It has taken longer to get back to the blog than I had hoped. Moving is an epic that seems to have no end. I had lived in my last apartment for over 25 years so even the idea of a move was foreign to me. I am a service brat, having lived all over the states, Northern Africa and Europe so you might think I could move with ease but I think that worked against me. I settled, some would say burrowed, into a home for so long that inertia set in. But life moves on and all worked out for the best I am now a home, apartment, owner. I will say that now that I own, the hardware store rarely goes a day without a visit from me. How can there be so many little projects?
Did everyone see the second part of Angles in America? Mike Nichols fielded one of the strongest casts to be seen in a film made for television. Tony Kushner has written the best play about the plaque that is AIDS and maybe one the most profound pieces on the human condition. It’s a must see.
The North East has seen two big snowstorms and so far we are early in the season. Both storms happened on weekends. It’s great when it snows in the city on a weekend. Everyone gets out to play in snow. Now that I am a Brooklynite Prospect Park is where I headed to. I was going to go skiing but decided I wasn’t familiar enough with the park to ski it. I hiked in past lots of families sledding on gentle slopes and found some back trails that were still without footprints. The park has woods that are as old as the park and were just set aside by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux with very little changes which makes the wooded areas over a hundred and thirty years old. In the crystal white of the snow storm it was a magical walk. My hike lasted over two hours coming across the occasional cross country skier and a few snow shoe tracks. All in all a great way to see the park.
I hope to be back on a regular schedule with this blog now that things are settling down a bit. Please check back often.

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This blog will be back after I get moved.
After 25 years in the village I am off to Brooklyn. The accumulated debris of 25 years is a major event to deal with. But a new chapter is about to open. Please check back near Halloween when the blog will be back and running. Till then write something every day.


Black Out 2003

NYC seems to be back to normal but each conversation starts with how did it effect you? Our crane camera man had the best story. He just put in a new pool on his 2-1/2 acre place in Brewster. They noticed the "fountain" in the pool had stopped spewing and stereo went silent so.... they made sure the beer was still cool and went back to partying. He lives in an area that has black-outs so at sunset he started the generator and watched a DVD. Life is tough.

This will be the first of a few stories.



I have been asked to exchange a link with E-COOPS.ORG. A new site for those in NYC looking for work and building a web community. It’s very new and he is just starting to get his links together. I hope it works and gets allot of traffic.
You'll find the link in my "recommended" area to the left and my link will be in his NY Bloggers area.
If you visit his site rate my blog at 8 or above. Actually I am looking get some traffic here so if you like my ranting pass the URL on to your friends.

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Tar Baby.

Well the “Arnold” is in the race for Governor and from the first moment he was making news. The look on Leno’s face was priceless when he said he would be running. Rush Limbaugh is calling Arnold a closet liberal because Arnold said that he wanted businesses to come back to California so that the state government could collect enough tax revenues to provide social programs.
Of course only in California would a recall get Larry Flint, Gary Coleman and Ariana Huffington into a travesty of democracy. There is no question in my mind that like the 2000 election the Republicans will subvert the law to get what they want.

Al Gore gave a speech to the members of Move On.org. The gist of the speech can summed up in the following quote.

"Americans have always believed that we the people have a right to know the truth and that the truth will set us free. The very idea of self-government depends upon honest and open debate as the preferred method for pursuing the truth -- and a shared respect for the Rule of Reason as the best way to establish the truth."

"The Bush Administration routinely shows disrespect for that whole basic process, and I think it's partly because they feel as if they already know the truth and aren't very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it. They and the members of groups that belong to their ideological coalition are true believers in each other's agendas."

Of course he was preaching to the choir. He went on to say

“Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country and that some important American values are being placed at risk. And they want to set it right.”

With the farce in California and the fact that many Americans have bought into Paul Wolfowitz’s idea of how America should conduct itself in the world. We are on a hard, mean spirited road that has no regard for the rule of law.

The sad part is we are reading every day of another American soldier dying and now we are seeing car bombs going off. If the resistance in Iraq has car bombs these are not just Ba’ath party members taking pot shots but a group that has bomb making resources and secret places to make those bombs.

Like Brer Rabbit we are stuck with both fists in the Tar Baby.

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The Tour de France

Three weeks twenty one days nineteen days of hard riding. There is a champion with five consecutive wins and a determination to try again. It was Lance Armstrong’s hardest tour since he got off his bike in the mist in 1995. That was the year that Fabio Casartelli crashed on the descent of Col de Portet d'Aspet during Stage 15 of the Tour de France and died. Two days latter Lance won the stage and dedicated his ride to Fabio. I was lucky enough to meet Lance after his first tour win and I brought the picture of him winning that stage to sign. I said it was a great ride, he said it was the best day of his career. Now he is with a select group of riders that have won the Tour de France five times and stands with Miguel Indurain having won his five all in a row. But that is just the highlight of a hot, the hottest on record, tour that saw a massive crash the first day out. The best American besides Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton broke his collar bone in that crash and was not expected to finish. Instead he finished fourth overall and had the ride of his life on stage sixteen where he attacked and won the stage.
Go back to stage seven and listen to the heroics of France’s Richard Virenque take the day and go on to win his sixth pokadot jersey as King of the Mountains. We will never know what might have happened if Joseba Beloki had not crashed in front of Lance in stage nine. Beloki will be lucky to ever ride again having broken his femur at the bottom of a hairpin curve that sent Armstrong cross country to miss rolling over him. Beloki was second at that point and real threat.
Then there was the come back of Jan Ullrich. After missing the last tour with a blown knee he was back and dangerous. He tore up Armstrong in the first individual time trial making up a minute and a half bringing himself within thirty four seconds of the lead. At that point there was only fifty seconds separating first and third place.
The day after Lance’s disastrous time trial it was all he could do to hang on to a fifteen second lead as Ullrich powered up stage thirteen. At the end of the day eighteen seconds separated first and third. Never the previous four years had Armstrong faced such a tight race that late in the mountains.
Two days later Lance had recovered. Ullrich attacked on the Col de Tourmalet and dropped Lance who had to wait and be patient till his speed matched the German. He caught up to Jan and Ullrich again tried to attack, this time it didn’t work Lance held his wheel. The on the next and final climb for first time Lace attacked but it was short lived. A young boy held out a musette bag that hooked Lance's handlebars and he went down. Mayo rolled right over him. Tyler Hamilton seeing the yellow jersey down sprinted ahead and told Ullrich to wait which he did. Lance pulled himself up to the group then… he was off and running. He won his only stage in this years tour dropping the big German and the Kazak in his wake. It was not the two to three minutes we are used to seeing in the past but it was enough.
Then came the final time trial. Raining and dangerous the roads were an accident waiting to happen. Ullrich had to press to have any chance of a win and Armstrong kept the pace high. Their times jockeyed between Ullrich pulling ahead by six seconds and Lance pulling him back. Then Ullrich was down. Even though he got right up it was over. Lance could ease up and make sure he had a safe ride. His tour was won.
This was a great tour. Lance is the big story but each day brought heroics and valor.
There is no sport like the The Tour de France .

