03.10.02 >1442

Just added a guestmap - let me know where you are!

03.09.02 >2258

The catchy pop tempo faded to singsong whisper and faintly heard melody as she stretched out across her bed and took another stab at reading about astronauts struggling to survive on Mars.

It was unusual for her to not be able to concentrate on a book when music was playing - mere background noise, usually, to drown out the uncomfortable silence. With this particular read, she instead found it hard to take in the action with any kind of music playing at all.

As she curled up on the cool sheets, eyes sliding across the current page, she chuckled softly when she came across this part:

Name that Peak! Again, Shackleton had done it first, sticking the names of his patrons on spots in the Antarctic. Beardmore Glacier, its name bought for $34,000 - big bucks, in those days. How about selling rights to name the Valles Marinaris, a 2,800-mile-long trench? Axelrod asked the question and there were plenty of takers lined up. In principle, the lucky "donor" could then title the chasm for anything, but it seemed unlikely that the sort of hard driver who became a media tycoon or retailing genius would go for anything except his own place on the Martian map - price suitably adjusted to the size of the geographical object, of course.

The International Astronomical Union stiffly disputed him in court, since they had the rights to name astronomical objects. But Axelrod claimed "explorers' rights," his lawyers basing their opinions on early eighteenth-century legal precedent. The case got bogged down in several courts. But Axelrod kept selling anyway. He even published a map showing prominent craters, plains, and mounts with their proud new names. Olympus Mons became Gates Mountain.
Gates, eh? That wasn't surprising. She smiled inwardly and kept reading, only realizing then that the song had changed to one with a slower, easier beat - and yet she hadn't become aware of it 'til now.

Either sci-fi is definitely my Pop Eye spinach, she mused wonderingly, or pesky roommates and loud music do not make for a great reading environment.


The grinding thunder plummets in cavity and blackness
as, Alas! another falls
And they cry and wail
"ashes to ashes, dust to dust"
But the one they mourn
only feels painful bliss under gravel and marble

It was the mortar that took him
Delivered from the hands
of one so alike
The same dark hair and starlit eyes
the same deep laugh and grace
One returned to earth and ash, the other turning to his brother
And coolly, almost lovingly, cutting flesh from bone
With steel and gunpowder

And you ask "Why?"

And the dead rise to regard you with scorn
As their oppressor walks away,
Seeking another unfamiliar face to black out
From the attendance rolls of humanity

And the dead reply,
"Why not?"



Making Music : "13 talented musicians. An elite Music school. The backing of a major record label. The result? A winning album." Now this is definitely what I call hands-on classwork.

Finally been able to get into Benford's The Martian Race - it's a nice blend of hard science, survival instincts (definitely beats the stunts of the Survivor show, if you ask me), and harrowing excitement. I guess the science bit threw me off when I first picked it up, but Benford knows what he's talking about, and this is coming from someone who hated physics and biology in high school. (And you need both to write some credible hard sci-fi (or maybe sci-fi period!), which hasn't quite clicked in my brain yet.)

03.08.02 >2356

Life is a string of obscenities
happily skipping along
You smile and wave to your neighbor
who looks at you oddly
and contemplates cursing you right back
Laments swell in your breast
but you eagerly run down the path of so-called justice
merrily singing yourself to Hell
This, after all, is what Life is all about



The Normalcy of War Criminals: "As the trial of Serban strongman Slobodan Milosevic continues, Croatian novelist Slavenka Drakulic considers how disturbingly mundane war criminals are." It's a pretty interesting dissection of a tyrant's psyche - worth checking out.

One other item from Mother Jones caught my eye: the ongoing fight between "the Journalist" (Geoff Nyarota) and "the Dictator" (Robert Mugabe). The upcoming elections in Zimbabwe this weekend definitely promise to be anything but normal. Or maybe that should be the outcome of the said elections.


1. What makes you homesick? Probably the first stab of unfamiliarity that hits me whenever I arrive in a new environment - esp. if I'm by myself.

