Redheaded Ramblings: Sheila A-stray  

"This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am." -- James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man



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SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY, BLOOD CIRCULATION, TAQI AL-DIN

Bernard Lewis in What Went Wrong?:

The reluctance of the Middle East to accept European science is the more remarkable if one considers the immense contribution of the Islamic civilization of the Middle Ages to the rise of modern science. In the development and transmission of the various branches of science, men in the medieval Middle East -- some Christian, some Jewish, most of them Muslim -- played a vital role. They had inherited the ancient wisdom of Egypt and Babylon. They had translated and preserved much that would have otherwise been lost of the wisdom and science of Persia and Greece. Their enterprise and their openness enabled them to add much that was new from the science and techniques of India and China.

Nor was the role of the medieval Islamic scientist purely one of collection and preservation. In the medieval Middle East, scientists developed an approach rarely used by the ancients -- experiment. Through this and other means they brought major advances in virtually all the sciences.

Much of this was transmitted to the medieval West, whence eager students went to study in what were then Muslim centers of learning in Spain and Sicily, while others translated scientific texts from Arabic into Latin, some original, some adapted from ancient Greek works. Modern science owes an immense debt to these transmitters.

And then, approximately from the end of the Middle Ages, there was a dramatic change. In Europe, the scientific movement advanced enormously in the era of the Renaissance, the Discoveries, the technological revolution, and the vast changes, both intellectual and material, that preceded, accompanied, and followed them. In the Muslim world, independent inquiry virtually came to an end, and science was for the most part reduced to the veneration of a corpus of approved knowledge. There were some practical innovations -- thus, for example, incubators were invented in Egypt, vaccination against smallpox in Turkey. These were, however, not seen as belonging to the realm of science, but as practical devices, and we know of them primarily from Western travelers.

The changing attitudes of East and West in the development and acceptance of scientific knowledge are dramatically exemplified in the discovery of the circulation of the blood. In Western histories of science, this is normally credited to the English physician William Harvey, whose epoch-making "Essay on the Motion of the Heart and Blood" was published in 1628 and transformed both the theory and practice of medicine. His great discovery was preceded and helped by the work of a Spanish physician and theologian, Miguel Serveto, usually known as Michael Servetus (1511- 1553), who owes his place in scientific history to the discovery, published in 1553, of the lesser or pulmonary circulation of the blood. This discovery was anticipated, in surprisingly similar detail, by a 13th century Syrian physician called Ibn al-Nafis. Among his writings was a medical treatse in which, in defiance of the revered authority of Galen and Avicenna, he set forth his theory of the circulation of the blood in terms very similar to those later used by Servetus and adopted by Harvey, but unlke theirs, based on abstract reasoning rather than experiment. Modern orientialist scholarship has shown, with a high degree of probability, that Servetus knew of the work of Ibn al-Nafis, thanks to a Renaissance scholar called Andrea Alpago (died ca. 1520) who spent many years in Syria collecting and translating Arabic medical manuscripts...

Another example of the widening gap may be seen in the fate of the great observatory built in Galeta, in Istanbul, in 1577. This was due to the initiative of Taqi al-Din (ca. 1526 - 1585), a major figure in Muslim scientific history and the author of several books on astronomy, optics, and mechanical clocks. Born in Syria or Egypt (the sources differ), he studied in Cairo, and after a career as a jurist and theologian he went to Istanbul, where in 1571 he was appointed "munejjim-bashi", astronomer (and astrologer) in chief to the Sulutan Selim II. A few years later he persuaded the new Sultan Murad III to allow him to build an observatory, comparable in its technical equipment and its specialist personnel with that of his celebrated contemporary, the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. But there the comparison ends.

Tycho Brahe's observatory and the work accomplished ini it opened the way to a vast new development of astronomical science. Taqi al-Din's observatory was razed to the ground by a squad of Janissaries, by order of the sultan, on the recommendation of the Chief Mufti. This observatory had many predecessors in the lands of Islam; it had no successors until the age of modernization.


Dammit. That is a sad story.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 12:52:00 PM


Saturday, March 22, 2003  

 
NAPOLEON, SUBJECT PEOPLES, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

Lewis connects the dots for us:

The relative weakness of the major Islamic powers had already in a sense been revealed by the first European expansion in Asia, when even small countries like Portugaland the Netherlands were able to establish themselves on the seas and on the coasts in defiance of the Muslim powers. The impotence of the Islamic world confronted with Europe was brought home in a dramatic form in 1798, when a French expeditionary force commanded by a young general called Napoleon Bonaparte invaded, occupied, and governed Egypt. The lesson was harsh and clear -- even a small European force could invade one of the heartlands of the Islamic empire and do so with impunity.

The second lesson came a few years later, when the French were forced to leave -- not by the Egyptians nor by their Turkish suzerains, but by a squadron of the Royal Navy commanded by a young admiral called Horatio Nelson. This lesson too was clear; not only could a European power come and act at will, but only another European power could get them out ...

Meanwhile a new force had arisen, which did much to accelerate and finally accomplish that collapse [of the Ottoman Empire] -- the rise of the subject peoples within the Ottoman Empire. For many centuries, surprisingly to Western eyes, this was not a problem. The confrontation between Ottoman Islam and European Christendom has often been likened to the Cold War of the second half of the 20th century. There are indeed some similarities between the two confrontations, but also significant differences. Perhaps most notable among these is the movement of refugees. In the 20th century this movement was, overwhelmingly, from East to West; in the 15th, 16th, and even in the 17th centuries, it was primarily from West to East. Surely, the Ottomans did not offer equal rights to their subjects -- a meaningless anachronism in the context of that time and place. They did however offer a degree of tolerance without precedent or parallel in Christian Europe ...

The French Revolution, and the arrival of French troops and -- more dangerous -- French ideas in the Eastern Mediterranean brought a radical change. In February 1804, the Serbs launched their first national rising against the Ottomans, who dealt with it partly by suppression, partly by accommodation. In 1815, a second Serb rising was more successful and won them recognition as an autonomous principality under Ottoman suzerainty. The Greek uprising a few years later evoked widespread European support and achieved a sovereign independent Greek kingdom. In the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Christian peoples of the Balkans, one by one and step by step, freed themselves from Ottoman rule.




  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 12:25:00 PM



 
CULTURAL EXCHANGE

Lewis talks about travel.

