Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ideas that Died in Iraq

"Preemptive wars, unilateralism, regime change, the neoconservative approach to foreign policy: Just a few months ago, powerful government officials and influential commentators presented these ideas as not just desirable but inevitable choices for a superpower confronted by unprecedented threats. With more than 900 American soldiers dead, 10,000 coalition troops wounded, a military price tag of more than $90 billion, and the main reason for going to war dismissed as a “massive intelligence failure,” these concepts lie buried in the sands of Iraq."

Something to read...

As well as this article in BBC News about the death toll of Iraqis post "liberation"...

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

sestinas anyone?

here's a little excercise i tried a couple of years ago that i just rediscovered. it's called a sestina, and normally it is a form which is artificial and hard to master. i tried to do one using the most un-poetic words i could find...

writers? wankers!

a sestina is bogus
only ponces like sonnets
haikus are for hippies
tripping on zen grass
rod mckuen can kiss my ass
all poets are wankers

forms are for wankers
who's creativity is bogus
i use poetry books to wipe my ass
geriatric people write sonnets
whilst tanning in tall grass
they all once were hippies

writing by old hippies
is rhetoric from new-age wankers
smoked up with sweet grass
so easily termed 'bogus'
many love sick sonnets
are wafted from one lonely ass

heaney was one such stuffy ass
with irish sorrow like sad hippies
writers said he was good at sonnets
but they were all tosspots and wankers
a nobel laureate is decidedly bogus
when a poem is bare toes in tall grass

i've stared at clouds and slept on grass
trekked up mountains on the back of an ass
but feelgood platitudes make poetry bogus
like a cliche mantra of throwback hippies
poetic sentiments that belch from wankers
are best in greeting cards and sonnets

some think poetry is best placed in sonnets
nestled in meadow green grass
prompting pure emotions from smug wankers
or a pose from a playboy-perfect ass
but it's all cliches from hippies
making all such forms bogus

any poetic wankers can sit on their ass
smoke grass like hippies
and write sestinas and sonnets as poems, bogus.


Progressive vs Regressive American Politics

This interesting article in the Washington Post talks about general strategies employed by the current administration to disenfranchise voters in order to maintain a voting base which favours it's re-election. With movements such as Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising Tour and other movements to encourage traditionally apathetic constituencies, there is a huge surge in voter registration for the upcoming election. However there is a consistent attack going on politically between those in power and those not. The article states:

"After four years in the White House, George W. Bush's most significant contribution to American life is this pervasive bitterness, this division of the house into raging, feuding halves. We are two nations now, each with a culture that attacks the other. And politics, as the Republicans are openly playing it, need no longer concern itself with the most fundamental democratic norm: the universal right to vote."

Since Bush is not an elected President, but rather a Supreme Court appointed one, I'm sure he's aware of the loss he could potentially face should the majority who normally remains aloof from the voting process decides to shake off apathy and head to the polls. I'm sure he is aware that in a pure democracy he would not have been in power, and therefore he is not going to encourage democratic principles when it comes to his re-election.

All this increases my severe dislike of divisive politics. I can only watch so much news or read so much commentary about it. I've voted, so all I can hope for is sanity and reason to prevail again.

I think I'm going to read a good book now...

Monday, October 25, 2004

Remote Voting

Despite me living on the underside of the world, I felt it was my civic duty to vote in the upcoming elections in the US. So I got my absentee ballot and was preparing to send it off in the post when a card arrived stating that I needed to vote by the 7th of October or up to 15 days thereafter. Since it was the 20th at the time, I had no choice but to fax my ballot which forfeited my right to give my vote in secret. Although I did get to vote, I disliked the tricks associated with remote voting.

Apparently absentee voting is widely practiced even when people don't have a "legitimate" reason (i.e. they are on the other side of the world). In an editorial in USA Today, the editor talks about the pitfalls of such voting practices, things which I hadn't considered until now...

Given the stories about registration rigging, voter disqualification, and the mass of lawyers being employed to ensure that neither side cheats, it is clear that democracry is an idea that makes a good storefront, but it is rarely used in practice.