Year ending, year beginning

Posted on: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 14:22 By: Tom Swiss

Hello friends! Happy New Year!

It's been an interesting one here. For those of you I haven't seen in a while: my father had heart surgery this spring (to replace a bad valve), has recovered nicely. We finally settled my grandfather's estate, selling his house; an emotional burden resolved, and a financial resolution we needed (my father having been unable to work for a while, due to the surgery and the condition that necessitiated it). I felt 50 pounds lighter the day after we settled on that house.

This year I traveled to San Francisco for the AOBTA convention; Chicago for the 20th anniversay tournment for the Seido Karate branch there; and Osaka to see my friends Robin and Eric and, well, it's Japan, enough said! I'm now scheming if I might be able to get back to Japan for a longer stay.

With all the energy going into the family stuff, my shiatsu practice has been slow to start, but it is getting moving. (That website again, your friend with the stiff neck or the aching back...)

My music seems to be picking up some momentum, too. For those of you local, I'll be playing the first and third Wednesdays of the next few months at Leadbetters' in Fell's Point (selected Baltimore Magazine's "Best Dive Bar" 2005) from 4-8pm. I'm also looking at finally getting off my butt and recording a CD of my originals.

Z interviews RMS

Posted on: Wed, 12/21/2005 - 00:38 By: Tom Swiss

Z Magazine (or at least it's on-line project "Z Net") interviews Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software movement. RMS discusses globalization, power, and freedom:

If you are against the globalization of business power, you should be for free software....

People who say they are against globalization are really against the globalization of business power. They are not actually against globalization as such, because there are other kinds of globalization, the globalization of cooperation and sharing knowledge, which they are not against. Free software replaces business power with cooperation and the sharing of knowledge.

Globalizing a bad thing makes it worse. Business power is bad, so globalizing it is worse. But globalizing a good thing is usually good. Cooperation and sharing of knowledge are good, and when they happen globally, they are even better.

Iraqis say they're not better off with Saddam gone

Posted on: Mon, 12/19/2005 - 09:24 By: Tom Swiss
An ABC news poll finds that a majority of Iraqis, fifty-two percent, say things in their country are going badly. Only a forty-six percent minority think the country is better off now than it was before the war, and half of Iraqis say the U.S. invasion was wrong.

How do things look for democracy? Overall 57 percent of Iraqis prefer democracy to either strongman rule or an Islamic state. That's a pretty slim majority for such an important idea. It's bad enough that 43% of the people don't prefer rule by the people, but it's even worse that the pro-democracy side makes a majority only because of strong favorable number in Kurdish and in mixed Shiite/Sunni areas. In Shiite areas and Sunni areas, only a minority (45 and 38 percent respectively) prefer democracy.

Bush admists to killing tens of thousands - 100 9/11s.

Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 13:40 By: Tom Swiss
Reuters reports that George W. Bush admitted today that his Iraq policy has killed 30,000 Iraqis. Other estimates that take all war-related "excess deaths" into account (those from disease, malnutrition, and so on) put the civilian death toll as high as 100,000.

Remember that the 9/11 murders killed fewer than 3,000 Americans. And remember that Iraq has a population of only about 1/10 that of the U.S. In proportion, then, Bush's illegal, immoral, and stupid invasion has inflicted between 100 and 300 9/11s worth of deaths on Iraq (and about 2/3rd of a 9/11 on American troops).

Our changing world

Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 10:00 By: Tom Swiss

The Earth's North magnetic pole is moving south at an accelerated rate, meaning that Alaska could lose the "Northern Lights" inside of fifty years.

And a 37-mile long fissure that split open in September in the Afar desert in Ethiopia could be the "birth of a new ocean basin," though that will take millions rather than tens of years.

These are reminders that our planet is on the move, that what we think of as "solid ground" is just an illusion of short timescales.

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