The Friends of California Libre...

23 December 2006

The International Stonehenge of Mystery

Greetings, friends,
That's right, as of 4.22 PM Thursday (Pacific time), the Earth passed its solstice with the Sun, and the North Pole began tipping back towards vertical (at the March equinox). The days are getting longer and it's time for a about this one (thanks, Dr. Brad)?

I've been spending most of the long, dark nights typing away at my computer, answering e-mail, working on a novel or a poem or a short story, filling out applications and pondering how much has changed up in the Bay Area since I moved out in May 1987. Although I don't really like episodic television, I've also been killing time with two fab soaps, other than the telenovelas, which I just watch with dropped jaw.

My favorite pot-boiler, "Xica", about a hot slave who got freedom and then power in colonial Brasil, is being rerun ten year later on Azteca America, and I'm making time to watch; it helps me brush up on my dubbed Spanish and it is a lot of fun:

I also discovered that "Ballykissangel" ( is on PBS...this popular BBC series is rather pedestrian, but it is one of the biggest shows in Ireland, and also had the side effect of wrecking Avoca, the small town in Wicklow where it's filmed. I was bemused in 2001 to drive through Avoca and see the charming little streets choked with tourbuses full of cackling ladies from Dublin and England, all dying for a pint at Fitzgerald's. Anyway, in the last episode the town got a new priest and the Fitzgerald's was saved from the auction block (an interesting duality) and a terrible fate as a "brasserie". Very cute. I still remember "Ros na RĂșn", the long-running Irish language soap opera made by RTE, as more authentic and much more fun, full of smart-mouthed barmaids (I remember distinctly the subtitle "drink up and take your shite outside"): The most popular Irish language show around, it's filmed in Spiddal, a beach town west of Galway, more important as the ferry port to the Aran Islands to be overrun with tourists, and one of the loveliest towns I know of:

I'm also totally hooked on "Seoul 1945", a subtitled Korean soap about five friends torn apart by the division of the country after World War II. Not only am I learning about the Korean War (for example, that neither side wanted the UN/US to become involved) but the show doesn't pull any punches...last Sunday one of the leads, a half-Japanese woman caught up working in a cathouse, just called out a colonel in front of his aides for getting one of her friends pregnant. Hot stuff:

But like some of you, I'm puzzled why no one as launched a streaming TV network over the Internet yet. Enough people have broadband, I'm sure, to support such an endeavor. Does anybody out there remember "The Spot", or what about that ripping Internet soap set in the East Village, back about 1993? So good I can't even remember the name. Well, pretty soon we'll have Vice TV and I'll be satisfied:

I was also recently blown away by this lovely Christian movie featuring a claymation Jesus:

By the way, before I forget, JESUS WAS BORN IN SEPTEMBER, approximately the day after my birthday (29 September), to be precise:

Speaking of claymation, I'm sorry to tell my companions from Barrington Hall that Dave Ross died 15 November, obviously far too young. Dave was the creator of several 8mm masterpieces that made us what we are today (ahem), including "The Onngh Yanngh Movie", "Kitty in the Hobart" and "Bug Snack", where you can watch a young Andy Clay eat a cockroach (which did nothing to diminish their population.) Thankfully you can see all of these movies through links on this website, and learn about what we lived through:

I received this sad news from Rebecca Steinberg, doing very well in Berlin, who has a short movie of her own, where she asks people on the street what they DON'T want for Christmas (a knowledge of German will help you):

It's sad, looking at these old movies of Barrington, to realize how little of that notorious place still survives...these short films are really it, in some ways. Well, other than the Winter Solstice and my warm apartment, I have precious little to cheer me up these days, but I'll take what I can get:
Bush Accepts Bolton's UN Resignation
By Terence Hunt
The Associated Press

See, some of George's camp followers may be jumping ship, looking for a golden parachute to land them in happy happy corporate raider land, but George himself will go down fighting; he ain't giving an inch:
Bush to Renominate Blocked Judicial Candidates
Earth Justice Press Release
Bush: Immigrants May Be Held Indefinitely
By Matt Apuzzo
The Associated Press

One thing I'll give the Republicans, they have a predilection for irony that no Dem can match:
Company Building US Border Fence Snared for Hiring Illegal Immigrants
The Associated Press

And the war ain't even got going, friends. After Iraq we've got Iran in our sights, and then we're going to start knocking pesky European and Russian satellites out of orbit:
Bush Sets Defense As Space Priority
By Marc Kaufman
The Washington Post
Talk of Satellite Defense Raises Fears of Space War
By Marc Kaufman
The Washington Post

Not that our Prez is gonna have much help:
Embittered Insiders Turn Against Bush
By Peter Baker
The Washington Post
Showdown Looms Over Domestic Spying
By David Kravets
The Associated Press
British Believe Bush Is More Dangerous Than Kim Jong-il
By Julian Glover
The Guardian UK