2. Where is "home" for you? Is it where you are living now, or somewhere else (ie: Mom & Dad's house, particular state/city)? Good question. Home is probably where I feel most comfortable, and that's not necessarily when I'm with family. If I had my own place in Livermore, down the street from where my parents live, I think I'd be set. For now, though, home is SFSU's Centennial Village complex.

3. What makes it home for you? People? Things? Both. Definitely people, but also the treasured belongings that make it seem homey.

4. Where is the furthest you've been from home, miles-wise? 4752 miles, from San Francisco to Pago Pago, American Samoa. We went back in 1989 to visit my maternal grandparents for three weeks. Have I mentioned before how the mosquitoes there seem to like visitors' blood the most? That combined with having a cast on my right leg for two weeks out of three made it less fun than I liked. All right, all right, that's a lot more input than I should've provided, but I have "fond" memories of that trip!

5. What are your plans for this weekend? Probably going around with Larry tomorrow, church on Sunday, and a bit of reading for school.

03.07.02 >2354

Whoa. I knew about replacement theology, but I didn't think it was this bad. (link via Page Count)

Note : Replacement theology "says that the Jews have been replaced by the Christians in God’s favour, and so all God’s promises to the Jews, including the land of Israel, have been inherited by Christianity." This is of course a bunch of crap because nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Church will replace Israel as God's beloved people. I think these people are either taking Scripture completely out of context or haven't read the pertaining Scriptures period.


A conversation with Justice Richard Goldstone, currently presiding on the justice panel of the Constitutional Court of South Africa - he talks about the launching of his phenomenal career as a justice in apartheid South Africa, becoming Chief Prosecutor for the UN war crimes tribunal, meeting survivors, and the United States' ambivalence to the ICC.


U.S. backs away from hard-liners in Israel, saying policy is doomed : "A senior administration official said Wednesday that Sharon's statements on Monday that the Palestinians had to be 'hit hard' and that they would only negotiate after they were 'beaten' amounted to 'a declaration that he thought he could bomb the Palestinians into submission.'"

Actually, Mr. Sharon, you're just going to encourage more Palestinian suicide bombers to sacrifice themselves in Israeli neighborhoods and repeat this cycle of violence. How else do you expect an oppressed group of people to react to the constant harassment of your trigger-happy soldiers and settlers whenever they come in to "patrol" the refugee camps?

And whoever's equating criticism of the Israeli state's bullying tactics to anti-Semitism is a pretty bigoted idiot himself - name-calling wouldn't do me any good, would it? Just quit it with the victim mentality already!

03.06.02 >2155

Harrison's Flowers was pretty koo-el. The ending was rather sappy - I felt like they could've fleshed it out more so that the emotion throughout the film culminated and the meaning of the movie's name could stand out as it should have. Three stars out of four.


Faith and the snare of worldly power - Concerning Rev. Graham's recent apology about some silly snippet of conversation from thirty-plus years ago : "Had Mr. Graham spoken 'truth to power' and said of Nixon's derogatory remarks about Jews, 'Mr. President, those were wicked and sinful things to say about Jewish people,' chances are excellent that Nixon would never again have granted the evangelist access. That's the way the game is played between politicians and clergy. And the clergy always lose in the end because it is their principles that must be sacrificed if their proximity to supposed power is to continue and their illusion of influence to be maintained."

Would it have really mattered whether or not Nixon blew off Graham if the evangelist had rebuked the former prez about those remarks? Of course, Graham's relationship with Nixon is being called into question now, but I think the reverend would've still had some high standing later on just because he did offer some sort of admonishment. Maybe it's just the idealist in me, but I don't think Graham would've been seen as some sort of self-righteous wannabe if he'd taken the opposite road ... yeeeah, maybe it's just the idealist in me.