There had always been Western travelers in the East. They came as pilgrims visiting the Christian holy places; as merchants profiting, by permission of the Sulutans, from the rich Eastern trade; as diplomats, serving in the embassies and consulates established by the European powers in Muslim capitals and provincial cities. There were also captives taken on the battlefield or at sea. Some of these Western visitors entered the service of Muslim governments. In the Western perspective they were adventurers and renegades; for the Muslims they were "muhtadi", those who have found and followed the true path.

The 18th century brought an entirely new category of Western visitors, whom we might describe in modern parlance as "experts". Some came as individuals to offer their services to Ottoman employers. Later, some were even seconded by their governments, as part of an increasingly popular type of arrangement between a Christian or post-Christian country on the one hand and the Ottoman or some other Muslim state on the other. Such arrangements continue to the present day. For Muslims, first in Turkey and later elsewhere, this brought a shocking new idea -- that one might learn from the previously despised infidel.

An even more shockinig innovation was travel from East to West. Previously only captives and a very limited number of special diplomatic envoys had gone that way. Muslims had no holy places in Europe to visit as pilgrims, as Christians visited the Holy Land. There was not much to attract merchants in a Europe that, for many centuries, was still a relatively primitiveplace with little to offer...

Muslims were no strangers to travel. The pilgrimage to Mecca was one of the five basic obligations of the faith, and required Muslims, at least once in a lifetime, to make the necessary journey however long it might be. Muslims also traveled extensively in the countries to the southand to the east of the realms of Islam, in search of merchandise or knowledge. The lands and peoples beyond the northwestern frontier of Islam had little to offer of either, and such travel was in fact discouraged by the doctors of the Holy Law. Western captives in the East who escaped or were ransomed and returned home produced a considerable literature telling of their adventures, of the lands they had seen andthe people they had met in the mysterious Orient. Middle Eastern captives in the West who found their way home for the most part remained silent, nor was there any great interest in the few accounts that survived ...

In the 18th century the situation changed dramatically. Great numbers of special envoys were now sent, with instructions to observe and to learn and, more partcularly, to report on anything that might be useful to the Muslim state in coping with its difficulties and confronting its enemies.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 12:13:00 PM



 
THE TURNING OF THE TIDE

Bernard Lewis maps out the turning of the tide, the slow turning ... when Islam began to decline, and the West began to rise.

Even before the Renaissance, Europeans were beginning to make significant progress in the civilized arts. With the advent of New Learning, they advanced by leaps and bounds, leaving the scientific and technological and eventually the cultural heritage of the Islamic world far behind them.

The Muslims for a long time remained unaware of this. The great translation movement that centuries earlier had brought many Greek, Persian, and Syriac works within the purview of Muslim and other Arabic readers had come to an end, and the new scientific literature of Europe was almost totally unknown to them. Until the late 18th century, only one medical book was translated into a Middle Eastern language -- a 16th century treatise on syphilis, presented to Sultan Mehmed IV in Turkish 1655. Both the choice and the date are significant. This disease, reputedly of American origin, had come to the Islamic world from Europe and is indeed still known in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and other languages as "the Frankish disease". ...Apart from that, the Renaissance, the Reformation, the technological revolutioin passed virtually unnoticed in the lands of Islam, where they were still inclined to dismiss the denizens of the lands beyond the Western fronter as benighted barbarians, much inferior even to the more sophisticated Asian infidels to the east. These had useful skills and devices to impart; the Europeans had neither. It was a judgement that had foro long been reasonably accurate. It was becoming dangerously out of date.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 11:49:00 AM



 
A BRIEF BACKGROUND

From What went wrong?, by Bernard Lewis:

At the peak of Islamic power, there was only one civilization that was comparable in the level, quality, and variety of achievement; that was of course China. But Chinese civilization remained essentially local, limited to one region, East Asa, and to one racial group. It was exported to some degree, but only to neighboring and kindred peoples. Islam in contrast created a world civilization, polyethnic, multiracial, international, one might even say intercontinental.

For centuries the world view and self-view of Muslims seemed well grounded. Islam represented the greatest military power on earth -- its armies, at the very same time, were invading Europe and Africa, India and China. It was the foremost economic power in the world, trading in a wide range of commodities through a far-flung network of commerce and communications in Asia, Europe, and Africa ... It had achieved the highest level so far in human history in the arts and sciences of civilization. Inheriting the knowledge and skills of the ancient Middle East, of Greece and of Persia, it added to them several important innovations from outside ... It was in the Islamic Middle East that Indian numbers were for the first time incorporated in the inherited body of mathematical learning. From the Middle East they were transmitted to the West,where they are still known as Arabic numerals ... In most of the arts and sciences of civilization, medieval Europe was a pupil and in a sense a dependent of the Islamic world, relying on Arabic versoinis even for many otherwise unknown Greek works.


Hard to comprehend nowadays, huh? That is why the question begs to be asked: what the hell went wrong with this once-great and flourishing and successful civilization?



  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 11:31:00 AM



 
WHAT WENT WRONG?

Recently, I read Bernard Lewis' book What Went Wrong?, a book that everybody was talking about in the wake of September 11. It had been written and published during 2001, but before September 11. It looks at the Muslim world, once so ascendant, once the leader, once the birthplace of innovations ... and Lewis tries to figure out where things went wrong, where they slipped, from whence the backwards nature of almost every country in the Middle East came from. This is SO not politically correct, but it is a question which we cannot afford to ignore. So I'm going to pick out some passages to link to here. Food for thought.

Bernard Lewis is one of the most pre-eminent authorities on the Middle East. He has written two dozen books on the subject. I highly recommend you check him out.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 11:28:00 AM



 
SAFWAN

Safwan, as we know, fell to coalition forces without a shot being fired. Here is an incredible piece in The Guardian about this event. Reading it brought tears to my eyes. The terror these people have lived under. Because of what happened at the end of the Gulf War, when Allied forces basically abandoned them to Saddam and his torture-men, the people of Safwan were afraid to celebrate. They were cowed.

Everywhere was the lingering fear that the revenge killings that swept the area in 1991 - a product of US encourage ment and then abandonment of the southern Iraqi revolt - could happen again.

I am sure you have seen the pictures, of young Marines ripping down all the evidence of Saddam's nutso personality cult.

Then there are all the quotes of the people of Safwan. Here's the one everybody keeps linking to:

Ajami Saadoun Khlis, whose son and brother were executed under the Saddam regime, sobbed like a child on the shoulder of the Guardian's Egyptian translator. He mopped the tears but they kept coming.

