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NEW ORLEANS - 7 February, 2003: Did I tell you the one about bartending by Braille? There was a power failure on Frenchmen Street, where I bartend at The Spotted Cat, Mardi Gras night. So one of the owners, Trish, and one of the patrons from the retirement home next door held flashlights as I continued to mix drinks for the assembled revelers. This is New Orleans; we don't let anything as trivial as darkness keep the party from going on -- especially not during Carnaval.
I bartended for six straight days during Mardi Gras week, pulling the longest shifts at the bar. No good deed goes unpunished, of course, so I suspect I'm in a world of hurt right now.
12 March, 2003: When I wrote the foregoing, I had no idea that that was the only day off I'd have from The Rod Show until today. So now the rush to get the great articles in queue for this edition out to you, my dove.
Both JOHN ROSS'S "Dispatches from Baghdad" in G21 NEWS and KEVIN CAREY's RDR essay deserve your special attention. Since I had no time to write an advance essay for this page, you'll have to live with me winging it and sharing some of the items that have come across my desk this past twelve days.
Paul Krugman's essay for the New York Times on 7 March, begins with these lines:
I scored three pigs on the P.I.Q. test!
Take the Porcine Intelligence Quotient Test
Today!"Why does our president condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials? Has 'oderint dum metuant' really become our motto?" So reads the resignation letter of John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who recently left the Foreign Service in protest against Bush administration policy.
"Oderint dum metuant" translates, roughly, as "let them hate as long as they fear." It was a favorite saying of the emperor Caligula, and may seem over the top as a description of current U.S. policy. But this week's crisis in U.S.-Mexican relations - a crisis that has been almost ignored north of the border - suggests that it is a perfect description of George Bush's attitude toward the world.
If you didn't get a chance to read Krugman's essay last week, go back and do so when you have the time. His analysis is spot-on.
If you're unfamiliar with the administration's strong-arm tactics toward Mexico, a member of the United Nations Security Council, you're reading the wrong newspapers, Web sites and magazines.
In my e-mail box, I found a lengthy letter from former journalism professor and photojournalist Thorne Anderson who is now in Iraq. Here's a brief excerpt for you to contemplate:There's a lot of talk about whether or not the U.S. will go to war with Iraq. What many people don't realize is that the U.S. is already at war in Iraq. I made two trips last month into the "no-fly zone" created by the U.S. with Britain and France in southern Iraq. Actually it would be better named the "only we fly" zone or the "we bomb" zone. "We" refers to the United States who does almost all of the flying and bombing (France pulled out years ago, and Britain is largely a nominal participant).There is another no-fly zone in the north, which the U.S. says it maintains To protect the Kurds, but while the U.S. prevents Iraqi aircraft from entering the region, it does nothing to prevent or even to criticize Turkey (a U.S. ally) from flying into northern Iraq on numerous occasions to bomb Kurdish communities there.
Turkey's bombing in Iraq is dwarfed by that of the U.S. The U.S. has been bombing Iraq on a weekly and sometimes daily basis for the past 12 years. There were seven civilians killed in these bombings about two weeks ago, and I'm told of more civilians last week, but I'm sure that didn't get much or perhaps any press in the U.S. It is estimated that U.S. bombing has killed 500 Iraqis just since 1999. Actually I believe that number to be higher if you take into account the effects of the massive use of depleted uranium (DU) in the bombing. The U.S. has dropped well in excess of 300 tons of this radioactive material in Iraq (30 times the amount dropped in Kosovo) since 1991. Some of the DU is further contaminated with other radioactive particles including Neptunium and Plutonium 239, perhaps the most carcinogenic of all radioactive materials, and these particles are now beginning to show up in ground water samples.
And, elsewhere in the letter, Thorne writes:The toll of the sanctions is one of the most under-reported stories of the past decade in the U.S. press. I have seen a few references to the sanctions recently in the U.S. press, but invariably they will subtly discredit humanitarian concerns by relying on Iraqi government statements rather than on the statistics of international agencies. My careless colleague at Time magazine, for example, recently reported that "the Iraqi government blames the sanctions for the deaths of thousands of children under the age of five." That's simply not true. The Iraqi government, in fact, blames the sanctions for the deaths of *more than a million* children under the age of five. But lets put that figure aside, for there's no need to rely solely on the Iraqi government, and let's refer instead to UNICEF and WHO reports which blame the sanctions directly for the excess deaths of approximately 500,000 children under the age of five, and nearly a million Iraqis of all ages. We all have an idea of the grief borne by the United States after the September 11 attacks. Employing the crude Mathematics of casualty figures, multiply that grief by 300 and place it on the hearts of a country with one tenth the population of the United States and perhaps we can get a crude idea of what kind of suffering has already been inflicted on the Iraqi people in the past decade.
The greatest killer of young children in Iraq is dehydration from diarrhea caused by water-borne illnesses which are amplified by the intentional destruction of water treatment and sanitation facilities by the United States. The U.S. plan for destroying water treatment facilities and suppressing their rehabilitation was outlined just before the American entry into the 1991 Gulf War. The January, 1991, Dept. of Defense document, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities," goes into great detail about how the destruction of water treatment facilities and their subsequent impairment by the sanctions regime will lead to "increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease." I can report from my time in Iraq that all is going to plan. Cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid (previously almost unheard of in Iraq) are now quite common. Malaria and, of course, dysentery are rampant, and immunities to all types of disease are extremely low.
I bring you this reporting this week, because like the JOHN ROSS article, I believe it important that you get impressions from people who are actually in Iraq, rather than someone sitting cozy in the plush studios of the Fox News Channel or MSNBC. I've given up on getting anything but propaganda from most domestic media outlets in the United States. I now turn almost exclusively to BBC, Der Spiegel and other foreign outlets to find factual reporting about this impending conflict.
THIS JUST IN: I thought it HAD to be a hoax today when I received an e-mail saying that the United States government, our government, had agreed to pay a man described as "al Queda foot soldier" $27 million for information that led to the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. I mean, we know al Queda was behind the attacks in 2001 and the President has sworn to track all its members down as part of the war on terrorism. But now this guy, an Egyptian, not only gets to walk, but gets a reward.
You can find the story on the CNN website here.
I'll leave it to you to decide how you feel about this. My feeling: for a terrorist, this guy must have A LOT of stuff if he needs $27 million (USD) to move it.
AND THIS: In response to the "Freedom Fries" movement, it seems that a group of women in the Midwest are organizing a movement to encourage their peers to wear French Twists, a hairstyle popular in the '60s. More power to them! I'll eat the brie and buy another bottle of champagne.
FINALLY, NOTES ON MY SO-CALLED LIFE: I trained a new bartender at The Cat yesterday, so I have a few days to myself again, my love, to spend with you.
Besides, even after running seven new features this week, I have nearly an equal number waiting in queue already. That's what happens when you miss a week of publication. As there are new writers in that waiting group, I am again feeling the pressure this magazine exerts in my life.
I've been reading voraciously the world's reaction to the Bush agenda and being alarmed. As KEVIN CAREY predicted in an earlier essay and reiterates in this edition, Bush was not kidding when he said "You're either with us or against us." He is dividing the world into confronting camps rather than areas of cooperation. I'm am both saddened and afraid and becoming more convinced than ever that I cannot remain in this country.
Meanwhile, a countervaling influence has been my search for a new romantic partner. The women in my life have been mystifying me and giving me pause again. Elusive and I continue to grow closer. She remains a puzzling case in that she is very protective of her personal space with most people, but physically very close with me. I am flattered that she genuinely likes me, it seems, and doesn't feel threatened by physical contact, but I am not sure yet what the message of this signal is. She's a tough read.
Meanwhile, Fashionable is coming around frequently now and has even suggested that we should go out for coffee or dinner sometime. I had to put her off until next week, as this week I am committed to spending time with a new friend. I shall call her "Europa" for our purposes here. She is the most compelling of them all right now because she is the most feisty (she has already criticized one of my editorials here) and our political thinking goes along similar lines. Also, I suppose, because she has taken the initiative in directing our interactions. She has a lot on her plate, including a child, and so I have demurred. Nonetheless, it was she who suggested we get together this week, for first chess and then for dinner.
As you know, my love, I prefer to take the follow role in this dance, rather than the lead. It is a means of saving myself from unnecessary embarassment. If I enter each situation with diminished expectations, I shall never be disappointed.
I'm aware of the criticism of my behavior that I should take the risk of making the first move sometime. But self-doubt is a great inhibitor. I put myself out there enough in this circumstance, I don't feel prepared to do so in other interactions. Besides, I don't think that I simply "come off" as aloof. In many senses, because of my need for isolation and quiet to complete this work, I am actually a bit aloof. And reticent. I've grown comfortable with that part of my nature.
The Rod Show exhausts any reserves I have of extroversion. In my "real" life, there are simply none left. I have always been a shy person to some degree. Being so "friendly" on my job simply reforces the shyness in my personal life.
I was recently admonished in an e-mail that I don't' "allow" anyone to get close to me. I don't believe that's true, of couse, my love. How muchh closer could you and I be? I was hurt that I came off that way. But I can't, and wouldn't want to, shape other people's impressions of my behavior...
Things I NEED This Week1. As much time alone as I can budget.
2. A girlfriend.
3. A Plan for The Next Phase.
Thanks for coming back this week.
"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues. He was also principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviewed technology issues weekly, producing 383 editorials. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000, and left in September of the same year. He was a contributing writer for ACCESS magazine, which appeared both on- and offline for 10 million readers in 100 newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Boston Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Denver Post and Orlando Sentinel, among others. Rod was the US reporter for Silicon.com, a division of Network Multimedia Television in London, UK, reaching 3.5 million European readers, until May, 2001.
Last year he worked as Assistant to the General Manager of a Big Easy company that does restaurants and nightclubs. (Think: The Boy.) Oh yeah, Rod's had Day Jobs working construction. Mostly renovations of old New Orleans structures, houses and a bar. Sometimes he designs Web sites for other people so that he can get his creative juices flowing the way he can't at a staid publication like this one. And he's been the instructor in Editing for Internet Publications at the Novi Sad School of Journalism in Yugoslavia. Right now our Resident Philosopher has joined the pantheon of New Orleans bartenders and still doesn't know when he'll have a "permanent residence" that he likes.. In his spare time, he chases women in the manner that a fly pursues a spider.
Rod lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. This town is eroding his normal sense of driven purpose. He wants to live somewhere civilized when he grows up. Wish him Luck.
He continues to be committed to integrity,
chastity and a dose of humility.
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