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There will come soft rain and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire.

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

If mankind perished utterly.

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.



Heroes Just the Same

Today was one of those special days at the Tour de France . It was 90 degrees on the road from Nevers to Lyon, a total of 230 kilometers or 143 miles. At 35 kilometers Stuart O’Grady a strong and crafty veteran of the tour and Antony Geslin the third youngest rider on the tour sped up to take the first intermediate sprint points and then decided to keep on going.
The only thing harder than a two man attack on the peloton is a one man attack which is almost impossible. That is exactly what Geslin tried the day before for two hours before being caught. O’Grady and Geslin not only attacked, they put as much as 18 minutes between themselves and the pack (peloton). They kept the peloton at bay for four hot grueling hours. Their effort was heroic and like tragic Greek heroes, doomed to fail. They maintained the lead until the very last kilometer then the peloton bearing down on them at 70 kilometers and hour gobbled them up. O’Grady finished 20th Geslin finished 59th. The new king of the sprinters Petacchi whizzed by the entire field to an easy fourth win in this years tour.
Do we feel sad that O’Grady and Geslin did not beat the odds? Well… yes but tonight they are the talk of France. They are being praised for an epic effort and they will not be forgotten. They are why we watch the the Tour.
Yes Lance Armstrong will be the big story tomorrow as they encounter the mountains. The fight for the overall lead will begin as Lance and Jan Ullrich contest the worst the Tour has to offer.
But today was for two brave young men who risked all.

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All is right with the world

The Tour de France is under way and Lance Armstrong is in great position just one second out of first place with a team mate ahead of him. The US Postal team had a great day on the team time trial. They started off slow and were 14 seconds off the pace at the first time check but when all was said and done they had won their first ever team time trial. Their margin of victory was enough to put Victor Hugo Pena into the overall lead and the yellow jersey. He became the first Colombian to ever wear the ”Maillot Jaune”.
This could prove to be a hard fought tour with Jan Ullrich in the best shape since his win in 1997. Unfortunately Tyler Hamilton was involved in the huge crash on day two and is riding with two fractures of his collar bone. I don’t think he will make it up the mountains with that kind of pain. Too bad, it would have been great to see two Americans battle it out for the win.
Tommorow we see the first of the mountains. The tour is always won in the mountains.
So enjoy the tour and root for Lance but watch the small stories the breakaways and the little triumphs. A stage win in the tour can make a small town boy a hero for life.
It’s the best sporting event in the world.


Rain Rain Go Away!

In “Alice’s restaurant” Arlo Guthrie talks about the “Last Guy”. He says when you have it bad someone always has it worse than you. At some point there is the last guy and no one has it worse than him.
While it’s true our sailing season has been dismal so far, there is a couple who have it worse than us. Last weekend Oyster Bay saw 60 knots and lightning strikes everywhere. My friends Ron and Kathy are great sailors and cruise the Sound and points east each year in their Niagara 35, a beautiful Canadian boat. They had only gotten a one hour shake down cruise in before last weekend when they were hit by lightning. Now their boat is on a mooring close to the marina where the mast lays in the yard torn apart and the prospect of all the electronics, including every inch of wiring may have to be replaced. Even if the weather changes by the 4th they face a month of repairs.
There are many perks to owning a 25’ boat. I have a 44’ Cheoy Lee one side of me and Ron and Kathy’s 35’ Niagara on the other I am the smallest boat in the area, and the shortest mast for 200 yards.
The weather will change, and we will enjoy one of the greatest sailing areas in America soon.

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”First Cities” at the Metropolitan museum

”First Cities” the exhibition now at the Metropolitan museum is a look at the great communities that arose and thrived in the fertile wedge that brought forth crops in the spring and stories to fill the seasons. Many of these ”First Stories” are ingrained through out the great religions of today.

The land between the Tigris and the Euphrates was silted over each flood period and became verdant when the water level dropped. The myths of the birth and death cycles can be found in the rhythm of these seasons. This was the land now called Iraq.
The vocabulary of images, idols and Gods is remarkable in their variations as well as their similarities. There is no question that these were an ancient people with long standing trade traditions. Beliefs as well as grain were traded freely. The show manages to point up the regional and individual cities traits that make each city stand out alone.

