English Peace Frog

A political and personal blog in English and (a little) Japanese.

Name:
Location: Japan

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Astounding Eddie Albert Coincidence

The other day, I was moved by a mysterious dynamism to rise from my chair, drift to the computer, and search for Green Acres fansites.

My reason was as simple as it was indefensible: I wanted to hear the theme song again. This was a television program of incalculable worth for me as a child. I saw it only as a daytime rerun, and only on days when I stayed home from school because I was sick. Therefore, I ordinarily watched it with a fever, sometimes high*. Green Acres, when viewed in a healthy condition, might not be the paragon of television sitcom excellence, but viewing it while trembling and convulsing under a soggy blanket, with influenza, the mumps or some other incurable retrovirus, was damned comforting to a sensitive child like little Hokkaidoabbey. I gradually came to associate the show, and especially the theme song, with comfort, warmth and good health.

That was a long time ago, though. I'd put aside childish things decades ago, and hadn't thought about Green Acres since I was a teenager, probably. Then, like a raw shard of lightning thrust through my forehead, the impulse came to search the internet for the show and the theme song. I found them, listened to the song, discovered that, in my middle-age, I was unmoved by the honking jalopy tune. I've grown cold and barren, like a chunk of dead coral fingering out of Iceland. I continued on to another activity.

THE VERY NEXT DAY, when I turned on the computer, the first thing that caught my eye on the Yahoo news page was this headline:

Eddie Albert, star of television's popular Green Acres, dead at 99

Is that a shocking coincidence or isn't it?!

Did I somehow accidentally kill Eddie Albert? Or was Eddie sending me a signal from his deathbed?

*the fever was high, not me.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Persian Strawberry

This week, extra-Earthly planet number 146 was discovered (!!), the Michael Jackson trial came to the brink of the end (prediction: a mistrial), my face erupted with a pimple the size and shape of a Persian strawberry and I had a massive dizzy spell in the midst of a class, because I'd scarcely slept for three days, George Bush gave a speech that attempted to guilt-trip Americans into joining the military by suggesting they were wasting their lives if they didn't, to be continued, because dinner is ready.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Sith Family Singers II

This article is a follow-up of the previous entry on torture.--ha

From 'gook' to 'raghead'Bob Herbert The New York Times
TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2005
NEW YORK

I spent some time recently with Aidan Delgado, 23, a religion major at New College of Florida, a small, highly selective school in Sarasota. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, before hearing anything about the terror attacks that would change the direction of American history, Delgado enlisted as a private in the army reserve. Suddenly, in ways he had never anticipated, the military took over his life. He was trained as a mechanic and assigned to the 320th Military PoliceCompany in St. Petersburg, Florida. By the spring of 2003, he was in Iraq. Eventually he would be stationed at the prison compound in Abu Ghraib.Delgado's background is unusual. He is an American citizen, but because his father was in the diplomatic corps, he grew up overseas. He spent eight years in Egypt, speaks Arabic and knows a great deal about the various cultures of the Middle East. He wasn't happy when, even before his unit left the States, a top officer made wisecracks about the soldiers heading off to Iraq to kill some ragheads and burnsome turbans.

"He laughed," Delgado said, "and everybody in the unit laughed with him."The officer's comment was a harbinger of the gratuitous violence that, according to Delgado, is routinely inflicted by American soldiers on ordinary Iraqis. He said: "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads." He said he had confronted guys who were his friends about this practice. "I said to them: 'What the hell are you doing? Like, what does this accomplish?' And they responded just completely openly. They said: 'Look, I hate being in Iraq. I hate being stuck here. AndI hate being surrounded by hajis."' "Haji" is the troops' term of choice for Iraqis. It's used the way "gook" or "Charlie" was used in Vietnam. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old. There were many occasions, he said, when soldiers or marines would yell and curse and point their guns at Iraqis who had done nothing wrong.He said he believes that the absence of any real understanding of Arab or Muslim culture by most GIs, combined with a lack of proper training and the unrelieved tension of life in a war zone, contributes to levels of fear and rage that lead to frequent instances of unnecessary violence. Delgado, an extremely thoughtful and serious young man, balked at the entire scene. "It drove me into a moral quagmire," he said. "I walked up to my commander and gave him my weapon. I said: 'I'm not going to fight. I'm not going to kill anyone. This war is wrong. I'll stay. I'll finish my job as a mechanic. But I'm not going to hurt anyone. And I want to be processed as a conscientious objector."'He stayed with his unit and endured a fair amount of ostracism."People would say I was a traitor or a coward," he said. "The stuffyou would expect."In November 2003, after several months in Nasiriya in southern Iraq,the 320th was redeployed to Abu Ghraib. The violence there was sickening, Delgado said. Some inmates were beaten nearly to death.The GIs at Abu Ghraib lived in cells while most of the detainees werehoused in large overcrowded tents set up in outdoor compounds thatwere vulnerable to mortars fired by insurgents. The army acknowledgesthat at least 32 Abu Ghraib detainees were killed by mortar fire.Delgado, who eventually got conscientious objector status and washonorably discharged last January, recalled a disturbance thatoccurred while he was working in the Abu Ghraib motor pool. Detaineeswho had been demonstrating over a variety of grievances beganthrowing rocks at the guards. As the disturbance grew, the armyauthorized lethal force. Four detainees were shot to death.Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on thedetainees. "I asked him," said Delgado, "if he was proud that he hadshot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn'tget mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.'

