Thursday, August 30, 2007

Alas, I am on Homeland Security's no-hosting list

I am tired of Windows.
Profoundly tired.
To host my Internet expansion I chose
Rock-solid Linux hosting.
The good stuff, Red Hat all the way.
I paid my money down, and a cheery machine
Spat a promise in my direction:
Cash received, setup details to follow
In twenty-four hours.
Then silence.
Profound silence.
Reasonable e-mails
To sales at, billings and and, finally,
To legal at,
Produced no response.
With difficulty,
I kept my Atilla the Hun in check.
At least for the moment.
I have been allowing myself to be
Too much the human flamethrower.
Patience, I thought,
Would produce an answer.
All it produced was silence.
Finally, I intuited the answer:
My loud-mouthed opposition to Imperial America's
Invasion of the planet Mars
Has brought upon me
Homeland Security's thunderbolts of wrath.
Invisibly, they have pasted me into their no-fly zone,
Which I haven't noticed for the simple reason
That I never fly stateside.
And never will.
Fascist America, as far as I'm concerned,
Is permanently off the menu.
You LA fingerprint machine,
You can take that and shove it
Right up a place
Totally remote from sunlight.
I have also been,
It may reasonably be hypothesized,
Placed on the no-borrow list at the Library of Congress,
The no-buy list that the real estate agents conform to
From arctic Alaska to equatorial Florida.
If they ever catch me coming across one of their borders
Then I'm in deep doo-doo.
But I want nothing from them.
Saving America's best,
The rock solid stability of the big machines
Housed on the continental United States.
There is a price for everything,
And Homeland Security's price
Is to inflict upon you
Windows hosting, at the worst,
In the Republic of Kosovo,
In Putingrad,
Or in Outer Eastern Berzerkistan.
This done to you in secret,
So you cannot protest.
All you have is silence,
And a failure to respond to e-mail.
All of which could indicate that the guys who are asleep at the switch
Are not, in fact,
A part of the oppression machine.
Just participating, for the moment,
In the life of the degenerate West,
Slumped at their Grand Theft Auto screens,
Watching Miss Booby Tits Hot To You Porno,
Or having cluster-grapple sex in the toilet,
Senatorial style.
Still, I like my hypothesis.
It makes sense.
However, America,
While it rules the world in porn production,
Gunfight fantasies made emergency room reality
And lies big enough for a whole Republic to swallow,
Does not own the computer hosting world entire.
I will get,
Sooner or later,
The extra hosting I require.
And continue to protest.
The annihilation of the Martian people
By the orbital laser Golgotha
Is wrong.
The fact that the outraged billions of planet Earth
Say that it is wrong
Does not,
In and of itself,
Make it right.
Somewhere out in the reaches of the Deeper Abyss,
Somewhere between Alpha Proxima and Andromeda,
America will meet its match.
And go down.
Its history of coups, overthrows, cannibal dictator buddies
And gung-ho propaganda
Will come to an end.
And Homeland Security?
That outfit you'll be able to buy in cans,
Cans of dog meat at the America Was Us emporium.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aiko Cornucopia Boadicea Nishikawa Has Completed Toilet Training!

Sub-Prime Poem

Sometimes I'm glad I'm not a world bank.
I have run out of chewing gum, but that problem,
I think,
Is fixable.
My daughter's toilet training looked,
For the longest time imaginable,
To be intractable.
But she, now,
Is dry.
(Most of the time.)
Into every life a little drop of rain must fall
So, when the bank does foreclose
(Which it probably will)
Accept it.
And learn from this experience.
Don't make the same mistake two times in a row.
Next time, be certain,
Really, really certain
To be born rich.

The poem tells the truth. After more than three years, my daughter has finally, at last, completed toilet training, this feat finally accomplished in the month of August 2007.

We were assisted and supported by the intolerably hot weather, which made it uncomfortable to wear paper panties, and strongly motivated the beloved daughter to do what was necessary to stay dry, ie apply consistently in practice the toilet-sitting skills which she had, in theory, mastered long ago, but, unfortunately, chose for a long time not to demonstrate consistently.

If I'd prayed for a miracle, then I'd say that one had been granted to us. But, as I didn't pray, I can't grant this as a miracle.

Today, 29 August 2007, the intolerable heat of summer has finally broken, and it looks, from the long-range weather forecast, as if autumn is finally upon us.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mia Farrow In Darfur

Mia Farrow In Darfur

She's there right now, or so I thought, when I took a hasty look at her blog, which has a post datelined 8/8/207 at Cassoni, a Camp for Darfurian refugees, its population 28,000.