03.05.02 >2220

So tonight we gave an "oral book review" for the above book, and I must say that I got a lot more out of it than I orginally thought. See, my original fear was that the prof would be randomly picking on people to answer questions about certain chapters so she could see if they'd actually read the whole thing. Instead, we split up into groups and each got a chapter to summarize for the rest of the class. The chapter my group did isn't really important - I s'pose the overall point of this exercise was to talk about the impact this book had on our perceptions of the American Indians.

I think that for most people in the class, it was an eye-opener on what the Native Americans had to suffer at the hands of our government, and at the hands of the "more civilized and superior white man" : they were chased off their lands - to be more specific, they were bribed to sell their tribal lands to the U.S. for ridiculously low annuities that were sometimes never given back to them as promised. They were forcibly moved away to less desirable portions of the country where poverty and oppression slowly killed off their populations; their sources for food were deliberately destroyed; in some tribes, children were forcibly separated from their parents and brainwashed in special schools so that by the time they "graduated," they couldn't remember which tribe they were from; ancestral grounds were desecrated by encroaching white settlers heading further West. This list could go on and on.

Funny thing, though - remember my musings in the previous post about the "myth" of objectivity? The author of this book manages to give the facts without all the emotional baggage that would make people think there's a slant/agenda to this story. Granted, this isn't a journalistic venture of any sort, but I think the reader will be able to formulate his/her own emotional response as he/she continues to read through this book, and I s'pose that's how you make a decision about whether to believe it or not. I'm only halfway through chapter two, but even though it's not imperative that I read the rest of this book, I think I'm going to, anyway.

P.S. Oh, and just in case you got a little depressed by the ramblings above, never fear : the Indians are certainly not an extinct group to cross off anybody's list. Despite the fact that their culture has been severely suppressed at one time or another, they haven't lost any sense of their ethnic identity. Which, in my book, is a very good thing. And of course, this is a drop in the bucket where a more positive outlook on the Indians' future is concerned.


Sometimes I wonder if journalistic objectivity has always been a myth.

I was reading this article about the trial of three journalists in Rwanda who are responsible for urging the Hutus to embark on genocidal rampages against the Tutsis in 1994. Prosecutors are drawing parallels between this case and the Nuremberg trial of Nazi publisher Julius Streicher, who used his weekly publication Der Stuermer to incite violence against Jews before WWII began.

Obviously some publications will always be started with shady motivations. And then you've got those cases where people look at a certain paper or magazine and complain about a liberal or conservative slant that colors this particular media source. So is objectivity dead?

- -

I finished Joe Sacco's Palestine yesterday morning and then stumbled across this interesting article later in the afternoon. I suppose it's a given that the U.S. has always supported the State of Israel, but the one-sided slant on the whole Middle East conflict in American news is rather outrageous. As noted in the aforementioned article, the British media holds no qualms about criticizing the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, even if "Tony Blair is far too comfortable being the tail on the American dog to risk serious disagreement."

03.04.02 >2141

Switzerland voted to join the United Nations earlier today. I hadn't realized they'd been firm about their neutral status for so long until I read this report.

Speakin' of the U.N., today in Int'l Relations we talked about Milosevic's ongoing war crimes trial. Where the counts of genocide against the former Yugoslav leader are concerned, my prof said that she's not so sure the prosecution can provide enough evidence to confirm this claim. During the NATO bombing campaign, many claims appeared from out of the woodwork about mass killings of ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo region, but people have yet to find mass graves to prove this.

My prof also made the argument that the UN is "poorly equipped to handle these sort of situations, and it seems like most nations want to keep it this way." Look at the massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda, she said, where international intervention was needed, and yet nothing happened. Compare this to the situation in Kosovo, where intervention did happen - and now, what of it? No signs that point to genocide have been found yet. (And it should be noted that it was not the UN that intervened here, but NATO - like I said a few days ago, it seems like all they're good for are aerial bombing campaigns. Of course, there's a lot more to it than this, but me bein' the "witty" person I am and all ... well, I couldn't resist.)