Certain rulers came to great power and skewed the regions wealth to put their gods to the forefront. High craftsmen kept ancient traditions and cities alive. The story tellers and craftsmen depicted their gods so beautifully that everyone in the region recognized and revered the story of that deity. This practice lasted and sustained the Byzantine mosaics and early Renaissance frescoes. These simple direct depictions of the gods created the first myths that traveled and took hold in the Mediterranean region.
The craftsmanship of the period is extraordinary in its precision and use of very simple tools. Lapis lazuli is used as the beard of a bull in the "Great Lyre" with bull's head and inlaid front panel, ca. 2550–2400 B.C. I love the scorpion god in the lower panel under the flowing Lapis Lazuli beard. In the "Standard of Ur," ca. 2550–2400 B.C.; Early Dynastic IIIA. Mesopotamia, Ur, (Click on ”Mesopotania” on the map.) The Lapis is used as a background to bring the white luster of the shell figures out in the light.

It was from these city states that the first laws were written. The first religions were transferred and assimilated by neighbors. After all when you are a good neighbor you support your friends even if you don’t buy their ideals. Isn’t that what we are all about? We claim to love freedom and the utmost freedom is of religion and that is why our government CANNOT take any oath, prayer or creed from any one religion. If we say ”In God We Trust” we have made a choice of one god over another. This goes against the freedom of religion. I’m sorry but the ”In God We Trust” that was put on our coins during WWII is hurtful to the republic. Acceptance of all Gods and credos is the only answer in a true democracy.

The ”First Cities” at the Metropolitan museum can help make the world understand that we are one people with similar yet gloriously different souls.


"Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives."

Abba Eban

I remember a story of King Arthur as a boy learning about the world from Merlin. Merlin would turn the young Arthur, who he referred to as “Wart”, into various animals. On one occasion Wart was turned into a bird. As he flew around Camelot Merlin asked him
"Wart, why do we have wars?"
"Because someone attacks," responds the young King Arthur.
"That’s right. They do it for boundaries," adds the Merlin.
"You humans just don’t understand," retorts Archimedes the Owl. He jerks his head in disgust and shakes out the irritation by vibrating his feathers. "You’re always killing off your own blood for those silly boundaries. You’re no smarter than an ant. You don’t realize that MIGHT DOESN’T ALWAYS MAKE RIGHT."
Arthur looks over at Archimedes, squinting his eyes as all children do when they’re very confused. "What are boundaries?"
"Imaginary lines on the earth," responds Archimedes. "When you’re a bird those stupid lines don’t exist. Of course we protect our home territories, but we do it in a different manner. We posture and squawk, but we don’t have gang wars against our own kind, like humans do
"Archimedes has a good point. When you see from a higher perspective, there are no boundaries, and so there’s no reason for fighting," says the Merlin.
Boundaries are very reason nations can exist but there was a time that the known world was made up of “city states. In the exhibition now at the Metropolitan museum there is a look at Mesopotamia’s ”First Cities”. The exhibit is from the heart of civilization, the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates, now called Iraq. The land now being readied for Bush’s attempt at ”nation Building. It was from these city states that the first laws were written. The Greek city states are what the west has patterned our architecture and our very form of government on.
The current “boundaries between Iraq, Iran and Turkey are now going to be looked at allot closer and the Iraq, Turkey border is going to contested either now or in the near future. The real boundaries are ethnic and religious and they sweep across the borders with little real consideration to the various ”nations”.
It may be that the ancient system of city states is more appropriate to the current situation. Look at the party in power here in the states. They take the view that states rights are equal to or more important than the nation and they have a point. Each region has its own needs and rights. Could Iraq be more unified with regions (states) of like minded people who then come together to form a nation? Where does it say that all the people in Iraq have to be one ”people”?
Even in Europe nations formed late and regions within countries are more important that the whole. Italy only became a nation 1861 (17 March 1861, Kingdom of Italy proclaimed; Italy was not finally unified until 1870)
Secular Arabs, Sunni’s and Shii need not be put into one pot and stewed together. It may be an easier solution for Bush and his “nation builders” but it is ultimately not up to them.


Manet/Velazquez at the Met

The Metropolitan museum currently is showing Manet/Velazquez through the end of June. The premise is that when in 1838, King Louis Philippe opened the Galerie Espagnole at the Louvre, placing on view his extraordinary collection of hundreds of Spanish paintings French painting changed and was forever influenced by the Spanish. Whether you buy the premise or not the exhibition is extraordinary. It has 150 paintings by Velázquez, Murillo, Ribera, El Greco, and Zurbarán and masterpieces by the 19th-century French artists they supposedly influenced, among them Delacroix, Courbet, Millet, Degas, and, of course, Manet. The exhibit also includes more than 30 works by American artists such as Sargent, Chase, Eakins, Whistler, and Cassatt, who studied in France. You can see the way the compositions influenced the French and the backgrounds were done the Spanish way. The exhibit works hard to pair like subjects and compositions but a look at the painting itself shows that the French painters had another idea of what art was to look like. The Spaniards painted in the way paintings had been done since the renaissance with finished surfaces and attention to detail all in a very realistic way. One look at Manet’s paintings and you can see the subject is the paint itself. Bold strokes of color make up the facial features and realism is left behind. Certainly all the painting have recognizable subjects and the Americas Eakins and Sargent go a long way towards realism but the brushstrokes in the cloths and backgrounds are pure paint.
This is not a one visit type exhibit for two reasons. One, it is just too large to be seen on one go round and the academic challenge the curator has set up is worth thinking about. In my opinion the curator has to work to develop his premise but it is not without merit. The obvious correlation is in the compositions and the use of color. The rich earth tones are used to create subjects that grow out of the canvasses.
These shows are almost impossible to be seen on weekends. An afternoon towards the beginning of the week is best and it will have more people in it than you hope then.
I know I will be back and then it will be on to ”Art of the First Cities”.

You’ve got to love city kids these days.