Then, when I read it a second time, a little more carefully, I gathered that she's actually in Chad, but so close to Sudan that she can see Darfur from where she is.

She takes you right there, writing thus:

"Even the air strip is made of sand. It feels as if we we are at the edge of the earth. Look at the map. Bahai straddles Darfur and Chad. People cross the (nonexistent) border regularly to visit family or their fields. I can see Darfur from where i am typing this message, at the UNHCR compound in Bahai."

Her blog is here:

I googled "bahai chad," and, yes, Bahai is in Chad. I got to a UNHCR page which has all the details, if you're interested. The page is this:

I then went to Wikipedia to find out more about Mia Farrow. I had already discovered, from a news article, that she's 62 years old, and I had a vague idea that she was a Hollywood actress.

Born 1945, American, more than forty films, and, according to Wikipedia, she's been not just to Darfur and Chad but, also, to the Central African Republic.

Personal relationships include those with Andre Previn and (and now I click, knew I'd heart that name before) Woody Allen. Oh, THAT Mia Farrow.

The questions about the Sudan genocide are these: If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

Well, if Mia Farrow has anything to do with it, it seems to be that case that "when" is going to be "right now" and it seems to be that "who" is going to be "me."

A very gutsy lady. But what kind of weirdly aberrant planet is it where, with the world awash with the talent of billions of people, leadership in a genocide crisis defaults to an American actress?

Genocide Wallpaper

Genocide Wallpaper

The decorations on my bedroom wall
Come free for nothing.
Nights, I sit and watch
Chasms circulating on the bedroom wall,
Abysms of despair where outcast shadows,
Intricate in silent dissolution,
Morph to perverted forms as they endure
All that Hell can provide them with.
You see
Go gibbering into flames.
Devils on horseback kill,
Then rape
That which they cannot be bothered to destroy.
You see all this, and see
Much more in a similar vein.
Taken stone cold sober,
It's not quite nice.
A little liquor later, though.
You get to like it.
An acquired taste, I'd say.
Wallpaper being what it is,
It's purely visual.
No hissing gas
In this muted show with the sound turned down to zero.
Charcoal, accumulating,
Adds no odor,
And is not added
To my personal portion
Of the carbon debt.
Free stuff ... well,
You get what you pay for.
And, at moments,
Even though it's free you play a price.
A girl's eyes bulge,
A grandmother's teeth
Totter down her face in bloody splinters,
And you,
By accident, of course,
There are moments when you would prefer,
If granted choice,
Capri, Hawaii, Halifax or Cape Cod.
But all that elite costs money.
Genocide comes free,
Soft bodies a pillow for your dreams.
And if within those dreams of yours
You see the eyeless dead,
They, in turn, see you,
And know you do not grant them help
Or intercession.
They, where they reside,
Endure what they must endure,
And suffer
Fully aware that you permit their fate.
But do not worry.
They, in a place where they cannot consult with counsel,
Cannot, in practice, make demands on you.
And you, for your part,
Should not assist
The demands their desperation would insist.
Do not pity the dead.
What is done is done.
Mithering about it
Will not improve your cash flow.
That you have no moral mission
To rectify the pictures on the wall.
Your spiritual obligation on planet Earth,
Your ethical imperative in a world of war,
Suicide bombers,
Incarceration camps,
Mugabe famines,
And the Genocide Olympics,
Your angel purpose
Is the beach.
Use sunblock,
Wear a hat,
Drink plenty of water,
And do not perve at women not your wife.
The heat,
The watermelon sun.
The challenge of the two-meter surf,
The pounding triumph of the ocean.
Needs no looking after.
Will take care of itself.
Abandon the wallpaper
And accept
This revelation:
The achieved beach,
The perfect setting
For another perfect day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Wife's Heroic Action In The Face Of Terror

I was in the smallest room in the house (one of the pair of them) when three-year-old daughter Cornucopia came to the door with a message. My presence was required in my wife's personal room. My duty? To remove a corpse. My wife had encountered, and had slain, an unwelcome intruder.

The corpse was under the table, flat on its back. It was a cockroach, black, about half the size of my thumb. My wife had killed it with, of all things, the blast of hot air from her hairdryer. Mr Cockroach came sauntering out in the summer air and my wife holocausted him with her beauty machine.