"You just arrived," he said. "You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave."


Also:

A farmer, Haider, who knew one of the men killed, Sharif Badoun, said: "Killing some is worth it, to end the injustice and suffering." The men around him gave a collective hysterical laugh.

And then this quote from Marine Sergeant Jason Lewis, about the hesitant reception from the residents of Safwan:

At first they were a little hesitant," he said. "As you know, Saddam's a dictator, so we've got to reassure them we're here to stay. We tore down the Saddam signs to show them we mean business.

"Hopefully this time we'll do it right, and give these Iraqis a chance of liberty."


  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 10:51:00 AM



 
THE REAL REASON WE ARE DOING THIS

Look at this woman. Just look.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 10:44:00 AM



 
COFFEE, FOX NEWS

Well, my show opened on Thursday. It has been eclipsed (at least in my blog) by the war. I slept in this morning. Sleeping in for me means getting up at 9 a.m. I wake up with a feeling of apprehension and immediately turn on the television. I know I am not alone.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/22/2003 10:28:00 AM



 
IF WE LOSE....

here are some alternate futures we may have to be prepared for.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 03:53:00 PM


Friday, March 21, 2003  

 
THE SOLDIER WITH THE M&Ms

This picture is everywhere today. So let me link to it, too. The American soldier looks like he's about 15 years old, doesn't he? In the comments section below the photo, someone wrote, and it made me smile:

"Building democracy. One M&M at a time."

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 03:27:00 PM



 
THE WHITE FLAG

Marines are saying that they have more Iraqi surrenders than they can handle.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 01:17:00 PM



 
WOW

What a photo.

The picture is very cool, but also very terrifying. I can't help but imagine what must be going through everybody's consciousness. Everyone's hearts must be throbbing, the Marine with the rifle must be in a heightened state of: "Holy sh** ... okay ... keep calm ... keep it together..." Vibrating with adrenaline ... So much could go terribly disastrous in a moment such as this. A life or death situation.

I want to thank our troops, again, for being so courageous. For being willing to be out there on the front line like that.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 12:58:00 PM



 
I'M TIRED, TOO...

Read this post and you will see why.

It makes no sense to me. "I am not anti-Bush. I am pro-peace."

Great! Great for you! But my next question is: WHAT WOULD YOU DO? WHAT WOULD BE YOUR NEXT STEP IF YOU WERE IN THIS SITUATION?

What would you DO??

A statement of ideology is completely meaningless today ... meaningless, a gesture made by privileged people with no experience of actual tyranny ... You gotta back up your ideas (in my opinion) with: "And here's what I think we should do..."



  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 12:51:00 PM



 
WAR UPDATES

Go to The Command Post. There are bloggers writing there who are glued to the television, posting updates as information comes. I post at the Command Post occasionally, when something new comes up ... but the updates there are even better than the "CNN Breaking News" emails I get. The Command Post, so far, has beaten the "Breaking News" emails, every time.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 12:45:00 PM



 
SHOCK AND AWE

...has begun.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 12:41:00 PM



 
WHERE'S THAT WAR PLAN? I KNOW I PUT IT SOMEWHERE....

Gigglechick describes a moment between Rumsfeld and a reporter which is great. Wish I had seen it myself!

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 10:50:00 AM



 
AGAIN WITH THE "UNILATERALISM"

Re: my post yesterday about unilateralism, and how that term should be retired, seeing as we have over 30 countries with us:

Listening to a reporter from CNN interview a senator early this morning, a Democratic senator (cannot remember which one ... sorry!!), a senator who had opposed the war, but now that it had begun, he was rallying behind the President. Anyway, this senator made some comment about our "unilateral" moves in Iraq, and the reporter, God bless her, said, "Isn't it time, though, that we stop using the term 'unilateralism'? After all, we have over 30 countries working with us."

The senator said, "Well ... that really refers to lack of UN support. 'Unilateralism' is shorthand for having no support from the UN Security Council."

I am SORRY but that strikes me as bulls***. Intellectual dishonesty. If that's what you mean by unilateralism, then SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, JERK-WAD. "Unilateralism" has a completely different meaning than moving forward without the okay of the Security Council. Lame, lame, lame. A lame lame excuse. I am so glad that reporter called him out, thought, even if his defense of himself was lame.

I admit I screamed at the television. It was 7:30 in the morning.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 10:39:00 AM



 
ORANGE

So let me tell you: terror alert is orange. However...here in Manhattan, we ALWAYS live at the orange level. My show opened last night ... and as I walked to the theater I noticed that the entire street had been blocked off with police cars, lights flashing. There were no less than 20 cops in front of one specific building ... and about 6 or 7 police cars and emergency vehicles at the end of the block. I tried to figure out what was going on and got very vague "Everything's under control, ma'am" answers, which was not very reassuring. Turns out there was a bomb scare. Something they clearly took serious enough to block off Broadway. A busy busy street.

We never relax here. We never move out of "orange" mode.

Sitting here, watching CNN, catching up on what happened while I slept.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/21/2003 09:01:00 AM



 
THE MARINES HAVE LANDED

Marines are moving into Iraq from Kuwait at this very moment. I have a tight feeling around my heart. The article I am linking to on CNN may upload slowly. Everyone is clicking on it. It gives a re-cap of what has happened in the last couple of hours.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 01:48:00 PM


Thursday, March 20, 2003  

 
THE PHOTO

Everyone is linking to this, for obvious reasons. It's quite a picture.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 01:44:00 PM



 
SADDAM CLONE?

I watched Saddam's speech last night. The translation made it come off as hallucinatory, ranting, exhausted, nuts. "jihad against the American-Zionist cabal" and all that jazz. Now there's this.

After all, Saddam's men look exactly like him. God forbid one of them would choose a different style for his facial-hair.

What if ...

Stay tuned to Drudge for more developments.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 01:33:00 PM



 
BLOGOSPHERE HEADQUARTERS

This has just been set up: The Command Post. Some of the best bloggers out there are participating. The jury is still out on this redheaded girl's inclusion ... but I am hoping it will be so. Looks to be a good forum. A community.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 12:09:00 PM



 
WOW. JUST WOW.