Walking down Madison Avenue on a Friday afternoon can be daunting. There are office workers dashing out of every doorway and charging for the subways the bus stops or running into the streets to steal the taxi that just pulled over for a fare. A peaceful stroll it isn’t. Just as I was getting into the pace of things along came a teenager in the bus lane kicking his skate board. Madison goes north he was heading south and paid no attention to the bus that brushed by him. Behind me came his buddies weaving in and out of the pedestrians who were unnerved by the trio zipping along the sidewalk. The last of this group was younger and doing his best to keep up. As he came to a corner a woman was brought up short because he swooped right in front of her and he never slowed his pace. He kicked a couple of times to get his speed up at the same time he reached into his pocket a opened his flip cell phone. From the sound of his voice it had to be his mother. I heard him say “Yes, we’re on our way.” Skate board, baggy pants and a cell phone. The tools of daily life for the New York teenager.


While listening to Elaine Pagels, she talked about a friend who had just died. She went to her church and the pastor asked if her friend was a “Christian” and she said “No”. She was told he was in HELL. She, of course, rejected this judgment.
When I was in Spain at Torrejon Air Force Base outside Madrid, attending “Catechism” we shared the church and the Sunday school with the Protestant and Jewish children. We were being taught about “original sin” and being told that only Catholics could be forgiven by God for our sins in the confessional. We had to clean up and get out because the Protestant Sunday school had to use the classroom in a couple of minutes. I asked (I was 8 years old) about the Protestants who were about to come into the class. I was told they couldn’t enter heaven because they didn’t believe as we did. From that day on religion became a study NOT a belief. After all how could the kid you played kickball with be a PAGAN and still be your friend? It couldn’t be true.
Elaine Pagels wrote the The Gnostic Gospels in 1979. Everyone has heard of the Quram’s Dead Sea Scrolls and their relation to the bible, to St. John and to Jesus. But the “Gnostic Gospels” are left out of the lexicon or canon. In 1945 a series of scrolls were unearthed that proved to be one of the earliest “gospels” of the Christian faith. They were banned and became a mark of rebellion for the “Gnostics”. This censorship forever marked the Christian faith. They allow for free thinking in relating your belief and the actual knowledge of the world. This was not allowed in the 3rd century. Christianity (there was only one “Christianity” in those days) was being dispersed to the masses in a very dogmatic and strict way. The Gnostic Gospels could not be part of the Bible because of their open relation to the hereafter and for their open reverence of the female in relation to God. I see a connection in the Gnostic Gospels to the matriarchal religions of the past as, I am sure, did the church “Fathers”. After all, hidden in the sands of Ephesus was the multi breasted statue of the last Goddess Artemis. She is last connection to great matriarchal religions and the Gnostic Gospels, also known as the Gospel of Thomas, acknowledged this.
How can we clean our desks off and make way for the next religious group after just hearing we are only ones to be able to get into heaven? How can we believe we will leave our good friends behind? How can this be true?
In a word. It CANNOT!! We are all children of this world. We are all children of Gaia.

“Bet you weren’t ready for that No! No! No!!” More to come.


You’ve gotta love the French.

The “shrub” decided to invade Iraq and Cherq told him to stuff it. It was more fun to see Putin slam Blair in Russia when he wasn’t expecting it but the French should have gone along. Well that’s what Bush thought. And now today the working class has taken to the streets to protest lengthening the time it take to pay into their retirement. We, the “Super Power” of the world don’t have the chance to even engage in the conversation. We have a shaky social security that we must pay into till we reach 63 and the payments are based on what we paid.
The workers in France have shut down the most of the transportation in the entire country with just the hint that they would have to work 2 more years for their pension. They do not let the government get away with the least infringement on their entitlements. Here in the “Super Power of the world there is no guarantee of any pension EVER. And let’s talk about health care. My friend “L” who works here on a green card knows that he has to get on a plane to France if he gets seriously ill. The major companies that he works for here take taxes out of his check and claim him as an employee but “L” is a freelancer and receives NO benefits from any of the major companies that hire him. Well he’s a foreigner. Yes but I am not. I work as an employee for a few major companies and because each of them claim me as an employee I cannot claim self-employment nor am I entitled to any of the healthcare the give to “permanent” employees. I am a self-employed person and I have to pay my own health care yet I am not allowed the deductions for the business I am running.
I applaud the workers of France for laying down the line that the government cannot cross. They have a strong economy and yes they pay a hefty tax burden. But their children can see a doctor when they are sick and when they get old there will be a pension to keep, them without watching state after state do away with medicade.
We have a welfare state that is in deep trouble caught between the right and the left wasting people’s lives and amazing amounts of money. As we watch the stubborn left and the righteous right decimate any chance for a middle ground we watch our President wage war in the name of the dead at ground zero. The bombing in Saudi Arabia put the lie to that. Al Qada is alive and well bombing the C**P out Iraq was NOT in the name of terrorism. He stands on the podium and takes the accolades for being a war hero while strapping us with debt that we may never repay.
Yes you gotta love the French.

The blog will be updated about 2-3 times aweek during the summer.


Now that Peregrine is in the water and safely tied to her mooring I can get back to some writing.

The recent earthquake in Turkey that took the lives of 83 children and the Tornadoes in the midwest remind us that we are here at the mercy of much larger forces. Our existence can be fleeting and we need to make the best of every minute.

I hope you all caught the Dixie Chicks cover on Entertainment Weekly. Seems the “Chicks” haven’t lost any fans after saying they were embarrassed by President Bush. The cover shows everything they were called during the flap. They had a lot to lose and they continued to speak their mind hoping their fans would stick with them well the tour looks to be a success. That they managed to compete with the wars headline is a testament to the strange mix of reality and entertainment that fills the media.