Here in the Tokyo-Yokohama area, it's tropical. Temperatures of about 33 degrees Celsius. Two-meter surf breaking on the beaches of Chiba, where we will be, shortly.

When I had cataract surgery, before the operation I asked an eye doctor if, after the surgery, it would be safe to swim in heavy surf with an intraocular lens implanted.

My father, who was present, scoffed at the question. "When do you ever swim in heavy surf?" Well, almost never. In fact, I almost never swim. In the last fifteen years I've only swum in two places, one being the Bali area (Bali, Lombok, Gili Trewangan) and the other being Okinawa. For me to get in the water it has to be close to that of a comfortably warm bath, but I think maybe in Chiba it will be.

So, all going well, I'll be out there body swimming. I wouldn't call myself a strong swimmer, but I'm a very confident swimmer, and don't expect to get drowned dead by a wave of a mere two meters.

In my previous blog entry I posted a link to a blog by a guy who is in Chad. Here is an excerpt from the text near the top of the entry for Day 17:

"Editor's Note: In March, Kurt Pelda, Africa Bureau Chief of the Swiss daily the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, traveled to eastern Chad on the border with the Sudanese crisis region of Darfur. Over 200,000 Sudanese refugees live in eastern Chad, having fled the violence in Darfur. The region likewise serves as staging grounds for the Darfur rebels fighting against the Sudanese government. During his three weeks traveling in the region, Pelda kept a diary, which provides a portrait of the Darfur conflict that is perhaps unrivaled in its detail and nuance. In daily installments through the beginning of August, World Politics Review presents this important document for the first time in English, concluding with an epilogue penned by Pelda exclusively for WPR"

You can find the latest page of the blog by going to Google News and doing a search for "chad darfur."

Today I downloaded Day 19, which says, in part:

"We drive back along the same route on which we came from N'Djamena to Abéché two weeks ago. But there is one important difference: At the time I still had a valid visa. Fortunately, however, I am never asked to show my passport at any of the many roadblocks we cross. In the worst case, I have just to produce my ominous film and photo permit."

A pretty gutsy thing to be doing, I thought, roaming around an area like that, all on your lonesome, with no army at your back.

Just to wrap up, regarding the intraocular lens, the bottom line is that once you've healed up you can treat your eye exactly as if it was a normal eye. A post-cataract surgery eye with a plastic intraocular lens replacing the natural lens is no more vulnerable than an unmodified eye.

My father was highly amused when I asked my big surf question, but now, with the big surf, improbably as it might seem, almost on the doorstep of the future, I'm very glad that I did ask that question.

Oh, and one little thing discovered in the blog, a mysterious synchronicity at work: "it is already past noon. The thermometer has risen to over 42 ºC (107 ºF). The wind in our faces as we drive feels like air being blown out of a hairdryer."

The photo at the top of my blog entry today is by Kurt Pelda, and shows a boy and a rock formation on the way to N'Djamena.

I feel the tweaking of my psychic powers at work, not for the first time: my spellchecker isn't going to like that rubric one little bit.

And ... just one more little thing today. Recently I fired off some angry e-mails to because my latest book had been rejected for distribution to the likes of Today I looked for a response and found that all six of my e-mail messages (a couple were duplicates) had been answered by a serene machine, the subtext saying "Be as angry as you like, but you would be able to unequipoise me!"

I guess the bottom line is that, in the end, I'll fold, eat humble pie, and sit down and figure out the technicalities needed to conform to the sacred rules of one of the modern world's branches of the Inquisition.

Since this spanner has been thrown in the works, I've already decided that I'll use this opportunity to enlarge and revise the book. So I'm at work on the printed copy that I have in my hot little hand, annotating it with marker pens.

It's an amazing luxury, using a real printed book as a revision tool. It rejigs my vision of the modern printed book. It's not a fixed item that rolls off the printing press and then becomes immutable. It's more like a bronze statue which, if you're so inclined, you can melt down and then reform. The Book Mutable rather than the Book Eternal.

Someone says, and I can't remember who, that a work of art is never finished. It is merely abandoned. After about six months of really solid work on GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION, I did have the distinct impression that I was abandoning the book rather than finishing it.

So many things to do. A billion cockroaches on this planet, and, in the last two days, I've only managed to dispose of the corpses of two of them.

Cockroach onslaughts permitted, then, the True and Final This is Forever version of GENGHIS LOTUS POETRY COLLECTION will be a bigger, bolder book than the one of 141 poems and 312 pages that I have in hand.