Just look at this photo of a war veteran. Tom D.: once again, this one's for you.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 11:49:00 AM



 
RETIRE THE TERM "UNILATERALISM"

It's dishonest. It's inaccurate. It disrespects the 30 countries in coalition with us.

Thank you to:

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan.

And ... I know you don't really want to be acknowledged, Bulgaria, but thank you anyway.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 11:38:00 AM



 
COURAGE

An inside-look at the training of the 82nd Airborne in Kuwait. What is intensely moving to me about this piece is the level of discussion, the level of CONCERN about civilian casualties amongst these teenage paratroopers. An honest wrestling with these issues of life and death.

These troops deserve our support, our gratitude. They are putting their lives on the line. They care about their conduct on the battlefield. This is phenomenally important.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 10:43:00 AM



 
PATIENCE

Some words from Jed Babbin, a former Undersecretary of Defense. He speaks about patience. Limited patience.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 10:29:00 AM



 
PRAYER

Praying. Just praying. Watching and praying. Calls coming in from friends I haven't heard from in a while. "Just calling to say that the war started and I wanted you to know that I love you."

I sit here at my desk, in Times Square, my body buzzing with prayer. It is solemn and frightening. My thoughts and prayers are with our armed forces fighting over there. Words cannot express my feelings for them. For their commitment to me, my country, freedom, whatever you want to call it.

Nothing much else to say. Just watching, waiting, praying. Staying very alert.

I pray to God that there will not be another September 11. Not in New York or in any other city. I pray that innocent people will not die. I pray for the Iraqi people ... for their right to freedom, to not be crushed underneath a madman anymore. I pray that terrorists do not run riot throughout the world, wreaking havoc, spreading their hate, making things worse. I pray that Saddam Hussein is TAKEN OUT. I hope the war will not drag on forever. I hope that in a matter of months we see pictures in the news of smiling Iraqis. Still with a lot of work to do, clearly, but ... free. I pray that we do not see a chemical weapon go off, I pray that Hussein does not have some sort of dirty bomb which he launches at Israel ... I cannot stop praying. I am praying for all sorts of things.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/20/2003 10:05:00 AM



 
HYPOCRISY

Great great piece by Pamela Bone.... , a "leftist", who doesn't like Bush, and yet who has some insightful things to say about the hypocrisy on the left. Good for her. It is courageous for a liberal to come out and break with party-line thought.

Some choice quotes:

Some people have asked me how, coming from the left (I've never made any secret of that), I can take a stance condoning war.

Almost everything I write and think on this issue is coloured by having been in Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide - a genocide that happened because the United Nations allowed it to - seeing children with machete scars on their hands where they had put them up to shield their heads, hearing the people's stories, watching bodies being exhumed from mass graves.

It is coloured by having been in southern Africa last year, where a silent holocaust of AIDS and famine is wiping out populations. A baby dies of AIDS every 15 minutes in Botswana. No protest marches for them.

And it is coloured by, years before September 11, before most people had even heard of the Taliban, having listened to exiled Afghan women asking in anguish, why does the West not help us? It is the same question many Iraqi women and men are asking today.


EXACTLY. The "left", the advocates of the downtrodden, have been alarmingly silent for years. On all of the issues they are shrieking about right now. I have no patience for it.

I know the liberation of the people of Iraq is not the reason America and its allies are going to war. But nor is the war "all about oil", or about George Bush's "daddy". It is not even a crusade to impose American values and culture on the rest of the world - they don't need to have a war to do that. It is overwhelmingly about saving Americans. It's about trying to ensure the next September 11 does not involve millions, rather than thousands, of deaths. It seems to me this is a legitimate goal too.

Because we are in a new stage in history, facing dangers we have never faced before. One is the fact that the ability to make weapons of mass destruction is no longer limited to big, powerful states. Weak states, failed states, states ruled by madmen, can all make them, if they are not prevented.


I believe this as deeply as if I had written it myself.

Yes, America is guilty of hypocrisy. But there's a lot of it about.

In Congo an estimated three million people have been killed in the past five years of war. More are killed there every month than in the past two-and-a-half years in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But though you'll see plenty of "Free Palestine" posters among the peace marchers, you won't see any "Free Congo" ones.

The five permanent members of the Security Council are the five biggest weapons sellers in the world.

Let me tell you about that gently spoken peacemaker, Kofi Annan. At the time of the Rwandan genocide he was head of UN peacekeeping operations. When the killings started, urgent diplomatic cables were sent from Rwanda to his office, telling of bodies littering the streets and begging for more UN forces. He ignored them. Did not even pass them on to the Security Council. He has never explained why.


Shame on him. SHAME.







  contact Sheila Link: 3/19/2003 12:46:00 PM


Wednesday, March 19, 2003  

 
THE REALLY IMPORTANT STORY OF THE DAY

In case you were wondering .... in case you were under the mistaken assumption that the approaching WAR is the major story ...

The same movie stars who mouth off their opinions about everything from anthrax to Kofi Annan to foreign policy as though they are elected officials, now have made the decision to not walk down the red carpet. It must have been really tough for them. They must have gone through a lot of soul-searching.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/19/2003 12:40:00 PM



 
TODAY IN HISTORY

1978 - United Nations Security Council voted to send an Interim Force to Lebanon after a massive Israeli air raid on 14 March.

1982 - An Argentine scrap metal dealer landed on South Georgia and planted an Argentinean flag. The situation escalated and eventually led to the Falklands war.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/19/2003 10:30:00 AM



 
TONY BLAIR'S SPEECH

Tony Blair made a speech yesterday to the House of Commons. Andrew Sullivan has said of it: "This speech is one of the finest any prime minister has given in the House of Commons. Period." I am going to excerpt from it extensively, so that you can see for yourself. Tony Blair has not had an easy road. Not in the slightest.

Blair outlines the chronology of Iraq and the weapons inspectors. Read it in cold print, and see what it looks like ... without all the editorializing, and pontificating.

In April 1991, after the Gulf war, Iraq was given 15 days to provide a full and final declaration of all its WMD.

Saddam had used the weapons against Iran, against his own people, causing thousands of deaths. He had had plans to use them against allied forces. It became clear after the Gulf war that the WMD ambitions of Iraq were far more extensive than hitherto thought. This issue was identified by the UN as one for urgent remedy. Unscom, the weapons inspection team, was set up. They were expected to complete their task following the declaration at the end of April 1991.

The declaration when it came was false - a blanket denial of the programme, other than in a very tentative form. So the 12-year game began.

