Thursday, March 20, 2003

My entry from March 18, the eve of World War III, has prompted some responses. A friend from Berzerkely writes:

"If you think there is *anything* besides the war on, every channel, 24/7 (and this has been the case for days), or that we don't watch the BBC here (it's part of the regular cable line-up) you haven't been in the US recently enough. I agree w/ most of what you say, but it is unfortunate that arguments about the war have to take shots at the stereotypes of American behavior. It entrenches those who disagree with the anti-war side, and alienates those who agree with anti-war sentiment."

Point taken, and I've changed my entry below to reflect that I didn't mean to make an attack on America's intellectuals, or to say that the information is not there (I'm a constant listener of NPR when I'm in America). It's just that most Americans, I believe, don't avail themselves of sources of news they have to go out of their way to get. 60% of the population voted for Nixon's re-election despite the fact that you could read throughout the campaign in Time or Newsweek (if you bothered to read Time or Newsweek) that the gun was all but smoking.

Another friend writes: "My goodness--is there any danger in Abu Dhabi, Vance? I'm shocked at the CNN footage I just saw. I hope you and your family will be safe."

Bush's action has created grave danger for expatriates and American interests everywhere in the Middle East. Basically he attacked the wrong country. Attack was the wrong thing to do in the first place. What I mean is he did not go after the country that everyone around here knows is responsible for instability in the Middle East, a country that also has weapons of mass destruction, and a country that uses these weapons against unarmed civilian populations (ok, and against a few stone-throwers and other pockets of armed resistance mingling among these populations). By going after an Arab regime and ignoring the other problem (oh yeah, there was this afterthought of a roadmap, so not ignoring maybe) he has implicitly supported and joined forces with the sworn enemy of the Arabs. In this part of the world they say 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. This is why there is a steady stream of taxis from Jordan even now, after the bombing has started, flocking INTO Baghdad in support of the Iraqi ruler and people, AGAINST what Bush has now confirmed is a second enemy of the Arabs. Bush is relying on the people of Iraq to rise up against the dictator and join forces with the Americans? It seems about as likely that Palestinians would welcome their Israeli liberators. People in Abu Dhabi are kind and peaceful and pose no threat to the safety of my family, but there are elements in this part of the world and everywhere that will use the moral capital that Bush has squandered after 9/11 to justify violence against Americans like ourselves who staunchly oppose the Bush government's betrayal of what we once understood were commonly shared values of liberty and justice for all. It seems that in Bush's world it's liberty and justice for the strong, rich, and greedy, and you can pick up any newspaper or tune in any TV these days to see how the strong, rich, and greedy inflict their brand of justice on the disempowered.

The upshot is that the SRGs in the world manipulate the rest of us for reasons that can only be explained by psychologists. How for example, can Bush possibly believe his own rhetoric about bringing ultimate peace to the region by putting in place forces of chaos that are endangering everyone throughout the globe, but especially in the Middle East? Saddam and Sharon and Bush have in common that they all have amassed weapons of mass destruction and all three are are equally willing to unleash their military might on innocent bystanders. They are in effect themselves the forces of evil their mothers warned them against, and they've become so confused with the mirrors they use to deceive others that they don't see when they point the finger it's reflecting back on them.

The problem for the people in the world is how to remove these leaders without attacking each other. Bush has made this an infinitely more dangerous world by providing extremists around the world with pretexts to hold the the millions of peaceful bystanders accountable for the crimes of their governments.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that" - Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community" 1967

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Mahatma Gandhi

"The deed is done, the dues can wait." - Gordon Lightfoot, Black Day in July

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

A dirge for freedom on the Eve of War:

The soul of the world is in great distress at the prospect of the imponderable impacts of the reckless adventurism of the Bush administration, unforgivable when contrasted with its inattention to more pressing world needs, including addressing the root cause of the problems in the Middle East (well, yes, there was mention of a Roadmap a few days before the killing was due to start, months after the decision was made to do the deed despite what world leaders, crowds in the streets, or the UN might say).

All around the world Internet traffic records the collective wail of people in recoil over what cannot be stopped now that the lone superpower is primed to rage unchecked, thumbing its nose at a UN powerless to rein in the single-greatest threat to peace on the globe today. Many people in heartland USA have for too long been watching sports and sitcoms on TV peppered with a half hour of local news each night and perhaps a half hour of stage-managed network news, while the rest of the world takes in the view through the more balanced lenses of the BBC and the international version of CNN (much different from the watered-down sound-bite pap CNN repackages for American attention spans). Soon those world-view cameras will be broadcasting images of Iraqi civilians digging out from the rubble entombing the innocent collateral victims of USA aggression. This juxtaposed against already daily images of Israeli air and land attacks on exposed civilians in Gaza and the West Bank will reinforce an unfortunate impression in the mind of the global community NOT supported by a huge minority of American citizens, and probably a majority of American expats (at least those living in the Middle East).

The current American government is not embarked on a course that will resolve the root causes of injustice in the world today. Sadly its actions will exacerbate the problem as our leaders drag us all into ever an ever-widening spiral of violence. A great sadness overwhelms those of us who are powerless to stop terrorism from wherever it is launched, as we realize we are safe neither from individual nor government sponsored mahem. With the new world order now being set by the Bush administration, we are left betrayed by the new minders of what we had thought our country stood for, and we grope to retain our humanity and compassion, no longer with any trusted source of protection.

URLs now redirects to

For what it's worth (not much) you can vote against the war:
Is this guy really in Baghdad? If so these dispatches from a fellow blogger are interesting:
My son Glenn has been participating in peace marches in San Francisco:

Computer training skills - links to sites providing reports and how2z "FREE online training course, fully funded by the Learning Skills Council, no cost to the individual whatsoever"
More information on training teachers to use technology: http://www./

Grateful to John Hawkins for this one: offers "FULL texts of training materials in dozens of areas, including the Microsoft Office Suite--Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access. The only thing is: They are pdfs marked with "Not for Training Use". That just means we can't actually use the evaluation text as a lead text in a training course, but otherwise they are fine study guides. Each of these texts has its own series of quizzes and tests and would make for good companion reading as you are following the ICDL. In fact, if you go to the Certification page, you'll find "fun" crossword puzzles you can complete. These might even be useful in the classroom (if adapted)."

Monday, March 17, 2003
A free interactive simulation for practicing 21st century workplace skills, attributed to Michael Hillinger
This is a compelling Flash simulation about life at the office. Explore the tutoria and then set your task load from 'walk in the park' to 'very busy' and enjoy your day. has amusing videos here:
More about videos in ESL here:
Greymatter is the original opensource weblogging and journal software. With fully-integrated comments, searching, file uploading and image handling, completely customisable output through dozens of templates and variables, multiple author support, and many other features—while having perhaps the simplest installation process and easiest-to-use interface of any program offering this level of functionality
More about Blogs here:
Avatar-me can create (for a fee, of course) "Your 3D graphical, photo-realistic, personalised, virtual representation or image on the Internet ... The avatar is a file that is around 200-500 KB in size [in] Avatar-Me's own *.ame format ... Avatars are viewed after creation in a computer-generated animation sequence at a LBE (Location Based Entertainment) site ... the avatar's face and body can be animated ... the person should be able to wear almost any type of clothing.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Front pages to the world's newpapers:
More on reading:
More on sources of text: