Thursday, April 26, 2007

Riverbend - Walls and Weariness

Riverbend posted a grim entry:
The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently- Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas"...

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.
She also says that she and her family will try to leave Iraq:
So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees- the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare- stay and wait and try to survive.

On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else- as yet unknown- is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?

The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends… And to what?

It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.
I literally cannot imagine having to leave my home and country with what I can carry and be a refugee.

Damn you, George Bush. Damn you to Hell. Better yet, damn you to Iraq. I think that you should be shipped to Baghdad and left there without your money and your friends and your rescuers, and made to live in the abyss you created. Riverbend and her family should be given your ranch as atonement for your crimes against them.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Paul Krugman - A Hostage Situation

From his New York Times column today. Paul nails it perfectly:

There are two ways to describe the confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over funding for the Iraq surge. You can pretend that it’s a normal political dispute. Or you can see it for what it really is: a hostage situation, in which a beleaguered President Bush, barricaded in the White House, is threatening dire consequences for innocent bystanders — the troops — if his demands aren’t met.

If this were a normal political dispute, Democrats in Congress would clearly hold the upper hand: by a huge margin, Americans say they want a timetable for withdrawal, and by a large margin they also say they trust Congress, not Mr. Bush, to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq.

But this isn’t a normal political dispute. Mr. Bush isn’t really trying to win the argument on the merits. He’s just betting that the people outside the barricade care more than he does about the fate of those innocent bystanders...

What I haven’t seen sufficiently emphasized, however, is the disdain this practice shows for the welfare of the troops, whom the administration puts in harm’s way without first ensuring that they’ll have the necessary resources.

As long as a G.O.P.-controlled Congress could be counted on to rubber-stamp the administration’s requests, you could say that this wasn’t a real problem, that the administration’s refusal to put Iraq funding in the regular budget was just part of its usual reliance on fiscal smoke and mirrors. But this time Mr. Bush decided to surge additional troops into Iraq after an election in which the public overwhelmingly rejected his war — and then dared Congress to deny him the necessary funds. As I said, it’s an act of hostage-taking.

Actually, it’s even worse than that. According to reports, the final version of the funding bill Congress will send won’t even set a hard deadline for withdrawal. It will include only an “advisory,” nonbinding date. Yet Mr. Bush plans to veto the bill all the same — and will then accuse Congress of failing to support the troops.

The whole situation brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln said, in his great Cooper Union speech in 1860, about secessionists who blamed the critics of slavery for the looming civil war: “A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, ‘Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!’ ”

Friday, April 20, 2007

Five Years in the Making

Last night, I posted the last alpha chapter of Hands of the King for my betas to start taking a whack at. It was a strangely deflating feeling. This is something I've been writing for about five years, having begun it in September 2002.

I'm not done yet. I still have rewrites and edits to do on the last twenty or so chapters which are pretty rough, then I will post one chapter per week until they are all out there. That should take me until sometime in late September/early October.

But it is odd to wrap up a work that has been a part of my life for so long.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sigh, Have to Upgrade

I've been trying to avoid upgrading to the new Blogger system. Not because I think it's bad but because it's just another damn thing I have to do. Today, they wouldn't let me log in to the old pages and forced an upgrade.

I haven't been blogging much lately because:
  • Trying to get the final chapters of HotK written. I'm 3/4 of the way through the last chapter. Then I do my rewrite of the unpublished part and post that sucker. Go me!
  • Helping an ill parent, who had a bad health scare but is doing better
  • Big projects at work, all hitting full-speed at once. Just call me the queen of multi-tasking.
  • Nasty infected tooth. It was pulled today (I have all the pieces!) and I'm on some serious pain killers.
  • Political news hasn't needed much commentary. Instead, it has been popcorn munching time as the Dems begin to use their majority status to methodically expose Rethuglican corruption.
  • House buying continues apace. Still looking, have a back-up offer in, the market in San Diego is insane.
When the story wraps up, I intend to get back to more regular blogging.