The inspectors probed. Finally in March 1992, Iraq admitted it had previously undeclared WMD but said it had destroyed them. It gave another full and final declaration. Again the inspectors probed but found little.

In October 1994, Iraq stopped cooperating with Unscom altogether. Military action was threatened. Inspections resumed. In March 1995, in an effort to rid Iraq of the inspectors, a further full and final declaration of WMD was made. By July 1995, Iraq was forced to admit that too was false. In August they provided yet another full and final declaration.

Then, a week later, Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, defected to Jordan. He disclosed a far more extensive BW (biological weapons) programme and for the first time said Iraq had weaponised the programme; something Saddam had always strenuously denied. All this had been happening whilst the inspectors were in Iraq. Kamal also revealed Iraq's crash programme to produce a nuclear weapon in 1990.

Iraq was forced then to release documents which showed just how extensive those programmes were. In November 1995, Jordan intercepted prohibited components for missiles that could be used for WMD.

In June 1996, a further full and final declaration was made. That too turned out to be false. In June 1997, inspectors were barred from specific sites.

In September 1997, another full and final declaration was made. Also false. Meanwhile the inspectors discovered VX nerve agent production equipment, something always denied by the Iraqis.

In October 1997, the US and the UK threatened military action if Iraq refused to comply with the inspectors. But obstruction continued.

Finally, under threat of action, in February 1998, Kofi Annan went to Baghdad and negotiated a memorandum with Saddam to allow inspections to continue. They did. For a few months.

In August, cooperation was suspended.

In December the inspectors left. Their final report is a withering indictment of Saddam's lies, deception and obstruction, with large quantities of WMD remained unaccounted for.

The US and the UK then, in December 1998, undertook Desert Fox, a targeted bombing campaign to degrade as much of the Iraqi WMD facilities as we could.

In 1999, a new inspections team, Unmovic, was set up. But Saddam refused to allow them to enter Iraq.

So there they stayed, in limbo, until after resolution 1441 when last November they were allowed to return.

What is the claim of Saddam today? Why exactly the same claim as before: that he has no WMD.

Indeed we are asked to believe that after seven years of obstruction and non-compliance finally resulting in the inspectors leaving in 1998, seven years in which he hid his programme, built it up even whilst inspection teams were in Iraq, that after they left he then voluntarily decided to do what he had consistently refused to do under coercion.

When the inspectors left in 1998, they left unaccounted for: 10,000 litres of anthrax; a far reaching VX nerve agent programme; up to 6,500 chemical munitions; at least 80 tonnes of mustard gas, possibly more than ten times that amount; unquantifiable amounts of sarin, botulinum toxin and a host of other biological poisons; an entire Scud missile programme.

We are now seriously asked to accept that in the last few years, contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence, he decided unilaterally to destroy the weapons. Such a claim is palpably absurd.


I'll say!!

More Blair:

From December 1998 to December 2002, no UN inspector was allowed to inspect anything in Iraq. For four years, not a thing.

What changed his mind? The threat of force. From December to January and then from January through to February, concessions were made.

What changed his mind? The threat of force. And what makes him now issue invitations to the inspectors, discover documents he said he never had, produce evidence of weapons supposed to be non-existent, destroy missiles he said he would keep? The imminence of force.

The only persuasive power to which he responds is 250,000 allied troops on his doorstep.


More from Blair:

Looking back over 12 years, we have been victims of our own desire to placate the implacable, to persuade towards reason the utterly unreasonable, to hope that there was some genuine intent to do good in a regime whose mind is in fact evil. Now the very length of time counts against us. You've waited 12 years. Why not wait a little longer?

Blair obliterates the absurd charge of "rush to war":

Our fault has not been impatience.

The truth is our patience should have been exhausted weeks and months and years ago. Even now, when if the world united and gave him an ultimatum: comply or face forcible disarmament, he might just do it, the world hesitates and in that hesitation he senses the weakness and therefore continues to defy.

What would any tyrannical regime possessing WMD think viewing the history of the world's diplomatic dance with Saddam? That our capacity to pass firm resolutions is only matched by our feebleness in implementing them.

That is why this indulgence has to stop. Because it is dangerous. It is dangerous if such regimes disbelieve us.

Dangerous if they think they can use our weakness, our hesitation, even the natural urges of our democracy towards peace, against us.

Dangerous because one day they will mistake our innate revulsion against war for permanent incapacity; when in fact, pushed to the limit, we will act. But then when we act, after years of pretence, the action will have to be harder, bigger, more total in its impact. Iraq is not the only regime with WMD. But back away now from this confrontation and future conflicts will be infinitely worse and more devastating.


Blair on 20/20 hindsight:

There are glib and sometimes foolish comparisons with the 1930s. No one here is an appeaser. But the only relevant point of analogy is that with history, we know what happened. We can look back and say: there's the time; that was the moment; for example, when Czechoslovakia was swallowed up by the Nazis - that's when we should have acted.

But it wasn't clear at the time. In fact at the time, many people thought such a fear fanciful. Worse, put forward in bad faith by warmongers. Listen to this editorial - from a paper I'm pleased to say with a different position today - but written in late 1938 after Munich when by now, you would have thought the world was tumultuous in its desire to act.

"Be glad in your hearts. Give thanks to your God. People of Britain, your children are safe. Your husbands and your sons will not march to war. Peace is a victory for all mankind. And now let us go back to our own affairs. We have had enough of those menaces, conjured up from the continent to confuse us."

Naturally should Hitler appear again in the same form, we would know what to do. But the point is that history doesn't declare the future to us so plainly. Each time is different and the present must be judged without the benefit of hindsight.


Let me repeat that: HISTORY DOESN'T DECLARE THE FUTURE TO US SO PLAINLY.

Blair on the threat facing us today:

The threat today is not that of the 1930s. It's not big powers going to war with each other. The ravages which fundamentalist political ideology inflicted on the 20th century are memories. The Cold war is over. Europe is at peace, if not always diplomatically.

But the world is ever more interdependent. Stock markets and economies rise and fall together. Confidence is the key to prosperity. Insecurity spreads like contagion. So people crave stability and order.

The threat is chaos. And there are two begetters of chaos. Tyrannical regimes with WMD and extreme terrorist groups who profess a perverted and false view of Islam.

Let me tell the house what I know. I know that there are some countries or groups within countries that are proliferating and trading in WMD, especially nuclear weapons technology.

I know there are companies, individuals, some former scientists on nuclear weapons programmes, selling their equipment or expertise.

I know there are several countries - mostly dictatorships with highly repressive regimes - desperately trying to acquire chemical weapons, biological weapons or, in particular, nuclear weapons capability. Some of these countries are now a short time away from having a serviceable nuclear weapon. This activity is not diminishing. It is increasing.

We all know that there are terrorist cells now operating in most major countries. Just as in the last two years, around 20 different nations have suffered serious terrorist outrages. Thousands have died in them.

The purpose of terrorism lies not just in the violent act itself. It is in producing terror. It sets out to inflame, to divide, to produce consequences which they then use to justify further terror.

Round the world it now poisons the chances of political progress: in the Middle East; in Kashmir; in Chechnya; in Africa.

The removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan dealt it a blow. But it has not gone away.

And these two threats have different motives and different origins but they share one basic common view: they detest the freedom, democracy and tolerance that are the hallmarks of our way of life.

At the moment, I accept that association between them is loose. But it is hardening.

And the possibility of the two coming together - of terrorist groups in possession of WMD, even of a so-called dirty radiological bomb is now, in my judgement, a real and present danger.


Blair on September 11:

What was shocking about September 11 was not just the slaughter of the innocent; but the knowledge that had the terrorists been able to, there would have been not 3,000 innocent dead, but 30,000 or 300,000 and the more the suffering, the greater the terrorists' rejoicing.

Three kilograms of VX from a rocket launcher would contaminate a quarter of a square kilometre of a city.

Millions of lethal doses are contained in one litre of Anthrax. 10,000 litres are unaccounted for. 11 September has changed the psychology of America. It should have changed the psychology of the world. Of course Iraq is not the only part of this threat. But it is the test of whether we treat the threat seriously.


And here, I believe, is where the statesman comes in, the great statesmen:

We must face the consequences of the actions we advocate. For me, that means all the dangers of war. But for others, opposed to this course, it means - let us be clear - that the Iraqi people, whose only true hope of liberation lies in the removal of Saddam, for them, the darkness will close back over them again; and he will be free to take his revenge upon those he must know wish him gone.

And if this house now demands that at this moment, faced with this threat from this regime, that British troops are pulled back, that we turn away at the point of reckoning, and that is what it means - what then?

What will Saddam feel? Strengthened beyond measure. What will the other states who tyrannise their people, the terrorists who threaten our existence, what will they take from that? That the will confronting them is decaying and feeble.

Who will celebrate and who will weep?

And if our plea is for America to work with others, to be good as well as powerful allies, will our retreat make them multilateralist? Or will it not rather be the biggest impulse to unilateralism there could ever be. And what of the UN and the future of Iraq and the Middle East peace plan, devoid of our influence, stripped of our insistence?

This house wanted this decision. Well it has it. Those are the choices. And in this dilemma, no choice is perfect, no cause ideal.

But on this decision hangs the fate of many things:

Of whether we summon the strength to recognise this global challenge of the 21st century and meet it.

Of the Iraqi people, groaning under years of dictatorship.

Of our armed forces - brave men and women of whom we can feel proud, whose morale is high and whose purpose is clear.

Of the institutions and alliances that will shape our world for years to come.

To retreat now, I believe, would put at hazard all that we hold dearest, turn the UN back into a talking shop, stifle the first steps of progress in the Middle East; leave the Iraqi people to the mercy of events on which we would have relinquished all power to influence for the better.

Tell our allies that at the very moment of action, at the very moment when they need our determination that Britain faltered. I will not be party to such a course. This is not the time to falter. This is the time for this house, not just this government or indeed this prime minister, but for this house to give a lead, to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right, to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk, to show at the moment of decision that we have the courage to do the right thing.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/19/2003 10:06:00 AM



 
WAR

Last night, after our incredibly long day, Aedin and I sat in the empty echoing Canal Street subway station, waiting DESPERATELY for a train to come. It was 1:15 am. We were out of our minds, collapsed up next to each other. We waited for 40 minutes for a train. (It's the whole N/R nightmare) We were exhausted, yet also wired. Blabbing our heads off about the play, and about the day in general.

There were two National Guardsmen in the station. They were not waiting for a train. They were stationed there. They had on their fatigues, black berets, and were carrying huge rifles. They just stood there, looking, watching, waiting, not talking to each other. Definitely on duty. Their faces were heartbreakingly young. They literally looked as if they might not shave regularly yet. But there they were.

It is a common sight in New York these days. Who knows, perhaps it is elsewhere in the country as well. I am sure all the major airports, bus terminals, and train stations have National Guardsmen on patrol. It makes me feel safe to see them, but also wary. A sense of threat. The threat is out in the open, it is in the air we breathe.

It suddenly struck me: the LEVEL of organization at the highest levels that would put those two 18 year old National Guardsmen in the Canal Street station. If there were two of them in MY sight, then that means that there are thousands and thousands of them all over the country. It is a bit awe-inspiring. I am not in control of events, but SOMEBODY is ... and the proof is in the presence of those two teenagers with rifles, standing guard over me and my life.

I am grateful for the protection my government gives me. I am thankful that there are those men and women who put themselves in harm's way, to protect my life.

The Canal Street station was completely empty, except for Aedin and me. Two tired actresses carrying enormous backpacks, with shadows under our eyes, talking about the play we are rehearsing. Aedin's Irish accent, my American accent, bursts of laughter, nodding and listening ... nobody else there. But the National Guardsmen were stationed there, regardless. There was no blind Muslim cleric named Mohammad sitting over to the side, sinister, carrying a suspicious looking package. It doesn't matter. The station was being protected, just in case.

Thank you, boys. Thank you.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/19/2003 09:38:00 AM



 
A COUPLE OF THOUGHTS

I pray that we do the right thing. That we use our tremendous power wisely. And for good. I believe in us. I believe in the words coming out of the White House. I also am an intelligent and well-read woman. Not easily duped. I believe our intentions our good. I also know that war is hell. People will die. But I believe that Iraq, as it is now, presents a threat to the entire world.

But I am tired. I am wiped out.

I have a lot of energy for "current events". Keeping up on the news takes up a huge part of my life. But I am winding down.

It is painful to me that the world is so divided and full of rage. People have blinders on. People are not logical. Lee Harris is the man to listen to at this time. He understands. He provides perspective. He has kept a cool head. He sees things.

