocent civilians. Our government calls it collateral damage. "State terrorism" is a more apt description. According to NYTimes, the CIA had been in cahoots with Ahmed Wali Karzai (brother of president Hamid Karzai) who is said to be a key player in the drug trade. Nothing new. History is full of our shameful role in support of goons in different countries.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Hands Across the Seas, Part I


A Friend's Decision to Die with Dignity * October 2009

"The winds that blow-- ask them,
which leaf of the tree

will be next to go"

(translated by Harold Henderson)

As we grow old the circle of friends and acquaintances shrink. Inevitable. We are here for a limited time and sooner or later our time comes. In the last eight years I have lost two childhood friends to cancer. In both cases their suffering was not prolonged. I don't know what they would have done if faced with the decision to go through a long, expensive, and ultimately meaningless series of treatments.

I have strong feeling about 'right to die' and 'death with dignity'. Simply put, I do not believe in an after-life. I accept the "blank certitude of death". If I should happen to be afflicted with terminal illness my decision would be to let the end come without going through lengthy medical procedures, certainly without being kept alive on life support. My children and friends are aware of my position. I have filed the necessary document with my health care provider and hope that there would not be any hitches but one cannot be sure. Some people not only want to cling to life regardless of the state they are in but they also do not wish to allow those who feel differently to opt for final exit.

Only two states -- Oregon and Washington --in our country have enacted laws to permit physician assistance in dying. For the rest of us it is a different situation. Personally, I thought that Dr. Kevorkian did great work until he was imprisoned for assisting terminally ill people to die. We don't have anything like Dignitas, the Swiss organization. So, one has to plan in advance for the eventuality to avoid being a victim of the system, hooked up to life support.

A friend, Sarah M, who lives in Sussex, UK, was recently diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. She has decided to avoid going through the various stages of treatment which could prolong her remaining days. It is a horrible, painful, degrading disease. Sarah is a passionate activist in human rights causes and justice for the Palestinians. Widely traveled, she is a voracious reader, enjoys gardening, pets, and music. While the NHS in Britain does not have provision for pro-active measures to hasten death, one gets the impression that it is less rigid in its position than the American system under pressure of religious and political organizations to which 'euthanasia' is a dirty word.

Neither Sarah nor I believe in prayers. I think of her and hope that palliative medicine would help her to cope as she prepares for her final days in a hospice.

Listening to Glenn Gould, Piano, A State of Wonder, The Complete Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) 1955. Sony Classical Legacy S3K 87703.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009


About Dark Pools, Extraordinary Rendition,Collateral Damage,etc.


High Finance to War Against Terror, the Same Old Pattern

"Dark Pools". Something ominous about the term. To those of us who are not familiar with the workings of the world of high finance, it sounds as though the same masterminds who created "collateral damage" and "extra-ordinary rendition" are responsible for it. One can imagine our ex vice-president drooling over dark pools although his 'dark pools' might be unrelated to high finance.

The fact remains that they exist, and are not going to disappear anytime soon. Very little is being done to curb abusive practices by the giants of Wall Street. The changes are mostly cosmetic.

From Bloomberg.com:

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will propose toughening its limits on the amount of anonymous trading carried out on stock platforms called dark pools, according to two people familiar with the deliberations.

The commission will propose lowering the amount of daily volume in a company’s shares that can be executed on the networks before prices must be made public to 0.25 percent from 5 percent tomorrow, said the people, who declined to be identified because the discussions weren’t public. John Nester, an SEC spokesman, declined to comment.

The rule change may curtail the number of transactions on dark pools, off-exchange platforms run by firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Getco LLC that have drawn scrutiny from Democratic Senators Ted Kaufman of Delaware and Charles Schumer of New York. The systems usually shut down trading in a security when they approach the current 5 percent limit.

In our war against terror,too, not much has changed from the way things were done during the G.W. Bush presidency. President Obama, despite his criticism of Bush Administration policies during the campaign of 2008,has not stopped 'extraordinary rendition'.

Los Angeles Times
"Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States."

As our military activities in Iraq dwindle down, 'collateral damage' continues unabated in Afghanistan.

And so it goes.

"We're all mad here"
--Cheshire Cat , Alice in Wonderland

Friday, October 02, 2009


Men Seeking Virgin Brides


Islam and Virginity
* Phyllis Schlafly on Feminism

A device to fake virginity! Funny if it were not for the implications for women in Islamic countries. In today's world virgin brides are in short supply.

BBC News 28 September 2009

Why is it OK for muslim men to have pre-marital sex but not for the women they marry? Although, to be fair, it is not only Islamic countries where men expect the women they marry to be virgins. Things are no different in India. And one gets the feeling that here in the United States the politicians who publicly champion family values, rail against homosexuals and birth control, and then get caught in sleazy extra-marital affairs are not much different than the muslims who want to marry virgins. Think of David Vitter, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and Mark Duvall, the California congressman. All Republicans. Sure, the Democrats had their John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer. But they were not bible-thumping hypocrites.

Wonder if the device and fake blood do the trick -- convince the husbands that they married virgins, hymens intact. It is the same religion that, under Hudood Ordinance required rape victims in Pakistan to produce four adult male witnesses to pursue charges. Ya, Habibi. Where do they crawl out from?

Strangely, the neanderthals - Islamic and others -- enjoy support from some women. Check out Ann Telnaes' animated strip about Phyllis Schlafly in The Washington Post,Sept.30, 2009.

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