Yep, we can't keep blaming our problems on others; the passive-aggressive might say the US is getting ready for major comeuppance:
US Is Top Purveyor on Weapons Sales List
By Bryan Bender
The Boston Globe

It's either create havoc or let it continue unchecked:
UN Chief: Darfur Is in Free Fall
By Edith M. Lederer
The Associated Press
World Court Official Reports Evidence on Darfur Criminals
By Nora Boustany
The Washington Post

Oh, boo hoo, Joel's trying to ruin yet another Christmas. Hey, you don't know the half of it. I started to fear this Christmas back in February. I'd rather be in Paris:
Pere Lachaise
Please click on the link to see the corresponding content:
** 'Lewd rubbing' shuts Paris statue **
Officials at a cemetery in Paris fence off a tomb to prevent "lewd acts" being performed on a famous statue.
< >

Or Bruxelles:
Please click on the link to see the corresponding content:

Or the deserts of Yemen:
Queen of Sheba

Or Wales:
King Arthur's Last Fight

But wherever you go, there you are:


This company offers free airline flight tracking services for both private and commercial air traffic in the United States. Features a live flight tracker with details about flights and airports, maps with "images depicting a full day of airspace activity over the United States," "graphs showing the total number of aircraft in the air by hour, day, week, month, and years," and related material.

Perhaps to end this year we'll do a rerun of old grievances...
Drama on the Baltic Sea: Polish Coast Guard Fires on German Cruise Ship
After a scrape in Polish waters over duty-free alcohol and cigarettes, the Polish Coast Guard fired warning shots at a German cruise ship. Now diplomats are working to untangle the mess.,1518,443547,00.html

But take care, because times might get tough on all of us:
Top Government Official Says US on Verge of Economic Disaster
By Matt Crenson
The Associated Press

Existing home prices post biggest drop on record: NAR - Nov. 28, 2006*

Click here for the full article

Home foreclosures soar: Mass. sees 300 percent increase
Massachusetts mortgage foreclosures soared 300 percent last month as a chilly market left financially strapped homeowners unable to sell houses they could no longer afford, new figures show. "Any way you slice it, there are many more homes in foreclosure - and the rates are going up significantly,"..

Banks told to predict effects of a 40% crash in house prices
The instruction comes after the FSA found some banks were failing to include gloomy enough assumptions in their modelling

Can the economy survive the housing bust? - November 13, 2006*

How Dangerous Is the Dollar Drop?
By Christian Reiermann
Der Spiegel
** Q&A: The fall of the dollar **
BBC News explains why the dollar is plunging in world currency markets and what the consequences will be if the slide continues.
< >
Venezuela, Oil Producers Buy Euro as Dollar, Oil Fall (Update1)
By Haig Simonian in Zurich and Javier Blas and Carola Hoyos in London
Oil producing countries have reduced their exposure to the dollar to the lowest level in two years and shifted oil income into euros, yen and sterling, according to new data from the Bank for International Settlements.
This article can be found at:,_i_email=y.html
Iran to replace dollar with euro for deals
TEHRAN: Iran yesterday announced it has ordered the central bank to use euros for foreign transactions and transform the state's dollar-denominated assets held abroad into the single European currency."The government has ordered the central bank to replace the dollar with the euro to limit the problems of the executive organs in commercial transactions," government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters.

The Euro against the Dollar: A Possible Struggle?

Kamal el-Kaissi Al-Hayat
In November 2000, Iraq switched from the dollar to the euro, denominating its oil transactions in euros and, in light of this decision, Iraq called on the UN to switch its financial assets at the UN from dollars to euros, totaling $10 billion. The aim of this step was to make Washington feel the kind of damage that could result from its siege and punishment, not to mention encouraging the Europeans and other countries to break the strong hold of sanctions, and escape the dollar orbit, as well.

Playing With Fire: America and the Dollar Illusion
The dollar is still the world's reserve currency, even though it hasn't deserved this status for a long time. The devaluation of the dollar can't be stopped -- it can only be deferred. The result could
be a world economic crisis.
By Gabor Steingart,1518,440054,00.html
Global Economy: Why the Dollar's Fall is Bad for Everyone,1518,328487,00.html
America and the Dollar Illusion
By Gabor Steingart
Der Spiegel

Don't Worry, Europe - Sleep Well
You can access it at the following url:
Euro Trash
Even drug dealers are giving up on the dollar.
By Daniel Gross
The dollar's decline against the euro shows no sign of ending. Clearly, currency traders have made a long-term judgment about the relative value of the currencies of the Old and New Worlds. That sounds bad enough. But now there are signs that we're losing some of the most devoted fans of the greenback: drug dealers, Russian oligachs, and black-market traffickers of all kinds.

Time for a union, eh?
Lost Time to Make Up For: Birth of the International Trade Union Confederation
By Jean-Marcel Bouguereau
Le Nouvel Observateur

And finally, don't forget this Christmas:
Carrie White burns in hell! Happy holidays and vive le screed!

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