But still. I am tired.

For the past year I feel like I have been in a fight with someone. It has been a constant struggle.

I'm not complaining.

Or, yes. Maybe I am.

But I do recognize the beauty of free speech. Of living in a country where all voices are heard. I do. This is a blessing. It is a miracle. I thank God for it every day.

I pray all the time. That our leaders will move forward with firmness, humility, and compassion.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/18/2003 09:53:00 AM


Tuesday, March 18, 2003  

 
"THEY DON'T SPEAK FOR ME"

Here is the text of the piece in the LA Times I linked to yesterday. This is for those of you who are not registered.

They Don't Speak For Me by Esra Naama (a member of Women for a Free Iraq )

I am a refugee from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

When Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon and Barbra Streisand speak about the Iraqi people, they are not speaking about people like me, who are Shiite Muslims -- the largest religious group in Iraq that is nonetheless forced to live as second-class citizens under the Sunni regime of Hussein and his Baath Party.

When I was 10, I fled Iraq with my mother and four siblings after the failure of the 1991 uprising against Hussein. My father, a former Iraqi army colonel, was one of the leaders of the uprising and helped organize the resistance forces that fought against Hussein. As a pharmacist with knowledge of military bases in the southern part of Iraq, he took crates of medicine and supplies from army hospitals to the local civilian hospitals. And he attacked every vestige of Hussein's control in my hometown of Al-Diwaniya; he tore down posters of Hussein and restored the old names on the hospitals and public buildings that had been named for Hussein.

At that time, we believed that the coalition forces would come to our assistance. But within a few short days, Hussein brutally crushed us. In the months that followed, tens of thousands of my fellow Shiite Muslims were executed. Entire families were killed. Bodies were left to hang on trees and men were tortured in public. These are the scenes that I relive in my nightmares.

My father went into hiding to escape execution. My mother had no idea whether he was dead or alive. She knew that if Hussein's security forces could not find him, they would come after her children, and we would be imprisoned and tortured to lure my father out of hiding. When they took away my 18-year-old cousin, my mother decided we had to leave. We set off on a long journey, moving to new safe houses every night, until we finally reached the Rafha refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. The camp embodied all the indifference and cruelty with which Arab dictatorships treat their people. We stayed there for nearly two years. We were lucky.

Eventually, my father found his way to the same camp and we were blessed to receive refugee status in the United States on Sept. 17, 1992. My family celebrates this date as our new birthday, the day that we were able to begin our lives as full human beings, with dignity and hope. Growing up in the United States, I often thought about the people we left behind. We lost three relatives. My best friend's father, an army general, was executed for unknown reasons. I have friends who have lost 50 relatives.

Like many others, I am dedicated to ending the suffering of the Iraqi people. They are prisoners in their own land and they yearn for freedom and the simple things that we take for granted -- democracy, freedom of speech, the right to vote. America is their model for the future of Iraq, if only America and the world would help them build it.

I am an American now, and I have been educated to respect the right to free expression by any citizen, a right no member of my family enjoyed when we lived in Iraq. I know from personal experience that the Hollywood actors who decry action against Hussein are really opposing the liberation of the Iraqi people. I wish they would praise the American troops in the field or just stay silent.

There is only one measure of comfort to be found in their statements: When Iraq is finally liberated, these actors will learn that they have never spoken for the people of Iraq.




  contact Sheila Link: 3/18/2003 09:47:00 AM



 
LIFE LIMPS ON

So regardless of world events: I must off to my long technical rehearsal today. And I must gather up my concentration, I must hone in my focus on the task at hand, I must banish distractions. I know how to do this, but it certainly takes a lot out of me. I come home after rehearsal and literally COLLAPSE. I lie on the couch and watch drivel on television. "Blind Date", or "E! True Hollywood Story". I watch Craig Kilborne (I have such a massive crush on that guy ... so massive it's practically embarrassing!) I no longer watch all of the politcal talk shows, etc. I hope to take it up again one day, but right now, it is too exhausting. I read re-caps of all of it every morning, and still feel like I participate. But I need my mental energy to get through the run of this show, and so something has to give.

Along those lines: Today is the day that Eminem's film "8 Mile" comes out on video. I have literally been counting the days. I will own the damn thing by 11 pm tonight. Then I can watch it whenever I want. I am thrilled. I'm like a little kid. Things like that still have the capacity to excite me. Like waiting for Christmas.

Okay, gotta go. Catch you all later.

Peace (but not appeasement)....

  contact Sheila Link: 3/18/2003 08:30:00 AM



 
NOBODY CAN SEE THE FUTURE

A much-needed piece by Christopher Hitchens in Slate: What's the future if we don't act? Every action we take has unforeseen consequences. Hitchens illustrates this by looking at the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and Jimmy Carter's policies. But these unforeseen consequences are no reason not to act. NOBODY can see the future. This is not a huge shock, this is not revolutionary news, and yet people are behaving as though it is so, in terms of invading Iraq. "What's going to happen??" They think that the Bush administration should know the answer. What world do these people live in? A world where people can predict exactly what will happen in the future?

I agree with Hitchens, that there is something disgusting about wanting to "preserve the status quo" in this situation.

Can't really muster up any rage at the moment, although ... if I took a deep breath I probably could.

Today we have our tech/dress rehearsal. A long long long day. Trying to preserve my strength. Not an easy thing.

But anyway: Hitchens' piece is worth the read.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/18/2003 07:54:00 AM



 
BUSH'S SPEECH

I thought it was a good speech (as Bush speeches go), although he did appear from the right side of the screen in a rather abrupt and alarming way. He seemed calm and firm (not exhausted and testy, like his last press conference). He spoke directly to the Iraqi people.

48 hours.



  contact Sheila Link: 3/18/2003 07:33:00 AM



 
TODAY IN HISTORY

1776 - Britain repealed the Stamp Act, despised in its colonies, but retained the right to impose taxes in the future.

1959 - The Boston Celtics' Bill Sharman began what would be the longest string of successful consecutive free throws, 56 in a row, setting a new National Basketball Association record.

And March 18 seems to be a bad day for leaders of nations:

978 - St. Edward the Martyr, King of the English, murdered at Corfe Castle on the orders of his stepmother

1848 - A five-day revolution began in Milan against Austrian rule, forcing the governor, Joseph Radetzky, to withdraw from the city.