Chad and Darfur

[SCENE: We open in an apartment which is obviously not a lair of the Taliban. On one wall is a framed jockstrap with a rubric which attributes its ownership to Michael Jackson. This attribution is false.

[The big calendar on the opposite wall is of beach babes, prime Californian flesh, and the calendar cues us to the fact that it is August. The windows are open to the night, and the sound of a midnight saxophone can be heard. Also, traffic noise, at a distance. And, occasionally, gunfire. It's a highly desirable rent-controlled apartment in a central city area, but you do have to get used to the fact that drive-by shootings are a nightly occurrence.

[Sitting at a computer screen is SOCRATES, very serious, muttering as he clicks away. Sprawled on a couch is MELISSA, who is smoking a joint. She has dropped by without invitation and has now been in the apartment for six hours.

[So far, these two have not yet had sex. Not this evening, at any rate. Having twice divorced MELISSA, SOCRATES is firmly determined that the relationship is over, and there will be neither another shot at the dating game. Nor will there be a third marriage.]

MELISSA: What are you doing?

SOCRATES: Worrying.

MELISSA: What about?

SOCRATES: The guy who lives just across the hall.

MELISSA: Why? You think he might be cheating on you?

SOCRATES: I already told you, he's a narcotics cop.

MELISSA: Oh, Mister Serious! Come on, Socks, what are you chewing on over there?


MELISSA: Chad? I didn't know you were into autosport.

SOCRATES: No, Chad and Darfur. The rape of Darfur.

MELISSA: Chad raped Darfur? A nice guy like that? He raped someone? I can't believe it, you're putting me on. Chad is the motorsport guy, right?

SOCRATES: I'm reading a road diary online.

MELISSA: [stubbing out exhausted spliff] A road diary? A kind of Jack Kerouish thingy?

SOCRATES: This guy's on the road in Chad.

MELISSA: He's in Chad? Socks, are you at a porn site?

At this point, the door opens and COPERNICUS enters. He, like SOCRATES and MELISSA, does not appear to be a member of the Taliban. He is wearing a T-shirt which says "Born to Party, Forced to Do Time," and has a bottle of whiskey in his hand. From the light insouciance with which he swings it about, you gather it is mostly empty. COPERNICUS'S stance and gait indicates that some (or possibly all) of the whiskey is inside him.

SOCRATES: You explain it to her.

COPERNICUS: Explain what?

SOCRATES: [Handing COPERNICUS a newspaper.] Read it an explain it to her.

[COPERNICUS takes the paper, seats himself on a folding picnic stool, which is the only remaining seat in the room, and begins to read the newspaper in silence. There is a knock at the door. SOCRATES ignores it.
[The knock is repeated, and someone can be heard talking outside, loud but incoherent. SOCRATES gets up, walks to the beer fridge, opens it, and takes out his Glock. MELISSA fumbles in her once-chic backpack, yesterday's fashion, unfortunately, and pulls out her digital camera in case something interesting is about to happen. SOCRATES stalks toward the door, his personal High Noon fantasy evidently playing in his head. The voice outside the door falls silent.

[SOCRATES abruptly throws the door open and leaps through, disappearing from sight.

SOCRATES: [Loudly] Ha!

[Gunshot off. Very close and very loud. MELISSA gets up off the couch and dreamwalks toward the door, camera in hand, paparazzi fantasies evidently in her head. To her evident disappointment, SOCRATES returns, the Glock still in his hand.]

MELISSA: Who did you shoot at?

SOCRATES: Safety catch wasn't on.

MELISSA: You mean, it just went off? The guy was gone? There was nobody there?

[COPERNICUS abruptly bursts into a howl of laughter.]

COPERNICUS: This is priceless!

MELISSA: What's funny about Chad raping Darfur?

SOCRATES: He evidently wasn't looking at what he was supposed to be looking at. What we're talking about is a very, very serious situation with a lot of people having their lives totally devastated.

MELISSA: This is, uh, the collapsed bridge thing? Did you see the service in the church thingy?

COPERNICUS: It was a cathedral, I think. Say, did you see the news about that rich guy's dog which ate a worker?

MELISSA: No, the dog didn't eat him. It just killed him.

SOCRATES: And that's major news, huh?

MELISSA: Socks is angry with me. Okay, Socks boy, you can have me a thrill. Give me another of your oh so manly I-explain-politics lectures. You can't believe how wonderfully they turn me on.

