A happy belated Bastille Day to you...after celebrating our own neighbor-against-neighbor 1776 revolt with fireworks and barbecue, I'm always happy to quaff a glass of champagne while toasting the great bloody 1789 class revolt (first of four...or so) that my Parisien friends suffered...so here's to precious liberty. Democracy's a bitch...taking sides between Israel and the Lebanon should demonstrate that. It's also Audrey Horne's birthday...don't ask me why I know this...and happy birthday to REMBRANDT:
I'm at my most sincerely jaded today, thanks to this wonderful baking we've been enjoying here in toasty Southern California. Global warming skeptics should spend a few days in Southern California...or a lot of other places...the summer heat has really been something special. I've been sleeping on my couch since the beginning of July, away from my oven-like east-facing boudoir. We've alternated between a dry desert scorch and a cooler, but miserably humid tropical monsoon, the early morning sky lit by lightning flashes. Right now I'll admit it's not too bad...I might even wear a long-sleeved shirt today! Woo!
I don't try to equate our suffering here in Los Angeles with any other city...this is a rough time to be an urban dweller. Look back just ten years and add up what's been suffered in New York City, London, Paris, Madrid, not to mention Baghdad or Kabul. Just recently I noticed a sequence of three terrible subway accidents, two caused by neglect and one by murderers, in Mumbai, Valencia and Chicago...the ultimate bane of the cosmopolitan, the destruction of essential transit systems. It's no shock that Mumbai, London, Moscow, Tokyo and Madrid were all attacked in this fashion by killers, and to some extent, this was an intended consequence of 11 September as well, paralyzing the airline network that serves the US as national transit instead of rail.
More information on this tragic, misguided attack on an already difficult city; even as I write, this disaster eclipsed by Beirut:
Bombs Explode on Trains in India, Killing Scores
A string of powerful explosions ripped up and down the spine of Mumbai's commuter train system during rush hour today, bringing India's financial capital to a panicked standstill and resurrecting memories of bloodbaths past.
This isn't a hammer blow to your sensibilities, like the counterbombardment of Haifa and Beirut, two of the oldest and most re-destroyed cities on the planet...but in the background, hear the hiss of anticipation as cities become the centers of modern life...and their first victims:
** Are cities the new countries? **
London mayor Ken Livingstone is the latest civic leader to hanker after independence. Is the nation state under threat from the rise of the super-city?
< http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5179232.stm >
I'd also note that Mumbai, with this subway atrocity, now joins the list of "largest terrorist massacres" right between the Bali bombing of 2002 and the Madrid bombings of 2004...and none of these three, by the way, even made the top ten. If you can stomach the entire list of human hatred, it's here:
Our friends in New York City currently hold the dubious lead in deaths by non-natural disasters, although I would note that an even more depressing list exists, the destruction of cities by aerial bombing, which exceeds 11 September by factors of 10 to 70, cities like Hiroshima, Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, Rotterdam. You can read about it here:
You may notice a healthy debate on this site regarding whether aerial bombing and terror bombing should be considered the same subject:
This financial analyst writes about urban destruction in São Paulo, which is barely above the radar, but he sees it as indicative of an urban apocalypse around the world:
Three war forecasts
Anthony and I are in Brazil to attend my nephews wedding. We fly back tonight. When I planned this trip, I welcomed it as a chance to get away for a relaxing weekend to escape the daily bombardment of news about Iran, Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon. Instead, it feels as though we jumped into the thick of the melee: vicious, coordinated attacks by criminal gangs throughout the state of São Paulo.
Maybe it really is the end of the world...or just an "apocalypse weekend" (thanks, Geri):
Okay, time for a little housekeeping...
Some of you may have noticed I'm not on "skype" any more...I still have the software, but because of the age of my poor computer, it wasn't taking well to being "skype ready" all the time, even with my newfangled DSL line. I'd ask that if you need to skype me, send an e-mail with a suggested time and I'll fire it up.
In other new technology reports, I'd like to note that the solar-powered auto fan, a silly looking device they're selling on television, is actually quite effective. It clips on a window of your friendly auto, with a solar cell on one side and a fan on the other, and without seriously compromising the security of your door, blows hot air out. Even on the hottest of days last week, it reduced the boiling temperature of my car about 10-20 degrees...I wish I'd had it back when I owned the Roach with its sticky black vinyl seats. You can find these things on EBay for about $25.