1913 - King George I of Greece was assassinated at Salonika.

1970 - Cambodian head of state Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed.

1977 - Congo President Marien Ngouabi was assassinated.

1978 - Former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was found guilty of ordering the assassination of an opponent and sentenced to death.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/18/2003 07:14:00 AM



 
MORE TRUTH

Listen up. "They don't speak for me."

(Thanks, Jayne, for the link.)

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 05:43:00 PM


Monday, March 17, 2003  

 
THE HEADLINE ALONE SAYS IT ALL

A desperate admission....

Here is Sheila's re-enactment of it:
"No, no, no, no, we don't have weapons of mass destruction... NO, WE DON'T ... it is a conspiracy of the West ... there are no weapons of mass destruction here!!" Long pause. "What's that, you ask? Oh .... uh ... well. That's just a little nuclear warhead. But we'll get rid of it."

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 05:24:00 PM



 
TRUTH IS ALWAYS SPECIFIC

Came across an incredible quote of William Blake's (are there any quotes of William Blake's that aren't incredible? Did William Blake ever emit a sentence along the lines of: "Wow, uh, I guess I just, uh, hmmm. I don't know what to say. Uh, let's see--" or was he always articulate on a genius level?).

Listen to this:

The great and golden rule of art, as well as of life is this: That the more distinct, sharp and wiry the bounding line, the more perfect the work of art, and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imitation, plagiarism, and bungling. Great inventors in all ages knew this. Protogenes and Apelles knew each other by this line, Raphael and Michelangelo and Albert Durer are known by this and this alone.

Blake, along those same lines:

Singular and Particular Detail is the Foundation of the Sublime.

Ahhhh. Say that over to yourself 5 times! How beautiful, how true!

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 05:04:00 PM



 
USA, USA

People are marching up and down 7th Avenue, screaming: "USA! USA!" At last ... a display of patriotism in New York City. I will not call it "pro-war", because that's not what's going on at all. If they call us "pro-war", then I will feel free to call them "pro-Saddam". The sound of a crowd of screaming voices fills the air ... all the way down on the street.

Meanwhile, at the 11th hour, my email box is filling up with "pro-Saddam" petitions from people I know who are, of course, anti-war of any kind, anti-American, anti-Bush etc.

Delete, delete, delete.....

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 03:57:00 PM



 
DAVE BARRY SAYS "OUI"

Who isn't pissed off at the French these days? Dave Barry's latest column is filled with suggestions on how to heal this rift. He includes French phrases, which we may say to any French person we meet ... as a way to bridge the cultural gap.

My particular favorite is:

''Je suis un Americain, et, dangue il, je vais vous donner une grande vieille etreinte!'' (``I am an American and, dang it, I am going to give you a big old hug!'')

However, there's a ton of other funny ones in there.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 12:38:00 PM



 
POOR ME

I am working SO HARD at THINGS THAT I LOVE TO DO. And I am SO SO BUSY doing THINGS THAT I LOVE TO DO. Life is DIFFICULT when 90% of your time is taken up with doing THINGS THAT YOU LOVE TO DO.

An old flame (can't really call him an ex-boyfriend!) said to me once, "I think you need to work a little bit on gratitude, Sheila." He said it with love and compassion, not judgment. I got caught up in the difficulty of it all, whatever it was I was going through, rather than taking a moment to be grateful, to be thankful. To give thanks.

It certainly does wonders for the spirit.

Every day I force myself to remember: My life is blessed. My life is blessed. I have my acting, I have my writing. I am working hard at both. Every hour of the day is taken up with some kind of creativity. This is the life I dreamed about when I was a little girl (without the world-wide fame part ...) But still: I just wanted to live the life of an artist when I was a little kid. And I DO.

Over the past weekend, the overwhelming feeling has been of being harassed by my own schedule. "How can I get this all done? The show opens on Thursday ... How am I going to handle all of this??"

Gratitude. Work on gratitude. The old flame said that to me years ago. And I am still "working on gratitude" now. We, as human beings, are always works in progress.

It's the season of Lent. A perfect time for reflection.


  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 09:02:00 AM



 
TODAY IN HISTORY

1906 - In a speech given to the Gridiron Club in Washington, DC, President Theodore Roosevelt coined the word ‘muckrake’.

1912 - Lawrence Oates, an English explorer with Scott's expedition to the Antarctic, left the tent on his 32nd birthday, saying "I am just going outside, and may be some time." He never returned.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 08:38:00 AM



 
THIS IS THE WEEK

I have been locked up in rehearsal for 3 days straight. I still manage to learn what's going on (although an alien from outer space would think that THE story in the United States is Elizabeth Smart coming home ... as opposed to: We're going to war next week. Yes, very happy Elizabeth is home. But it's not the #1 story. I had a hard time, just looking at the newspaper displays on my way into the city, figuring out what ELSE was going on ...)

Today is St. Patrick's Day. A day when all the fake Irish come out of the woodworks. The real Irish could not give a shit about St. Patrick's Day. A girlfriend of mine (also Irish) calls St. Patrick's Day: "amateur night at Alcoholics Anonymous". Anyway, I'm going to avoid the whole thing.

Saw the stupidest anti-war sign in some photo gallery: "LET THE IRAQI PEOPLE CHOOSE REGIME CHANGE FOR THEMSELVES".

Uh ... isn't that, actually, kind of the point, you stupid jerk-wad?? That they are UNABLE TO CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES?

Oh, Lord, help me through this ... help me remember that I am LUCKY to live in a society where all voices can be heard ... I need to be reminded. My impulse is to tear the signs up and scream, "Shut up!!" And I suppose those people would feel the same way about me.

But still. It makes me very angry.

Chirac, too, this weekend said something like: "If he loves his country -- and, as a leader, I am sure that Saddam loves his people -- then blah blah blah..." I stopped listening after that.

My head hurts trying to comprehend such obtusity. Such PURPOSEFUL stupidity. Dude, don't you understand that some people are just power-hungry maniacs? "I am sure that Saddam loves his people..." He loves them as he gasses them? Are you out of your goddamn mind, Chirac??

I'm just tired. Tired of being mad and frustrated.

But this is the week ... when the change will come. When something will happen. When action will be taken. I have a very unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am forced to stay in the very disturbing present-moment ... because I can't see the future. I can't see till Friday! No one can.

But I am SICK of all of the voices out there. Including my own.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/17/2003 08:18:00 AM


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