After fifty years the secret papers of Senator Joseph McCarthy have been released. It’s a period in U.S. history that continued to undermine the democracy here until the end of the Viet Nam war. The xenophobic fear of communism that led to the cold war and our entering the Viet Nam war is still with us. The 58,000 dead American soldiers and the countless Vietnamese killed came straight out of the madness that McCarthy embodied when he was allowed to destroy U.S. citizens. Not until that last helicopter left the roof of the U.S. embassy in Siagon was the era over. Why did it take fifty years to get these papers out in the open? We have know for decades that the “McCarthy era” was an evil and a mar on our democracy. These papers should be part of every high school civics class.


“My dictatorship has only one aim: to make any sort of new dictatorship impossible in Turkey”
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 1881-1938

Is there a new Ataturk to be found in Iraq? Carving a new republic out of the dying Ottoman Empire Ataturk turned his countries future towards the west. In the present political environment the one thing that’s stands out in his vision for his country is the complete and militant separation of religion and state. On a visit to Istanbul I wondered through the book bazaar and ended up in front of the university. There was a small protest going on in front of the university it seems Islamic women students wanted to wear scarves to cover their heads. This is seen by the government as an expression of religion that is not allowed in school, the workplace or any civic situation. The group on the steps of the school numbered less than a hundred to the untrained eye but in the plaza before the school were three phalanxes of riot police all decked out in the latest gear of lexan shields, kevlar vests and helmets with visors but they were not carrying batons but automatic rifles. This was over wearing scarves! Oh did I mention the TANK????
No an Atataurk will not emerge in Iraq. There will be no separation of religion and state in the newly “liberated” Iraq. Saddam tried to run the country in a fascist socialist manner and denied the populist of their religious freedom. The religious will find a way to celebrate their belief and they demonstrated that in Karbala by chanting beating themselves with iron whips and slamming their heads with swords till their white robes were covered with blood, all the while calling for U.S forces to get out of Iraq NOW!!. This, I’m sure, was not the welcome Bush was hoping for.
We pride ourselves in separating our government from our religion. The reason is to protect different religions from being suppressed by a government dominated by any one religion. Turkey separates the government from the religions to protect the government. Iraq will have to find a way to bring their different faiths in line with a governing system that can encompass all the people of the region. Not an easy task.


“The world is divided into two parts…
Those with boats and those without boats.”
Roy Fridge

A major part of my “Peregrination” is sailing. The blog has had to be put on the back burner while I have been getting Peregrine ready for launching.
We have had a cold spring after being teased in March with warm weather. The last few days have been warm and sunny so I have had to scramble and work every day on her. Now just one more coat of wax and…. SLASH!


It should be our care not so much to live a long life as a satisfactory one.
Seneca the Younger 3BC-65AD

Well now New Yorkers can have their cake and eat it too. A new study came out today claiming that,
New Yorkers Are Living Longer Than Ever Before
Tue April 22, 2003 05:32 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
Since 1990 the life expectancy of men in New York has grown seven years to 75 years old and woman can expect to live past 80. This exceeds the national average by 6 months. Who says New York isn’t a great place to live?
One reason is an over all emphasis on eating exercising. The other is the black population has made great strides in catching up on longevity although they lag behind the white population. Black males still die an average of 6 years before white males.
With Central Park available to everyone in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn there are wonderful places to workout or just play. The biggest addition in Manhattan has been Hudson River Park. The park is a long promenade from Battery Park past the the site of the World Trade Center and on up the Hudson to Harlem. It is protected from the west side traffic, has rest stops and a couple of refurbished piers so you can get out over the water. It’s too long in coming but the park has made the waterfront an inviting and fun place, finally.
I can remember the days before the park was in and running along the river to the World Trade Center meant running among parked cars and idling busses. Now it’s a paved and landscaped promenade. A bike trip from lower Manhattan can start at Battery Park City, up the west side to 60th St. then over to Columbus Circle and into Central Park. It’s about 4.5 miles to the park and one loop of the park is 6 miles so a 15 mile ride can bring you right back to where you started with only a couple a city blocks getting into and out of Central Park to contend with. Whether you do the ride on a “city” bike or a 10 speed racer it can be a good little workout.
A nice "Peregrination".
Yes it’s easier to live longer and still live in the greatest city in the world.


It’s Not Too Late to Face Reality

That’s from the The Arab News. The article written by Khaled Al-Maeena, Editor in Chief asks “God helps those who help themselves. What have the Arabs done to help themselves over the last 40 years?”. He looks at the opportunities that passed to modernize and prosper under the aegis of Islam.

As we watch hundreds of thousands of Shia convene on Karbala for the first time in 24 years the call for an Islamic government gets stronger and stronger. Watching a nation rise out anarchy is both fascinating and frightening. It seems like a task that has no end and, in a way, no beginning. But the religious gatherings of the faithful are a centerpoint right now. One can only wonder what the Sunni and the Kurds must be thinking.

The article goes on to say that with the ousting of Saddam a real opportunity to have a fresh start is within reach. The question is will old rivalries bring the euphoria down or will the people of Iraq see themselves as one nation and be tolerant of the different voices that will be expressed. The call for a government only ruled by “Sharia” is a response to the years of rule under Saddam. Just like the Iranians who reacted to years under a Shah that was supported by the US they are struggling to find a way between their faith and the modern world.
To a westerner, who has had a critical view of this war, it will be a lesson in civics and life to see how the Iraqi’s go forward. The chants of “Thanks allot now get out!!” should be heeded as soon as possible. Only the Iraqi people can find the road that leads to a nation of mixed races and creeds.
”The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it”
Nina Simone 1933 – 2003

“The High Priestess of Soul” wrote those words in 1963 in response to the bombing of a church in Birmingham in which four black children were killed. She sang the blues, protest songs and jazz all with her dark and moving voice. It was probably her rendition of “I Loves You Porgy” that brought the opera to the mainstream.
Embittered by racism, Nina Simone renounced her homeland in 1969 and became a wanderer, roaming the world. She lived in Liberia, in Barbados, Switzerland, France, Trinidad, the Netherlands, Belgium and UK at various times. Her “peregrination” led her to France like so many other black musicians.
She died yesterday at her home in Carry-le-Rouet, France.