LTC Bob Bateman on Guns

One of my favorite guest contributors to Altercation, Eric Alterman's almost daily blog, is Lt. Col. Bob Bateman. He's someone who takes time to think. Even when I disagree with him (and I do a good amount of the time), he's a pleasure to read. Today, I couldn't agree with him more:

I am sick of stories about guns, and how the blessed Founding Fathers wanted every little patriot baby to grow up with a Kentucky long-rifle over the mantle. It is a lie. It is a myth. The very idea is a concoction by people who want to believe something, regardless of the facts, and the fact that the lie has deep roots does not make it any more accurate.

I am sick of stories about people who claim that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Bullshit. You do not see 70+ people, or even 40, or 20 ... or, (you get the picture) randomly gunned down in any of the countries where the tools of violence are confined to the authorities.

I am sick of idiots with an agenda pretending that what happened at Virginia Tech is not because we have too many damned guns in this country. Muzzle-loading blackpowder rifles, single-shot breech-loading hunting rifles, and single-barrel breech-loading shotguns, and that is about it, are all that should be allowed. Those tools can be used, legitimately, to hunt. You want more, move. Leave the United States to those who know the difference between something that is useful for hunting, and something that replaces the manhood you never attained. If you want more, join the Army. If you can't do that, and if you still want something that reloads quickly and gives you plenty of shots, BUY A DAMNED BOW!

But what really puts me over the top is one particular brand of NRA stupidity. That is the myth of the Wild West. In other words, if I hear one more stupid gun-loving sonuvabitch talk about how, "Well, if they just had allowed all those students to have guns, this lunatic at Virginia Tech wouldn'ta got far," I am going to slap his dumb ass on the first plane smokin' for Iraq, where I would like to personally drop him off, with as many guns as he would like, in Dora (that's a particularly nasty South Baghdad neighborhood with which I am familiar).

Yes, Dora would be perfect. In my mind's eye I am imagining plopping said gun nut off outside the blue-painted major police sub-station, just about six or seven blocks from another walled-in compound which is now a police barracks (or, at least it was, last year.). As a microcosm, Dora should be the NRA's dream town, as it perfectly matches the NRA "Wild West" theory of what is needed in a society: honor is important to the individual; the family is the most important part of society; all of the inhabitants are very religious (except for when they are not); and absolutely everyone has at least one gun.

In fact, I would very much like to personally place the CEO of the NRA, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, there right now. What'ya say, Wayne? Want to experience a world where everyone has a gun? C'mon, buddy, I'll even let you hump the pig.

(That means, "Carry the M-240 7.62 mm machine gun," people. Get your minds out of the gutter.)

OK, I'm calmer now.

Not much else to add to that except, "Yup."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Catblogging

My cat likes high places.

The kitty enjoys being a living gargoyle.

Big picture:

The top of the china cabinet is a favorite hang-out spot.

The china cabinet is about six feet tall. She likes to sleep up there at night were the air is warmer and where she can look out the windows to the ally. She gets up there by jumping to the top of the built in cabinet you can see in the background and then leaping about three feet over and two and half feet up to the top of the china cabinet.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

HotK - Ch. 59: Exchange

For the fanfiction readers, on March 30th I posted a chapter for Hands of the King, Ch. 59 - Exchange. Click on the story title to go to the overview, click on the chapter name to go to the chapter.

2 of 2 Denethor POV's. Warning for brief but explicit sex scene.

Umbar looms on the horizon and Denethor must enter into a number of exchanges to get what he needs. Words, thoughts, lessons, promises, kisses, vows, blows and confessions. Some given, some taken, all have their price.

Significant scenes with Halmir, Finduilas, Thorongil, Brandir, Morwen, and Ecthelion.

This is the last chapter of Hands of the King that will be published for a while. I have not abandoned the story. To the contrary, I am currently writing the very last chapter.

I began writing this story in September of 2002. I had no idea when I began what a tale would need to be told. What was originally planned as a brief, 12 chapter break from my Shire series grew into this.

There are approximately 20 unpublished chapters of HotK that are being revised and put in final form. I hope to have this finished some time in May. After that I will be posting a chapter a week until all are available.