On the personal career front, I'm moving rapidly, along with Mr. Pettibon and Mrs. Sullivan, to having a full-on book come out, just in time for Christmas gifting, woo! But I'm not sinking all the eggs into a single basket, and I've revived my old skills as a tarot-card reader for profit. Just recently I did my shtick at a party for the less-than-market-rate rate of $20 a head. Of course, friends are always free, but if you know of someone (or a group of someones) in LA who'd like their future laid out, I'm not a bullshitter and ready to go.
One more bit of housekeeping: an interesting article on how to pull a tick off (gross, eh?) which contradicts old yarns I've been taught for years:
Speaking of pulling off ticks, here's a quick way to solve all your woes, kill each other:
FOCUS Japan Considers Pre-Emptive Strike Against N. Korea
Japan said Monday it was considering whether a pre-emptive strike on the North's missile bases would violate its constitution, signaling a hardening stance ahead of a possible UN Security Council vote on Tokyo's proposal for sanctions against the regime. Japan's constitution currently bars the use of military force in settling international disputes and prohibits Japan from maintaining a military for warfare.
Sri Lanka on Brink of War
Violence escalated in Sri Lanka yesterday when government forces stormed a Catholic church where 200 people had sought refuge, opening fire and hurling grenades at civilians cowering inside. Witnesses say at least five died and scores were injured. Sri Lanka is again on the brink of all-out civil war.
That's unnerving...can't we all just get along, like the World Cup, and kick around our differences? That's what the UN could be good for, especially in places like Lebanon, if it could replace the United States as the "world cop"...here's a remark from Mr. Annan himself:
So When Shall We Have a UN Cup?
By Kofi Annan
My government, of course, would rather replace the UN with anarchy and rule the world itself; as the Romans tolerated everything except rivals:
UN Comments Trigger Row With US
The US ambassador to the United Nations has hit back at comments by the UN deputy chief about US policy on the UN.
US Won't Seek a Seat on the UN Rights Council
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times
Bush Administration Blocking International Deal Fighting AIDS
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the UN Summit in New York which began on Wednesday: "The world has been unconscionably slow in meeting one of the most vital aspects of the struggle: measures to fight the spread of AIDS among women and girls. These shortcomings are deadly."
US Law Trumps World Treaty, High Court Says
By David G. Savage
The Los Angeles Times
The results are predictable: destruction of our reputation overseas.
Global Image of the US Is Worsening, Survey Finds
By Brian Knowlton
The New York Times
US Effort to Rehab Image Falls Short
By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor
Bitter recriminations from our closest neighbors:
What More Could We Give You, Mr. Bush?
Maude Barlow argues that Canada's Conservative government has already made more than enough concessions to the aggrandizing United States.
Then we begin an internal attack on "foreigners", starting with those least able to defend themselves, poor Latinos who came in across the desert...but the arguments made against them are specious:
E-mail provides statistics about the number and costs of illegal aliens in Los Angeles County.
And the result is to criminalize even a drive to Vancouver or Tijuana; expect this useful online chart to expand when a passport is required just to visit Baja or Niagara Falls:
This table shows "the estimated wait times for reaching the primary inspection booth, the first point of contact with CBP when crossing the Canada/U.S. and Mexico/U.S. land borders. Each border location updates its estimated wait times hourly." From the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs & Border Protection (CBP).
Sure, here in sunny California, we value and live for a healthy international rivalry; I was tickled to read how some of our wines topped the French once again:
SFGate: California wines beat the French -- again/Even after 30 years of aging, state's Cabernets still tops
The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
California wines beat the French -- again/Even after 30 years of aging, state's Cabernets still tops
Linda Murphy, Chronicle Wine Editor
Who says California wines don't age? Gaul is biting its tongue today after California smoked France Wednesday in a cross-continental tasting of wines that have matured in cellars for three decades. The California Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines placed first through fifth, followed by four wines from France's hallowed Bordeaux region and then another California Cab. Sacre bleu!
The Judgment of Paris
What the French didn't learn from the legendary wine-tasting.
By Mike Steinberger
Today is the 30th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris, the legendary tasting in which a pair of unheralded California wines bested some of France's most celebrated reds and whites. It was, you might say, the collective slurp heard round the world. France losing to the United States at wine?