“Human beings may use different religions to speak to God, as they use different languages to speak to one another. God understands them all.”
Bernard Lewis

That’s from the essay. “I’m Right, You’re Wrong, Go To Hell” Religions and the Meeting of Civilizations By; Bernard Lewis

A couple of days ago I used the phrase “Looking to our separate Gods to answer our deepest fears will keep us from finding a way where all people can live and grow together.” In his essay in the Atlantic Monthly he lays out how much the three great religions have in common and how we have grown apart. Bernard Lewis has great insights into the region and specializes in the relationship between the east and the west from time of the Ottoman empire till now. The essay is a bit long but worth the time.
The Muslims have good cause to suspect that we (the west) do not have good intentions in coming to Iraq or to any other Muslim country. We do not have a history of doing good deeds when we show up. And now we have come as an armed invader. Whether we had good cause or not the people of Iraq will continue to look at our presence with suspicion at least and dread at worst. That’s why we are hearing “Down with Saddam, Down with USA”. We have to remember the adults in Iraq remember quite well that Regan and Papa Bush supported and armed Saddam giving him the strength to fight Iran and suppress the people of Iraq. Also they remember too well being urged to rise up against Saddam by Papa Bush only to be led to slaughter.
In an article in Egypt Today, "The Sum of All Fears" which is a fairly amusing article about one families way of coping with the rising prices in Egypt this phrase is tossed off as an aside. “A brutal occupation of an Arab neighbor is on its way, and we have no say. Freedom and justice are under fire, and no one can stop it. Is there any hope for tomorrow?" The middle class of Egypt take it for granted the Iraq is now under a “brutal” occupation. How are we to reconcile this? I can see only one way. Make the peace work and get the peace in Isael going now even if that means a “regime change” for both the Palestinians and Israel. Neither Arafat or Sharon are prepared to move towards peace.


“They didn’t change with time.”

While reading an article in Tuesday’s Science Times Lost No More: An Etruscan Rebirth (registration required) I came across this passage.
“For all the Etruscans' arts and agriculture, their fine metalworking and commerce, Etruscan power and grip on the Italian peninsula began to decline in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. I am absolutely convinced one of the main reasons they weren't successful in the long run was that their society was static, didn't change with time,"

The Etruscan era lasted from about 700BC (CE) to about 100BC (CE), 600 hundred years, with the height of their civilization being about 550BC (CE). If their weakness was clinging on to their past there is a lesson for all of us to learn. As the rise of fundamentalist groups in all of the three great religions tries to drag us back into the past we should look to civilizations that faded from memory. In Iraq the Shia are trying to grab power that has been denied them by the Baath Party while the Reverend Billy Graham is intent on getting to devastated Iraq with a message of Jesus in one hand while holding food and medicine in the other. The Israelis in the meantime insist that “God” gave them the land justifying the settlements in the west bank.

How can we move ahead when we cling to our Gods of the past? How can we live in a “global” village and still claim our Gods are better than your Gods? The situation in Iraq will bring this flaw into sharp focus. The US has invoked the name of the western God in its right to bring down a government. The Shia of southern Iraq will insist on a government ruled by the laws of sharia and Israel sits in the middle of all this with government dominated by an increasingly fundamentalist and militant bent.
The Republican party of the US has been co-opted by the Christian Right and this is the government that wants to bring Iraq into the “light” of democracy.

From the Times article.
The philosopher Seneca, in the first century A.D., may have had an explanation for the Etruscans' inability to take charge of themselves and change.
“This is the difference between us Romans and the Etruscans," Seneca wrote. "We believe that lightning is caused by clouds colliding, whereas they believe that clouds collide in order to create lightning. Since they attribute everything to gods, they are led to believe not that events have a meaning because they have happened, but that they happen in order to express a meaning.”

Looking to our separate Gods to answer our deepest fears will keep us from finding a way where all people can live and grow together. The Etruscans reached their height 200 years after they first emerged on the scene. America was founded a mere 200 years ago.

In the reading list to the left you will find Karen Armstrong’s ”The Battle for God” in it she chronicles the rise of fundamentalism in all three of the mono-theistic religions. Each religion has its fundamentalists, the Muslims are not unique in this. Each religion is trying to cling to the past where life was easy to define by attributing everything to the Gods.


What we don’t know WILL hurt us.

U.S. Seen on Brink of Iraq's Religious “Snakepit” A headline that ignores the “hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people. If you search the web you will find story after story on the death of Abdul Majid al-Khoei who was brought to the holy city of Najaf by U.S. Special Forces. You will find variation after variation with little agreement on who killed him and why. His exile in the U.S. did not help him and may have been the reason for his death. And then there is the siege of Grand Ayatollah Sistani who was surrounded and told he had 48 hours to leave Iraq. Leading Shi'a circles have blamed a hitherto little known group, the Jama'at as-Sadr as-Thani for the murder and the armed threat against the ayatollahs. WHO?? This group is led by Muqtada as-Sadr, the 22 year-old-son of another revered ayatollah, the late Mohammad Sadiq as-Sadr, who was killed by Saddam's regime in 1999. Aren’t the Shii glad we ousted Saddam? If so, why are they now killing each other and killing a man who hid in the U.S. Siege of Shiite Clerics Over That siege seems to have ended peacefully and we haven’t a clue as to why it ended. It does seem like the siege started with the rumor that Grand Ayatollah Sistani issued a Fatwa urging the country's Shia community not to hinder the U.S. and British invading armies. Apparently backing the U.S./British invasion is a death sentence. All of this points up just how hard the next phase of Iraq’s future will be.
Papa Bush urged the Shii to rise up against Saddam in 1991 then left hundreds of thousands to die when he left them helpless. He backed away because he saw the quagmire of trying sort out the various factions looming ahead. Now that the Shrub (Papa “Bush”, the son is the “Shrub”! Please tell me you’ve already heard that.) anyway, now that the Shrub has attacked and removed the government of a sovereign nation he must try to restore order and help the people put a new government in place. Bringing Abdul Majid al-Khoei to Najef from the U.S. was a feeble and disastrous first step.