On a completely different note, I s'pose it's just this administration currently in the White House, but still ... you gotta wonder what's going on with those guys. They seem to contradict themselves constantly on some matters. Case in point : the Bush administration says that the int'l criminal court that will open in August could "infringe on U.S. sovereignty." And yet the U.S. has in the past been responsible (indirectly or directly) for the formation of several int'l tribunals to try other war criminals.

What the heck are you guys pullin' up there?

03.03.02 >1606

So over lunch today at Applebee's, a question came up about certain secular music artists thought to be Christian. Creed was one, P.O.D. was another, and then there was Sixpence None the Richer. Creed's definitely not Christian, but Sixpence is. P.O.D. is not a Christian band, per se, meanin' they aren't under a Christian label.

I hate the mentality floating around which says that just because some Christian artists do not stay in the Christian music market means they're no longer Christian. I thought the whole point of being a Christian in the first place was to get out of this box - subculture - whatever you want to call it - that we've placed ourselves in and be a witness for Christ to the rest of the world. I guess some folks just need to get knocked off their pedestals and find out the truth the hard way.

03.01.02 >1916

One of the editors at PH posted about this kool 404 site. I especially like the funny section.

- -

When I told my magazine prof Wednesday that they were shutting down the Office of Strategic Information, he stared at me in disbelief. "Oh, that's bull--! I bet you anything they're gonna bury it somewhere in their budget." Hmmm, good point.


Found this a couple days ago : the Human Virus Scanner. (via Follow Me Here) My results were as follows :

Viruses you suffer from:

Junkfood - Eat some real food. Something which you can identify the source of every ingredient, not the point of manufacture. Religion - Read "God's Debris" by Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert guy) [If you ask me, this dude needs to get out more often. You know you've been at work too long if all you do is draw comic strips about your evil co-workers.] Sci-fi - Stop wearing the stick-on ears. Environmentalism - Consume more stuff! It's easier to buy new stuff than to recycle. Macintosh - Use a mouse with more than one button. [NEVER!! Oh, wait, this isn't the Death Star ...]

Viruses you might suffer from:

Pokemon (60%) - Pikachu! Use your hyper-electric-get-a-life move now! [What the —? I don't even LIKE Pokémon!] Japan (60%) - Big is good. Small is bad. Giant robots would not make a good last line of defence for Earth. Politics (70%) - Stop caring! Brand Names (80%) - Having a well-known name doesn't make it good. [Heh - I coulda told you that.] Conspiracy Theory (80%) - Face it, the elected government is in control. Actually that's quite scary.
So what viruses do you suffer from?


Oy, last night was horrible. Ylang went to sleep earlier 'n I did (try 6:30 pm, whereas I went to sleep around 11:30). I wake up a quarter after three in the morning, and she's up turning on the lights, singing to herself and generally acting like I'm not even in the freakin' room. To make it worse, she must've realized I was awake because then she turns on the light and stares at me and goes, "Sarah, are you awake?"

No, Ylang, I sleep with my eyes open.

Argh. A terrible wind howled outside last night, rattling the windows and hammering against our walls. 'Twas really weird, 'cause when I got up an hour ago, you couldn't tell that the wind was blowing at all. Everything was just very still, which seemed kinda creepy. But now Mr. Wind's blowing again, not as hard as last night, but hard enough to make it known that he'd like some attention. Nature is probly the best showstopper there is and ever will be. Roommates are a different story!

On another note ... I picked up Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco at the library yesterday while doing a bit of research for my Int'l Relations term paper, and finished the book last night. This book is awesome; you've got 217 pages of graphic novel enjoyment that brings the conflict to life in a pretty realistic way. By now you're probably tired of hearing me rant about the massacre at Srebrenica - now you can read about the Gorazde enclave, another "safe area" that would've fallen to the Serbs in 1995 if not for intervention by NATO (I suppose aerial bombing is the only thing they'll ever be good for). Check it out.

P.S. Joe Sacco also did an earlier work on Palestine, which I hope to find soon at the local library.