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Newsweek, the Koran, Torture, The Sith Family Singers

What does the American public make of all the evidence piling up about widespread torture committed by the government it elected?

Among people who've kept their eyes open about the U.S.'s new romance with torture, all the jabbering and fist-shaking about the recent Newsweek report about Koran-abuse, and the magazine's subsequent retraction of the story, was farcical.

The story, in its essence, was true, and has been reported plenty before. Newsweek was forced to back off the story only because its source, for occult reasons of his own, backed away from it too. But the Koran defilement has been known for some time now to be one of a litany of terroristic techniques used in America's "war on terror".

If reports from CNN are any indication, most Americans are buying the Bush adminstration's panting and offended response to the Newsweek story hook, line and sinker. Also reported reliably have been plenty of other incidents of torture (including rape), occurring in far more venues than Abu Ghraib, and committed by far more people than smirking grunts like little Charlie Graner and his porcine ex-girlfriend.

If measured by public expressions of outrage, most Americans don't appear to give a rat's ass about that either. Or maybe they just don't know, because they've got they've more important things on their minds.

I keep returning to this theme in my blog because it's hard for me to understand how the intelligent, generous and kind people I know as fellow Americans could allow their government to continue doing this kind of thing. Why aren't millions of people out on the streets in front of the White House, shrieking furiously for a stop of torture done in their name? Is it because they don't believe it's happening? Is it because they don't care?

I'm curious to know how Americans out there respond to this Molly Ivins article. Write in and tell us.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Buddhist Riddle

What thing is not attained when painstakingly sought?
What thing comes of itself without being sought?
What thing does not break under the blow of an iron hammer?
What thing closes by night and opens by day?

--Chih-Men

Monday, May 16, 2005

OCELOT SUNDAY


Get that Camera Out of My Face

Welcome to Ocelot Sunday, a regular feature here at English Peace Frog. Look at this cool fellow. He looks like he might just jump right through the computer screen and eat your face right off your skull, doesn't he?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Good Painting! Cheap!


Isn't this a beautiful painting? If you want to buy it, just send me ten bucks!

Oh my God! Someone stole Dick's painting!

Monday, May 09, 2005

UGLY CHILDREN

This article is troubling. The results of a study by Canadian researchers indicate that parents of unattractive children pay less attention to them, and are less protective of them than they are to more attractive children. I don't doubt that it's true, and I understand the chilly evolutionary reasons for something like this coming about. I wonder if a study that reveals something like this really has any potential to change anything. I also wonder how they determined which kids were "attractive" and which were not.

I believe in democracy, and I intend to bring it into my life as a father, if I ever become one. If I have one ugly kid (giant head, knob-nosed with vast nostrils, earlobes dangling grotesquely like a punk Buddha, brillo-haired with fat black eyebrows, hairs sprouting also in strange places, the left eye larger than the right, with the pupil twisted permanently toward the south, where Satan lives) and one cute kid (sparkling eyes, dimples that break your heart, angelic smile, button nose, skin perfectly smooth and soft, except for a tiny birthmark, just under her right ear, shaped like a cross), I'm going to give the ugly one twice as much love, plus a dollar a day allowance extra. When the cute kid whines about how she can't get a dollar too, I'll snap at her, "quit your snivelling and get a job as a model, you cute pig."