If you are new to this blog you might read from the bottom up as that's how the posts are listed.


When I saw the headline Iraq National Museum Treasures Plundered I wasn’t surprised but was dismayed just the same. The museum's most famous holding may have been tablets with Hammurabi's Code, one of mankind's earliest codes of law along with “The Ram in the Thicket” from Ur, a statue representing a deity from 2600 BC. It seems the army did park a couple of tanks at the entrance to the museum but they were needed elsewhere and then the looting started and lasted two days. What objects couldn’t be carried out were smashed. Looters also plundered Mosul University's library, with its rare ancient manuscripts. The library was ransacked despite appeals broadcast from the minarets of the city's mosque to halt the destruction. This is war is not a triumph it is destructive and the effects will be long lasting. I don’t condone the selling of antiquities that belong to nations but in this case I suggest anyone who is offered something that they buy it if they can. At least it be taken care of and may find its way back to a museum when the estate is sold. Otherwise if the looters can’t sell the objects they will get rid of them mostly by destroying them. Unfortunately most of the artifacts will be melted down if they are gold or gotten rid of because the looters won’t be able to find buyers. Some will sit in the closets and selves of the looters for years to come. It will be a bit of irony if some of the pottery goes back into use in the kitchens of the Iraqi’s serving up the evening meal.


The afternoon news had a shot of a rally taking place at the World Trade Center (I still refuse to call it “Ground Zero”) being held to support our troops. Soon after the news I could hear the roar from home so I decided to walk south along the Hudson to take a look. It was a serious pro war rally. It’s been cold and today was in the low 40’s with a brisk wind but the sun was out. A few joggers were out but the further south I got the cops out numbered the passerby’s. Another good OT day for the men and women in blue. As I got to Battery Park I entered a large group gathered around LED screens and loud speakers showing the dais and the speakers. There were more hardhats, Carhart jackets, steel toed boots and satin union jackets in one place than I had ever seen. The union jackets were from the teamsters, carpenters and of course the steel workers. If they didn’t have an American flag sticker on their hardhats they had “these colors don’t bleed” T-shirts on or they were carrying small flags. Quite a few had full sized flags. There were plenty of the black POW flags in view as well. Then I saw where all the colors were coming from. Venders of the tees, flags and bumper stickers were doing a brisk business. I felt like the mouse at a cat convention.
I got to the first set of speakers and LED screens in time to hear Gov. Pataki in his shrill falsetto proclaim that the war had started here at “Ground Zero” on 9/11 and had ended in Baghdad. A claim that will come back to haunt us. By combining the 9/11 attack with the Iraqi war we carve out a path for Osama (remember him?) to take the defeat of Iraq and make it the basis for more terrorism. He then went on to say the statue of Saddam that had been torn down (see yesterdays blog) should be melted down and turned into one the beams that will become the new World Trade Center, a building to surpass all others in design and height. Yes it’s supposed to be the worlds tallest building. Just like the American troops taking over the tearing down of the statue yesterday Pataki doesn’t get it. It wasn’t torn down to be part of the rebuilding in New York! It was torn by and for the Iraqi people. As he was saying the words I was ahead of him filling the space with “melted into plowshares” or some such rot but I never thought he would advocate melting it down to put into the new World Trade Center. The members of the AFL/CIO thought it was a great sentiment. Actually I don’t think they give a shit. Some one knocked down our building and we are kicking some one’s ass that’s all they need and want to know. And as far as melting down that statue that will be fine as long as the building of the worlds tallest building starts soon. Over time is all that matters. They got a fortune digging out the rubble and they will make another building its replacement. The bigger the better.
The next speaker was Bob Dole and he carried on the theme of the war starting on 9/11 and he had the guts to invoke the names and families of the recently killed soldiers in Iraq. A timeless and shameless practice of politicians past and present. I was embarrassed for him.
Yes it was a rally to support our troops. It was also a rally to slam home the pain of 9/11 and connect it to a despot that had NO hand in that terrible day.
We will never forget 9/11 and those that conceived it should be brought to justice.
The war in Iraq did nothing to bring justice home. It is an insult to everyone who suffered on that day to say that the war in Iraq is the payback.

They say "Paybacks are M.....F....ers" but Iraq ain't it.


"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." - T.S. Elliot.

It’s a quote that has been floating around the web for most of the day. There was that extraordinary footage of the crowd standing around the statue of Saddam. First a couple of guys tried to rip off the plaque at the base with their bare hands taking turns whipping the plaque back and forth so it would break off, then some one brought a sledge hammer and the men took turns bashing away at the base of the statue. Some of the blows broke big chunks off and some just bounced off harmlessly. I thought if they stayed with it they would work through the concrete and bring the entire thing crashing down. Soon a ladder showed up and three young men climbed the plinth and were tying the biggest rope I’ve seen around the figure and were trying to tie a knot in it. These were heroic acts of plain men doing their best to show they could topple a symbol with what they had on hand and have their day.
Then… Well then the American troops decided to get into the act. They brought up a tank with a crane arm and looped a heavy chain over Saddam’s head and proceeded to yank the statue off its plinth. It was no problem for a tank with a crane. It was America yet again not understanding the moment. If only the Iraqi’s had been left to their own devices I am sure they would have torn the statue from its perch and made the moment their own.
To be fair the soldiers had been fighting and dying up till then and were entitled to the relief of smashing a few things and to howl out loud. At least some one figured out draping the statue in an American flag was a bad idea and the old Iraqi flag took its place.
Each of these moments will be watched by the entire world. Peter Jennings actually got it and told his entire staff (on air) that he wanted no talking during the tearing down of the statue. It was the only footage on ALL the news feeds and he knew the world was watching. From now on the world will be watching the events even closer than the war itself.

