Tuesday 20 January 2009

"Hit the Road, Jack!"

No need to even say who this number is dedicated to!

I simply couldn't resist posting this little bit of jazzy irony at this very moment...especially when you see who's singing! (Although I must admit it's also good to see how both the outgoing and incoming Presidents themselves, and their wives, have all been quite cordial to each other today and apparently throughout this transition.)

By the way, "Jazz On the Tube" picked this as their theme song for the big party kickin' off, not just in America, but in fact, all over the world! And, if you like jazz - no matter what your political persuasion - you can go there to subscribe for a new free jazz video, every day!


Saturday 17 January 2009

It was so cold (back in Goshen Indiana last weekend) that...

(Photo taken by Julia King at her home around midnight January 17, 2009 - Goshen, Indiana)

It Was So Cold That...

- hitchhikers were holding up pictures of their thumbs.

- Starbucks was serving coffee on a stick.

- Boy Scouts were offering to de-ice little old ladies.

- UN weapons inspectors suddenly decided that chemical weapons might be hidden in Hawaii.

- the anticipation of waiting for the ketchup to come out of the bottle lasted three whole months.

- roosters were rushing into Kentucky Fried Chicken and begging to use the pressure cooker.

- when I dialed 9-1-1, a recorded message said to phone back in the spring.

- the squirrels in the park were throwing themselves at an electric fence.

- words froze in the air: If you wanted to hear what someone said, you had to grab a handful of sentences and take them in by the fire.

- when I got sick, my wife made me a block of chicken soup.

- kids' grades seem to be improving at school: when you apply the wind chill factor, a 57% looks like 93%.

- the cosmetics counter at Wal-Mart was selling cream for goosebumps.

- hockey games added a new penalty: when players stopped moving when they had the puck, it was called "De-icing."

- my wife invented a new dessert: Jell-O Crunch.

- the radio was broadcasting iceberg warnings to motorists.

- I figured if I got lost, the only good thing would be how well preserved I'd be when somebody finally found me.

- they took down the sign that said "Water Park" and put up a new one that said "Luge Run."

- instead of yelling "Freeze!", cops are yelling "Go outside!"

- we traded in the family car for a zamboni.

- the Post Office changed its motto: they decided that there ARE some things that can keep them from their appointed rounds!

- skateboards actually work pretty good without the wheels.

- it took me two hours to walk up the street: my shadow kept freezing to the sidewalk.

- my car wouldn't run, but my nose wouldn't stop.

- the City Council voted to weatherstrip the town limits.

- President Bush has been telling even more outrageous lies, hoping his pants might catch on fire.

Living Gently in a Violent World

Monday 12 January 2009

Dissident Jewish Voices for Peace

Jewish Voices for Peace - urges us to thank Jon Stewart for his courageous stance on his January 5 edition of "The Daily Show" regarding the crisis in Gaza.

He made clear what should be obvious, that bombing and killing won't bring peace for Israelis or Palestinians. I felt he spoke for a great many people in other parts of the world, as well, including me.

While almost all of the mainstream news in the United States up until then had reported the story without any context whatsoever, repeating the lie that this is a simple case of Israel defending its people against irrational attacks, it was Jon Stewart, who got it right.

He talked about the "soul-crushing" siege of Gaza, the occupation that has forced Palestinians to go through checkpoints to do anything at all, and the perverse logic of trying to "get a war in" just before Obama's inauguration.

Watch the video clip or read the transcript and send him your thanks

And this comes today from "Jewish Peace News":

In addition to containing information and analysis about the war in Gaza, the following pieces feature dissident voices – voices that offer a very significant challenge to any myth that Americans or Israelis uniformly support the carnage taking place. The first piece below reports and analyzes a remarkable undertow of US opinion that is hostile to the war, a report that reveals a striking disconnect between (particularly Democratic) voters and our representatives.

The second piece is a letter from Naamika Zion, a member of Kol Aher, a peace group in Sderot, who makes a strong and eloquent argument / plea: “Not in my name and not for me you went to war. The current bloodbath in Gaza is not in my name and not for my security.”

The last dissident voice is George Bisherat, a law professor, whose lucid, critical analysis appeared in the Wall Street Journal, of all places.

Racheli Gai writes: It's important that people take the time to write to the Wall Street Journal and thank them for publishing such a fine piece - (not a common thing on their part)... Email your letter to the editor to:
wsj.ltrs@wsj.com. Please limit your letters to 200 or fewer words ... shorter letters have a better chance of being selected for publication.

According to Blumenthal (in the piece immediately below), a growing numbers of Americans don't buy into the myths disseminated by mainstream media about the war on Gaza. He conjectures that - in addition to the presence on line of alternative sources of information - the reason is that after people got sold a bill of goods in regards to why the US went to a war against Iraq, they are a lot more skeptical about the veracity of what they hear and see on most mainstream media outlets.

Here are the articles, alluded to above, found in the latest postings on Jewish Peace News blog. (JPN describes itself as "an information service that circulates news clippings, analyses, editorial commentary, and action alerts concerning the Israel / Palestine conflict. We work to promote a just resolution to the conflict; we believe that the cause of both peace and justice will be served when Israel ends the occupation, withdrawing completely from the Palestinian territories and finding a solution to the Palestinian refugee crisis within the framework of international law.")

Sunday 11 January 2009

New Rules for Middle East Engagement

The "God's Politics" blog recently posted a visionary, thought-provoking article:
New Rules for Middle East Engagement

It makes more sense than just about anything else I've read, thus far, about the conventional rules vs the new rules -- and what could lead to peace and to effectively defuse the crisis in Israel/Gaza. It is authored by Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that promotes interfaith cooperation.