ha

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Ocelot Sunday


The Bluest Eyes on Earth

It's Ocelot Sunday, a regular feature at English Peace Frog. This attentive blue-eyed cutie is absorbed in something crucially important and utterly invisible.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Charles Graner III: I Heart Lynndie XOXOXO


"To Free the Iraqi People"

see also Charles Graner I
and Charles Graner II

I don't want to be joyous over another's misery, but I have to admit I laughed out loud when I heard that Lynndie England's ploy didn't succeed. After partying merrily in front of cameras while torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, then becoming as well known a monster worldwide as the most infamous ones in horror-fiction (who do you think is scarier--Hannibal Lector or Lynndie England?), England managed to plea-bargain her way down to a reported two-year sentence. I thought it likely that the judge would accept it because the U.S. government wants the case to vanish as fast as possible.

The memories of Americans are small. Were this attempt at a plea-bargain tried a year ago, there would have been demonstrations erupting out everywhere, probably as much from the war-supporters as from those against. Porcine cardboard images of Ms. England would be doused with (very expensive) gasoline, ignited, and maddened throngs of drunken veterans would be marching up the hill, jabbing and hurling thousands of blazing torches over the walls and through the windows of whatever army camp she was living in, tearing open the sky with their howls for revenge.

Not now, apparently. Time has passed. Lynndie is old news. She's boring. We're now in the middle of the Michael Jackson trial and there was this really cool public quarrel between Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, so who cares? The new Star Wars movie is coming out! Don't bore me with a real one! Just let this chick off light. They were just a bunch of Iraq Arabs (pronounced EYE-rack AAY-rabs), right? Sheeeit. They had it coming anyway, because of 9/11.

The chick, however, has not gotten off so light, and the chick furthermore has been thwarted in her odious maneuver to get off so. Tonight, Lynndie England must be gnashing her teeth in commiseration with her mother, whose face, by the way, looks like she herself has been gnashing her own teeth for the last fifty years. Poor Lynndie might actually have to do a little more time for her crimes than Martha Stewart.

ha

P.S. Focussing on the England / Graner finger of these crimes shouldn't be misconstrued as my believing there wasn't an gnarled and bloody hand connected to it, made up of a number of policy-makers and others in a chain-of-command, the leaders of which include Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Gonzalez, and George W. Bush. These three and others are connected to the crimes at Abu Ghraib with at least as much documentary evidence as that which pressured Richard Nixon out of office before he could be put on trial. They should be in prison themselves.

P.P.S. It shouldn't matter, because even criminals shouldn't be subject to torture, but most of the prisoners there at the time of the notorious incidents were guilty of nothing; they had been rounded up indiscriminately in the early days of the U.S. invasion; it still isn't clear if those tormented by England, Graner and others were "terrorists" or not or just innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Stupendous Experience


Sex and Saucers

"She was three meters (10 feet) tall and had six fingers, but otherwise she looked completely like a human," he says of his close encounter with an alien species. "I told my wife all about it afterwards. She wasn't too angry."

I think it would be a truly stupendous experience to be alive when the announcement comes that our species at last has made contact with one from another world. Or when the discovery is made of evidence that another intelligent species exists out there. Such an announcement or discovery is, in my opinion, inevitable, given the raw number of planets on which life as, or more, intelligent than our own would probably arise. Such an announcement might also be a long time in coming. It will ultimately be a matter of detecting signals from artificially produced broadcasts, probably, like our TV and radio shows. But I don't believe that we've been visited (yet) by space aliens, for many practical reasons.


What do you think?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Real Deal

"I thought it was candy because they put candy in your ice cream ... to make it a treat. So I said, 'OK, well, I'll just put it in my mouth and get the ice cream off of it and see what it is.'"

Sunday, May 01, 2005

FODDER

Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam who had seen combat were 60 percent more likely to be heavy drinkers than those who had not. And they were four times more likely to be heavy drinkers than men who never served in the armed forces, according to the study.

Can't really add anything to this except the observation that we are a forgetful species. Also, governments do their utmost to conceal how emotionally difficult it is for the troops in combat. The suicide rate of soldiers in Iraq, for example, has been known to be very high, but specific information has been distorted or hidden, or claimed to not exist, by the Bush administration. In twenty years, what condition will all these Iraqi vets, now scarcely out of childhood, be in?