“The end is where we start.”

If you are new to this blog you might read from the bottom to the top as the posts are placed in that order.


Cradle of civilization.
Between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates (in Arabic, the Dijla and Furat, respectively), the first writing gave birth to history as we know it. The rule of law was written down and the three great monotheistic religions trace their origins there.
In 1992 Michael Wood hosted a series called “Legacy” on PBS. In the film he is found at dusk perched on a mound with the sun setting behind him, as the camera booms down a plain filled with mounds as far as one could see becomes visible. All of them tells, the first cities. The film carries that archaeological past into the present of Islam, showing the cultural continuity from past to present. Included are scenes from the Gulf War and how Saddam Hussein used the Iraqi past as foundation for his dominance. It leaves the question of what’s next unanswered.

Latter in 1995 after the Americans were long gone he went back. He made “Saddam's Killing Fields” an award winning account of the destruction of the Marsh Arabs of South Iraq and their cultural history. It pieces together evidence of the systematic destruction by the Iraqi government of the Shia Marsh Arabs - whose way of life goes back 5,000 years. “Saddam's Killing Fields” claims that the Shia and the Kurds in northern Iraq were encouraged by the US to rise up against Saddam's regime at the end of the Gulf War and then left with no support. In retaliation, more than 300,000 Shia are believed to have been killed, risking the ruin of an entire culture.

At the end of this war Iraq is going to be a pretty broken country. Between the policies of Saddam and the punishing way the west dealt with the end of the 1991 war with sanctions depriving the people of anything but poverty, there will be a certain amount of anarchy that no one will be able to quell. The surrounding country’s have their knives close at hand if America gets too possesive. America now has it’s hands around a significant part of the Arab world. First “saving” Kuwait from the evil doer and Afghanistan from the evil doers. Pakistan is a wildcard with little control over the fundamentalists and the army. Their hatred for India could be a terrible spark and nukes ARE involved.

Maybe it’s time to look deep into Iraq’s ancient past. King Abdullah !! of Jordan represents the last of the Hashemite Royal Family. A line that leads back to Abraham and King Abdullah II's branch of the Hashemite Family ruled the holy city of Mecca from 1201 CE until 1925 CE. He is a young man but he has his father’s voice.


I know it looks like I posted everything today but I had to rebuild the blog, so I reposted everything after I got this one up and running. I think it’s at the same address so you should be able to find your way. I don’t really know how to write HTML and I destroyed the last one. Besides I like the look of this format better.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name.
I saw an article in the Times, "The Rural Opposition: Protesting Where Everybody Knows Your Name". It's about some people protesting the war in a small town in Minnesota. Here in NYC I marched with 200,000 people and except for running into a couple friends I felt totally anonymous. Standing in a small town dressed in black with candles is an act of bravery that none of the marchers in New York will never know. It's hard to stand up for what you believe where everyone knows you. You could lose friends or be isolated, and in a small town that would be very hard. The article also said they took the signs off their lawns when the bombing started because they had friends who had children in the Army. The woman said "I don't want Lydia to have to drive by my house and see that sign," she said of Mrs. O'Connor. "I don't want to make her daily life any more difficult than it already is." It is after all a small town.
“War! Good God! What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing!”
Soul singer Edwin Starr, who topped the charts in 1970 with his fiery, iconic, anti-war song "War," died of a heart attack on Friday at his home in Nottingham, England; he was sixty-one. There had been quite a few anti war songs in those years but “War” was powerful, danceable and had a great bass line. Dissent was badge to be worn proudly.
Susan Sontag in an interview with Bill Moyer’s said “United We Stand” is a terrible slogan. Democracy only works with differing opinions coming to a compromise. We are now told that to dissent is to be unpatriotic.
When John Kerry called for a “regime change” here he was and still being called unpatriotic. Well who has a better right than John Kerry. Kerry fought in VietNam and when he got home he woke up. He became co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America and became a spokesperson for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Every Vietnam vet has the right to speak up when a bunch of ideologues decide to start a war.
Edwin Starr had it right.
“War! Good God! What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing!”
The White House has conducted an Easter Egg Roll since 1877. It was cancelled in 1917 during WWI and in 1942 during WWII. This year the Bush’s will only invite families of the troops involved in the fighting in Iraq. Usually there are about 40,000 children and adults involved but this year it will be cut down to 12,000.
Can you hear the speeches? “Kids, this is the man who sent your Daddies off to war. Now have fun finding those eggs!”
Easter is one of the times of the year that points up just how bizarre the Christian religion can be. Just how did the death and resurrection of Christ get to be represented by fuzzy rabbits and colored eggs? I suppose you can blame it on St. Paul. Opening up the new religion to the Hellenistic world brought all the pagan rituals with it. Spring was always a time of celebration of fertility and rebirth. No better time than the spring to celebrate the rebirth of Christ as long as those rabbits and eggs got to be part of the festivities.
The question before us now is will the Iraqi people see the end (death?) of the Hussein “regime” as a time for rebirth?
From the Merriam Webster Dictionary

Main Entry: per•e•grine
Pronunciation: 'per-&-gr&n, -"grEn
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin peregrinus, from Latin, foreign
Date: 14th century
: having a tendency to wander

Welcome to my voyage