[SOCRATES does not respond. He has refocused himself on the computer screen. The Glock is still sitting where SOCRATES left it, on the beer fridge. COPERNICUS takes another hit from the whiskey bottle, puts down the paper and walks out of the room. En route, he uplifts the Glock from the top of the beer fridge. MELISSA scoops up her digital camera and follows. SOCRATES is alone in the room. The agonies of Chad and the ongoing rape of Darfur play out, but not on stage. Nobody is interested, certainly not MELISSA or COPERNICUS.]


#1. What Socrates has been reading online is a page which has the following URL:

It is Day 17 of a kind of blog which has the title "Among Darfur Rebels and Refugees: A Road Diary."

#2 What Copernicus was supposed to be looking at was a prominent article on the developing crisis in Africa which is spilling over into Chad. After leafing through the paper, what he has found, instead, is a Dilbert cartoon, which he finds screamingly funny.

This strip is about the comedy of dysfunctional companies, and it's online at

In frame one, we see Dilbert, the expressionless engineer, sitting next to his point-haired boss. The boss is talking to Wally, the ultimate dysfunctional employee, and says "Are you wearing noise cancellation headphones?" Wally replies with an uncomprehending "What?"

In fame two, the boss shouts, VERY LOUDLY, "I said, are you wearing noise cancellation headphones?"

Dilbert, being an engineer, would be able to find a practical solution to the fact that Wally is obviously doing exactly that. But the boss, now at screaming pitch, stars over again: "I said - "

And Dilbert thinks to himself "This will not end well."

#3. Melissa is right. The dog didn't eat the worker. It merely killed him. One hopes that the worker was properly insured, and it would be nice to imagine that his boss splashed out and gave him a nice funeral as a kind of sayonara present.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Doubts on UN Peacekeeping Mission to Darfur

On a British site I found an opinion piece which doubts that the UN peacekeeping mission to Darfur will be a stunning success.

This piece, on the site, says in part:

"For starters, and despite what the [British Prime Minister Gordon] Brown spin machine would have us believe, this is not the first time the UN has authorised an intervention force for Darfur. Only last year the security council passed a British-sponsored resolution - 1706 - that envisaged a similar force being deployed to Darfur, but nothing came of it because of the hostile reaction from Khartoum.

"Sudan's declaration that it is prepared to co-operate with the new force should be taken with a pinch of salt. Its tactics all along have been to appear accommodating and conciliatory when under international scrutiny, but then to be utterly obstructive when it comes to implementing the deal on the ground."

The Christian Science Monitor has an article headlined "The UN blinks on Darfur".

The piece goes straight to the heart of the problem with the very first sentence:

"Despite the UN action to save it, Darfur still needs a peace to keep before it can use peacekeepers."

Peace keepers can keep a peace once a war has come to a halt, but they can't actually bring a war to a halt if their mandate is nothing than permission to take photographs and hand out free toilet paper. And the mandate, as given to the proposed force by the UN, is not, in practical terms, very much more than that.

The second sentence shows that the position of the Christian Science Monitor is the same as my own: What is needed in Darfur is not peace but war. Here is the second sentence:

"Rather than plan for an invasion of Darfur to end a genocide, the UN Security Council decided Tuesday to send in 20,000 peacekeepers – not peacemakers."

The CSM puts the blame for the UN debacle on two factors, one being the influence of China's veto power and the other being the malign influence of Iraq. America's screw up has dented the UN's enthusiasm for taking down rogue nation states.

The article gets precise about exactly how the arms of the UN force are tied:

"But even with the new UN African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), peacekeepers won't be able to disarm militias or arrest suspected war criminals. They can only protect civilians. And they are allowed to operate only "without prejudice to the responsibility of the government of Sudan," according to Tuesday's UN resolution. That's a loophole for Sudan to block anything."

The Voice of America quotes a UN expert as saying, in effect, that the intervention force itself will not turn the tide. To avoid making a mess of quotation marks inside of quotation marks, I put my quote from the VOA page inside square brackets, thus:

[Rodolphe Adada, Joint Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General was more cautious in his comments.

["Don't forget that the force in itself is not sufficient to bring the peace in Darfur," he noted. "It will be after the agreement we are trying to get between the Darfurians, the work of the political side, this will be basis of the peace and we are there to help implement this peace agreement."]

