Monthly Archives: July 2009

Alarm Call

2009 jan to 04march kids, spider, batik, videos, etc 036

Today I got an alarm call.  With the successive late nights I’ve had my system finally crashed.  Well, I nearly crashed.  I was driving with the kids in the back and for a few seconds I was out — the next moment I opened my eyes I was on the wrong side of the road and about to hit a pole!  I got a huge fright and swerved back in my lane.  The kids asked “Why did you go ‘Aaaah!’ Daddy?”  They didn’t notice that I had briefly dozed off.

Luckily I had already gotten off the highway when this happened, and was moving at less than 20 kph (I think).  We were by then on a quiet road a few blocks from home, before the paved road ends and our miserable dirt road starts.  Because it is a partly rural area where we live, there are usually very few road users.

I use the term “road users” here not just for people or the usual dog or cat.  It includes the odd trotting horse (with or without a rider), pet sheep, goat, bunny and occasionally a splendid peacock and his harem of peahens (think of The Muppets’ Gonzo and his chickens).

Oh, I should add a pair of llamas to that list.  Some enterprising neighbour has them for the valued fur.  They seem too smart for him though and have escaped at least twice from his flimsy fence.

Moral of the story:  sleep at home.  Errr… or is that drink lots and lots of coffee?  Hmmm, somebody has to help me here.

Scars 1

Something I wrote over ten years ago got a very good friend’s brain cells going.  It was a short poem called “The Scar Examined at Midnight.”  The friend has this secret identity – like super heroes, yes! – and he has decided to call himself John Ecko.  He writes amazing poetry which he then constructs into stunning typographic images – concrete poetry is the common term, but John prefers visual poetry.  His Eckovision site is tons of fun and I highly recommend visiting it.

Ooops, forgot what I was going to say.   John made a very clever visual poetry interpretation of the poem of mine and has posted it on his site.

Here is the LINK.   Click on the poem to get the jpeg version which you can then read in an enlarged version.

Thanks a million John Ecko!!!!!

A bit of trivia.  I typed up eckovision and it turns out there was a cool tv some decades back with the same name.

I wouldn’t mind having that.  I miss black and white television.

“The Disneyfication of War” – George Monbiot

I read this article years ago and just recently bumped into it again.  Thought it was a good read then and hopefully it still is  now.



The Disneyfication of war allows us to ignore its real savagery

By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 24th October 2006.

Most of our memorials sentimentalise war. Few commemorate the horror. But now we have a new category, whose purpose seems to be to trivialise it.

Last week a vast bronze sculpture was unveiled in Montrose on the east coast of Scotland by Prince Andrew. It depicts a hero of the second world war, wearing a seaman’s cap, who was decorated with “the equivalent of the George Cross”. It’s a bit late, perhaps, but otherwise unsurprising – until I tell you that the hero was a dog. The statue depicts a St Bernard called Bamse, which reputedly rescued two Norwegian sailors. It is the latest manifestation of the new Cult of the Heroic Animal.

The Imperial War Museum is currently running an exhibition called “The Animals’ War”. It features stuffed mascots, tales of the “desperate plight” of 200 animals trapped by the fighting in Iraq, and photos of dogs wearing gas masks. It tells us about the “PDSA Dicken Medal – the Animals’ Victoria Cross”, which has been awarded to 23 dogs, 32 pigeons, three horses and one cat for “acts of conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in wartime.” The museum resounds with cries of “aaah!” and “how sweet!”. War is now cute.

Last year, Disney released an animation called Valiant, about the heroics of a group of messenger pigeons in World War Two. In 2004, a vast sculpture was unveiled by Princes Anne in Park Lane in London, called “Animals at War”. It cost £1.5 million, and it is dedicated “to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns throughout time … From the pigeon to the elephant they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom. Their contribution must never be forgotten.” In Liverpool there are now two statues commemorating a dog – Jet – used to find victims of air raids in the Second World War.

I have no objection to remembering the suffering of animals. If someone started a subscription for a statue of a battery pig or a broiler chicken (conveniently forgotten by almost everyone) I might even contribute. But the emphasis given to animals’ suffering in war suggests a failure to acknowledge the suffering of human beings. The tableau in Park Lane carries the justifying motto “They had no choice”. Nor did the civilians killed in Iraq, the millions of women raped over the centuries by soldiers, or the colonial subjects who died of famine or disease in British concentration camps. You would scour this country in vain for a monument to any of them.