Patel's blog, The Faith Divide, explores what drives faiths apart - and what actually brings them together.


The biggest challenge is getting leaders that can make a difference to take this stuff seriously. [Sigh] Once again, folks among the general populace are going to have to take the lead - then maybe the so-called "leaders" will eventually follow.


Rochester (NY) Jews Share Perspectives on Gaza

(Note: this was signed by 48 Jews from the Rochester area, which is a notoriously tough venue for sharing non-AIPAC-approved opinions.)

Published January 11, 2008

As Rochesterians, as Americans, as Jews, we look with great foreboding at the escalating crisis between Israel and Gaza. We have noted with anguish the news accounts of hundreds of rockets being fired from Gaza into southern Israel, and the havoc, injuries, and fatalities they have engendered. We have also noted the reports of many Gazans killed and injured in Israeli air strikes (many members of Hamas, many not) and the gathering humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Civilians are always the real losers in war, and we mourn all the dead, lives suddenly asunder and families torn apart. And on January 3rd of a ground invasion of Gaza by the Israel Defense Forces has increased the casualties on both sides.

It is not profitable at this point in time to try to apportion blame between the two contending parties. There is blame enough to go around. Hamas has shown itself to have little or no interest in seeking peace with Israel, and its ongoing rocket attacks into Israel were a major precipitating factor in the current crisis. Israel, with its great preponderance of military force, had other options open to it, both diplomatic and military, other than full-scale warfare with Hamas, and its blockade of Gaza over the past year was a major catalyst in the current crisis. Israel seems to have embarked upon a policy of forced regime change in Gaza, and if there is one lesson above all to be learned from the recent and still ongoing American misadventure in Iraq, it is that overthrowing a regime can make a difficult situation far worse.

It is our fear that this is what Israel will accomplish in Gaza. It is hard to see how this latest war can accomplish anything but making the goal of a viable two state solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem more difficult to obtain and yet further out of reach.

We call upon Israel and Hamas to work out the terms for an immediate cease fire, and to lay the groundwork for a future, where, at a minimum, Israel has the security it requires and Gaza has the open borders it needs for social survival. Both the Israeli government and Hamas need to take a different approach to the Gaza situation (and the West Bank occupation). This will be a start - a start of a dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians that will bring mutual trust and security - building towards a lasting peace solution for the Middle East. We recognize that achieving this will not be easy, and that the friends and allies of both parties, and the international community as a whole, will have to play an important role in accomplishing this.

As Americans, we know that the United States will have to play an important role, and we hope that the incoming Obama administration takes a far more active and constructive role in securing a long term Israeli-Palestinian peace than its predecessor.

As Jews who love Israel, we hope all Jews will respect our position, as we respect the right of others to differ from us. The Jewish community needs open and frank dialogue on all of the pressing issues of the day. It will only be strengthened by airing a diversity of opinions. And as Rochesterians, as residents of a city that has so often in the past been a voice for social justice and peace, we hope our voices will be heard, and will contribute in a small way to the monumental task that confronts Israelis and Palestinians in creating a viable and stable peace for both peoples.

Friday 9 January 2009

"We really support it - but we won't vote for it!"

The U.S. helped draw up the UN resolution for a Gaza cease-fire, then abstained from the 14-0 vote!!

It's pretty obvious the Bush administration would rather see the bloody thing continue...
because it doesn't want, in any way, to upset its friends supporting or governing the state of Israel:

U.N. Security Council calls for Gaza cease-fire
Earlier, food shipments were suspended because of fighting

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Thursday night calling for an immediate and durable cease-fire between Hamas militants and Israeli forces in Gaza. The U.S. abstained from the 14-0 vote.

Israel and Hamas were not parties to the vote and it will now be up to them to stop the fighting. But the text of the resolution was hammered out by the United States, Israel's chief ally, and by Arab nations that have ties to Hamas and the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories.

"We are all very conscious that peace is made on the ground while resolutions are written in the United Nations," British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States "fully supports" the resolution but abstained because it "thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation" with Israel and Hamas, aimed at achieving a cease-fire. (we agree...but let's wait awhile...'monopoly is so much fun and I'd hate to spoil the game')

The Egyptian and French initiative must be "not just applauded, but supported," she said. ('but let's not rush it')

In deciding that the U.S. should not block the resolution, Rice said, "the Security Council has provided a road map for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza." (we won't block it...we'll just say we support it)

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28404637/


P.S. Don't miss this provocative collection of political newspaper cartoons and illustrations - commentary on "the situation."

Tuesday 6 January 2009



An Important Lesson from the "Peanuts" Gallery...

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.

You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just read the e-mail straight through, and you'll get the point (although you may need to modify the questions a bit to fit your own context if you live outside the United States.)

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is , none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.

These are no second-rate achievers.

They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies...

Awards tarnish.

Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special!!
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials...the most money...or the most awards.

They simply are the ones who care the most.

Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life, and...don't worry anymore about the world coming to an end today, because it's already "tomorrow" in Australia!

Just be yourself -- everyone else is taken!

P.S. For some reason I couldn't get the cartoons to "stick" when pasted directly into my blog here, so here is someone's else's website which includes that "animated" illustrated version of what you see above -- complete with Peanuts cartoons, and a disclaimer by Snopes that Charles Schulz actually wasn't the author of this fine piece, although it sure sounds like something he might have said. -Clair