One problem is made clear by the BBC news site:

"It will be a joint AU-UN mission, but it must be mainly African in character, a specification made to appease Sudan's initial antagonism to the force."

This would seem to rule out a significant contribution from Australia. In a world of whimpy governments which prefer to look the other way when the world is going to hell, Australia has, in recent years, been making deployments to various unstable areas in the Pacific, such as East Timor.

In my view, the Australian military commitment to its self-perceived role, that of playing deputy sheriff to the United States in riding herd on the world, has been carried out in an effective, responsible and highly professional manner.

The Australian armed forces are basically constituted as one big expeditionary force, and the Australian prime minister has indicated that Australia is favorably inclinted to contribute to a mission to Darfur. But what he has suggested is sending doctors and nurses.

Doctors and nurses would be very nice, of course, but it would be nicer if the military professionals of the Australian officer corps could be there on the ground in Africa giving directions to military affairs.

The BBC says that "Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Senegal have so far offered troops."

I see Africa, of course, through the limiting lens of my own stereotypes, but my own impression is that a peace keeping intervention by the likes of Nigeria and Burkina Faso would not exactly be optimal.

War In Sudan Or On Sudan - Now, Please!

I was startled to see, in my ink-on-paper copy of the International Herald Tribune for Thursday 2 August 2007 a front-page article with the triumphalstic headline "UN to send vast peacekeeper force to war-torn Darfur."

The force is not going to be huge. It is only going to be 26,000 people, a mix of cops, troops and experts. Of these, some 7,000 are already in Sudan. They are troops from the African Union, and they are described as being "beleaguered," a word which suggests that they are in no position to rescue anyone but, rather, are in need of being rescued themselves.

The proposed force numbers are derisory when set against the military might of the civilized world and the scale of the problems in Darfur. On top of that, the very notion of sending in a peacekeeping force is absurd when there is no peace to keep.

What is needed, now, is a military force to make war on the janjaweed militias, to hunt them down and kill them dead. To make war in Sudan. Or, better still, to make war on Sudan, and take down the genocidal regime in Khartoum.

The UN, this week, flinched from agreeing to threaten to impose sanctions on Sudan, but what it would have done was to agree to threaten not just sanctions against Sudan but a war against Sudan.

As it is, the token force that is planned is a bad joke.

Darfur has a land area of about 493,180 square kilometers or 196,555 square miles. and a population of 3,093,700 in 1983 (various population figures for Darfur are kicking around, but this one is sourced from the page

By contrast, Northern Ireland has a land area of 14,139 square kilometers or 5,459 square miles. As of 2001, its population was 1,685,000.

One of the images in the photo montage at the top of this blog entry makes clear the size of Northern Ireland versus France. Darfur is roughly ninety percent of the size of France.

By coincidence, I recently read a news article that tells us that the British military has now ended its security mission in Northern Ireland. They were not there to fight a war - there was nobody running around Ireland going into villages and burning all the houses, killing all the men and raping all the women - but just to keep the peace. An uneasy peace with bombs going off now and then and people being kneecapped in pubs, but a peace nevertheless. A peace of sorts.

To cope with the troubles in Northern Ireland, at its peak the British troops strength was 30,000. (This statistic may not be razor-sharp exact, but it's within the ballpark; I got it from an article on the site

In Northern Ireland, then, which is a titchy little area where civil strife was kept pretty much under control by military checkpoints and patrols, the British had thirty thousand pairs of boots on the ground. By contrast, to confront the genocidal war being waged by the janjaweed in the comparatively vast territory of Darfur, the UN has a smaller presence planned, and even this will be hampered by a "stand back and watch, please" mandate which will forbid UN forces from confiscating and destroying the illegal weapons which are being used for the slaughter.

Going to the war zone known as Darfur to play tourist and do peacekeeping is like going to an extermination facility and camping out overnight outside the gas chambers. And getting up in the morning to stage a barbecue cookout outside the ever-busy incinerators.

The UN has flinched from its responsibilities. The proper course of action is not to put together a peacekeeping force but to assemble an expeditionary force which is suitably equipped for an invasion, and then go and either make war in Sudan, and take out the janjaweed, or, better, to make war on Sudan, and take out the ruling regime in Khartoum.

The trouble in Darfur is often billed in the Western media as a conflict between persecuting Arabs and victimized blacks, but actually, it seems to be the case that, not to put too fine a point on it, the Darfur disaster is a case of black on black.