Bamse has been dead for 62 years. Both the Park Lane memorial and the exhibition at the Imperial War Museum were inspired by a book by Jilly Cooper – the patron saint of English bourgeois sentiment – called Animals in War(4,5). But it was first published in 1983. It is only since the invasion of Iraq that this disneyfication of war seems to have become a major industry.


No Apologies

F1020003I know, I’ve been posting stuff from other people recently.  I have been a bit busy sending manuscripts and writing new poems.

I have more work to be published in a forthcoming issue of GUD (Greatest Uncommon Denominator) Magazine – perhaps by sheer perseverance.  I bombarded them with over thirty poems, if I remember correctly, and they have been very kind and patient with me throughout the editorial process.

This has encouraged me to try out other literary magazines.  It is a tough world out there, but somehow it seems easier to swallow rejection slips over the internet than through snail mail.   And so I forge on, sending these messages in fragile bottles.

Imagine me on a beach full of stranded bottles, each one with a poem.  I should go into the recycling business.

SECOND Viva Palestina aid convoy enters Gaza


The Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy enters the Gaza Strip, breaking the deadly Israeli blockade imposed on 1.5 million Palestinians for a second time.

The American aid convoy carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of supplies for the people of Gaza crossed the Rafah border on Wednesday upon receiving permission from Cairo after a 10-day delay.

The 200 activists are allowed to stay in the coastal territory only for 24 hours, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Viva Palestina activists, all Americans, including Charles Barron, a New York City Councilman, say that they have been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing for about 10 days despite earlier arrangements.

The humanitarian aid convoy consisting of 50 vehicles is the second organized by British Member of Parliament and Press TV presenter George Galloway.

Egyptian Authorities Allow Themselves to be Israel’s Border Cops

The Egyptian government has disrupted a convoy of solidarity activists bringing needed humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Members of Viva Palestina report that officials stopped buses carrying part of the group’s delegation as they attempted to cross into the Sinai region on the way to the Rafah border crossing, where activists plan to enter Gaza with their aid convoy.


For ongoing updates, visit the Viva Palestina-U.S. Web site.

Solidarity activists in the U.S. are preparing for possible protests outside Egyptian embassies and consulates if the convoy isn’t allowed to travel. Contact organizations locally for more details.

Contact the Egyptian embassy and ask that the Viva Palestina convoy be allowed to make its journey to Gaza without further delays. Call 202-966-6342, fax 202-244-4319 and e-mail reporter Eric Ruder and a number of contributors to this Web site are part of the Viva Palestina convoy. You can read blogs from some at

Bush’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Witness Found Dead


The cover-up of Bush-era crimes is taking a shocking but not unexpected turn. A fateful move has been made and it is certain to backfire.

A prisoner who was horribly tortured in 2002 until he agreed – at the demand of Bush torturers – to say that al-Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein is suddenly dead. Several weeks ago, Human Rights Watch investigators discovered the missing inmate and talked to him. He had been secretly transferred by the administration to a prison in Libya after having been held by the CIA both in secret “black hole prisons” and in Egypt.

Under conditions of extreme torture, the prisoner, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, agreed in 2002 to supply the Bush-ordered interrogators what they sought as a political cover for Bush’s marketing of the pending war of aggression against Iraq. Mr. Libi agreed to tell them whatever they wanted in exchange for an end to the torture. The now famous Torture Memos providing legal cover for the torture were written at the same time starting in the summer of 2002.

Libi’s tortured and knowingly fabricated testimony was the source of information used by Bush to sell the war to the U.S. Senate, and the source for Colin Powell’s bogus and lying presentation to the United Nations in 2003.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice are now running around saying that the torture regime “protected the country from terrorist attack.” But the torture was used for the personal political goals of Bush and Cheney: namely, to sell their Iraq invasion to a very skeptical and disbelieving country.

Having been discovered by human rights investigators two weeks ago, Mr. Libi’s story coincided with the release of the Torture Memos and the growing clamor for criminal prosecutions of Bush officials.

His testimony is the smoking gun that would reveal that the torture regime was not for “national security” but for the personal political aims of Bush and Cheney.

He was Exhibit A in the indictment that alleges that tortured confessions and the contrived legal justifications of torture set up by Justice Department lawyers in July/August 2002 were central to the launch of the war against Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. service members have either been killed or badly wounded in a war that was based on lies fortified and promoted by the most sadistic torture.