Mike Steinberger is Slate's wine columnist.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2142365/
Part of a rich heritage of rivalry and friendship that's been good for both of us:
Companion to an exhibit that "looked at why American artists were drawn to Paris, what they produced there, and how their art changed." Includes an audio introduction and images and notes about paintings such as John Singer Sargent's "Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)" and James Abbott McNeill Whistler's "Arrangement in Grey and Black, no. 1: Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1871." From the National Gallery, London.
...And safer drinking than with our old colonizers:
British police tell boozy women to wear nice knickers
"Wear nice pants" - UK police tell women drinkers
...And safer than the games we Americans like to play abroad:
Cautionary material from the U.S. government about possession and use of illegal drugs in foreign countries. "Each year, 2,500 Americans are arrested overseas. One third of the arrests are on drug-related charges. Many of those arrested assumed as U.S. citizens that they could not be arrested." Includes an overview of what U.S. consulates can and cannot do, and tips for avoiding unknowing possession of drugs. From the U.S. Department of State.
But my country now lives in ignorance of its neighbors:
USATODAY.com - Young Americans geographically challenged*
The consequences are beginning to pile up, in Europe:
Le Monde Demanding Allies
Le Monde argues that the US and Europe are firmly united in their determination to eradicate "warrior jihadism," but divided by tactics, specifically US abandonment of international law and the laws of war, and its decision to invade Iraq. Europeans must be "demanding allies," it contends.
Transfer of Passenger Information to the United States Judged Illegal
By Rafaële Rivais
William Pfaff: Why Europe should reject U.S. market capitalism
Europe should be looking for social and economic evolution on its own terms.
Rising Concern Among European Countries in Cooperation with US
In a resolution that reflected rising concern among Europeans about their countries' cooperation in the United States' effort to curb terrorism, the Parliament voted 302 to 219, with 22 abstentions, to demand that the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Union's 25 member states "explain fully the extent to which they were aware of the secret agreement" between Swift, an international banking consortium, and the United States government.
Dollar falls after Sweden switches to Euros
In South America:
Jeff Cohen Go to Venezuela, You Idiot!
Jeff Cohen was told by right-wingers to go to Venezuela after he publicly supported US residents buying their gasoline at Citgo - a subsidiary of Venezuela's state oil company - to protest Bush's interventionist foreign policy, while supporting innovative anti-poverty programs in Venezuela. He took their advice and writes about his trip with a fact-finding delegation sponsored by the respected US human rights group, Witness for Peace.
By Greg Palast
You'd think George Bush would get down on his knees and kiss Hugo Chávez's behind.
The Mouse on Steroids
By William Fisher
t r u t h o u t Perspective
Bush Bans Arms Sales to Chavez
The US announced a full arms ban on Venezuela last night, claiming it had failed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism.
Chavez's 'citizen militias' on the march
Bachelet Under Pressure
Bush wants Chile to shun Venezuela.
We play games with old enemies, countries that are hardly bastions of democracy:
Russia, US Slipping into Familiar "Chill?"
By Fred Weir
The Christian Science Monitor
US and Russia to Enter Civilian Nuclear Pact
By Peter Baker
The Washington Post
Other countries prepare to clean house:
Judge Orders Berlusconi to Stand Trial in Fraud Case
By Emilio Parodi and Sophie Hardach
Italy Must Go Forward Again
By Romano Prodi
The Hour of the Princess: Ségolène Royal Could Soon Become France's Next President
By Stefan Simons
We should do the same, before we end up as feral as this vicious cat (which lives right here in LA; thanks again, Geri):
When cats become killing machines
Or, more seriously, start suffering real economic losses:
'The housing market's in trouble'
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders dropped this month to the lowest level in more than 14 years as sales fell and orders were cancelled. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence declined to 39, the lowest since December 1991, from 42 in June, the Washington-based association said Tuesday.
Chicago Sun Times
Housing Bubble Trouble
Have we been living beyond our means?
by Andrew Laperriere
Fed Treading on Thin Ice as U.S. Housing Bubble Weakens
Everyone recognizes that the U.S. economy is slowing, but the question is, how bad will it get? One disturbing sign is that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates as the economy slows, and it is not clear when it will stop.
Because there's an end to everything, even King George:
Nepal: Last Stand of a Monarchy
By Justin Huggler
The Independent UK
Phew...I'll just beat the heat with a good book:
It was a long and twisting sentence...
And finally...a word game you can play at home.
Puzzler: Find a nine-letter English word that remains a valid word as each of its letters is successively removed.
Vive le screed!