That's a simplistic statement, and if you really want a nuanced assessment of the religious and ethnic background, then I recommend a page from Islamica Magazine, in which university academic R.S. O’Fahey takes us through the details.

The URL for the page is:

On that page, O'Fahey says, in part:

"The conflict is presented both locally and in the wider media as one between Arabs and Africans. This fits into the dominant ideology of the northern Sudanese elite who see themselves as Arab and Muslim, despite the fact that many have experienced color-based racism in the Arab heartlands. This ideology is practiced by the janjaweed who burn mosques, kill imams and desecrate the Holy Qur’an."

Skipping the complications, and simplifying in line with the teachings of a newspaper article I read recently, it seems to be the case that the ruling elite in Khartoum, the black elite, self-identifies as "Arab," though authentic Arabs such as Saddam Hussein and the king of Saudi Arabia would be unlikely to accept them as the real thing.

In the photo montage at the top of this blog entry is the smiling mug of the President of Sudan, Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. A newspaper article that I read recently said that this supposedly "Arab" dude in Khartoum is actually from one of Sudan's African tribe, and, when you look at the pic, well, put him onstage with Bob Marley and some other Rastas, and he wouldn't look out of place.

This guy shouldn't be sitting in the presidential palace in Khartoum. He should be waking up in the morning in a prison cell in the Hague, getting ready to meet, yet again with his lawyers to prepare to defend himself in the trial which is coming his way, a trial for war crimes up to and including genocide.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Problems and Solutions

Problems and Solutions

When I saw on that the United Nations had approved a resolution on Darfur, I thought that perhaps this ongoing genocide was going to be one problem that would finally be solved.

But obviously it's not so.

The deal that has been done is a watered-down version which lacks the originally proposed threat of future sanctions against Sudan and, additionally, does not permit intervening peacekeepers to confiscate illegal arms.

So it's a feel-good vote which will allow a whole bunch of politicians to go through the motions of dealing with the problem without actually solving it.

Here on the home front, we have our own problems, but, overall, we're making a pretty good fist of solving them.

Our biggest problem is the challenge of persuading three-year-old Cornucopia to make the transition from toddler to elegant young lady, an elegant young lady being one who does not poop in her panties.

Cornucopia has the theory of the toilet down pat, and can actually use the device, but very often opts not to.

However, at least she is now going to daycare in her "o-ne san" panties, ie the proper underwear worn by an older person. She still comes home, though, in paper panties, which are always dry when she's uplifted from the daycare center (they are, I check) but often wet by the time she comes home.

My wife has decided that in two weeks we will take the plunge and ask the daycare to send Cornucopia home in proper underwear rather than paper panties. It's summer now, so laundry burdens are a lot more manageable than they would be in the wet winter.

We have just been through the rainy season but the hot steady days of summer now seem to have settled in.

Cornucopia may have been causing another problem. My wife has always suffered seasonal spring hayfever because, like millions of other people living in the Tokyo-Yokohama area, she is allergic to cedar pollen.

The neighboring hills and mountains are awash with oceans of commercial cedar plantation, which has gone uncut for decades because the bottom has dropped out of the cedar market. The simple solution would be for the nation state to order the chainsaws into action, clearfell the cedars and replant the hills with pinus radiata, our standard commercial forestry tree in New Zealand, a tree which grows quickly on any kind of soil you care to plant it in.

The hayfever season is long since over, but my wife recently noticed eye itchiness. She started sneezing, and so, too, did Cornucopia.

Finally, my wife twigged, and may have cracked the problem. Over the past week, or maybe a little longer, Cornucopia has routinely been picking wild grasses to take home. These have feathery heads, the kind of heads you could use to tease a kitten, and it's quite possible that they've been shedding pollen or whatever all through the house.

I personally struck a small problem recently with my running program. After my first proper run (which was actually more of a walk) I was surprisingly stiff and sore the next day. I realized that, while I had warmed up, I hadn't bothered to warm down properly. An entirely fixable problem, I think.

The two photos at the top of the blog show, first, the railway crossing that I reach after descending from the daycare center, and, second, the big and usually deserted park which includes a bar which, although it is a little low, can be used for doing chinups, as long as you're prepared to bend your knees a little.

Way back when, years ago, I used to be able to do about ten chinpus in a row. But the first time I tried to pull myself up on the bar in the deserted park, the maximum number of chinups that I could handle was precisely one.

The bar (or, more exactly, the three bars) can be seen in the park photo in the foreground.