What's New? 2003-04

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What's New? 2003-04

 Tuesday 29 April 2003
  Because it's been a while since I've made mention of Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf (since nobody has seen nor heard from him since the end of the active conflict in Iraq):

An Arab television network said today that it wants to give a job to former Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, whose colorful daily briefings during the U.S.-led invasion won him a cult following. Ali al-Hadethi of Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite channel, told Reuters that Sahaf, who does not figure on Washington's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, was welcome to join the network immediately as a commentator and analyst. Hadethi said he did not know the former minister's whereabouts. Al Sahaf is seen during an April 5 news conference in Baghdad.


A few hours later, the same day, across the wires from the BBCi:

Saddam's mouthpiece 'seeks surrender'

Former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf is attempting to surrender to US forces, according to a London-based Arabic newspaper.

But Al-Sharq al-Awsat says the Americans have refused to arrest Mr Sahhaf - who became a familiar face during the war with his upbeat assessments of Iraqi military "successes" - because he does not appear on their "most wanted" list of 55 former regime officials.

An Iraqi Kurdish official told the newspaper that Mr Sahhaf was staying at his aunt's house in Baghdad, and was under surveillance by US forces.

He said the former minister was still trying to negotiate his arrest, fearing for his safety in the Iraqi capital.

Mr Sahhaf's daily press briefings in Baghdad during the war, at which his statements were increasingly at odds with reality, made him a cult figure in the West.

 Saturday 26 April 2003
  Seen somewhere on the Internet this evening:
8:58: We go to McDonald's. The woman in front of us in line spends more than 5 seconds contemplating her order. This infuriates me, "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?? MC-SEABASS?? IT'S THE GODDAMN MCDONALD'S MENU, IT'S BEEN THE SAME FOR TEN YEARS! ... JUST ORDER!"

Five seconds? Wow. I've seen people ponder for minutes. People who speak English and seem to have been there a few hundred times before. Too funny.

 Saturday 26 April 2003
  Many years ago I posted a web page which described the plight of Merhan Karimi Nasseri, stranded, stateless and without documents, at Charles de Gaulle airport (near Paris).

I was overwhelmed by his story (which I read in the Boston Globe and included on the page). It became a quest to obtain a photograph of Mr. Nasseri; the photo now appears on the page. Later I read in the Irish Examiner that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees had granted him papers. But still he remains.

Just now I found out that Steven Spielberg is planning on making Mr. Nasseri's story into another movie - yes, there was one done in France - to be released next year. "Terminal" is its working title. I'll be looking for it.

 Friday 25 April 2003
  There are very few people whose voices stop me in my tracks. The two which come to mind are Israel 'Bruddah Iz' Kamakawiwo'ole and Joseph Shabalala, of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

I've been listening to a lot of African music lately because I've been working pro bono on the website of a non-governmental organization in Botswana, the Godisa Trust. Solar-powered hearing aids built by the Deaf and the HIV/AIDS-impacted.

That's what I've been doing this week.

 Friday 18 April 2003
  It's been a long time since I've needed to tweak how I render this web site, but it happened today.

After playing around with the recently released Apple Safari web browser I was determined to figure out how to deploy a favicon via Frontier. I did.

 Thursday 17 April 2003 - Pesach (Passover) night #2
  Had Rose's family over again, to feast on the leftovers.


Lila has been intellectually growing in leaps and bounds. She's been impressing us by her rolling laughter, sentences like "no more apples", understanding our spoken German and English, stacking dowel pieces four tall, and singing good portions of "ABC" and Pufferbellies.


Apple Safari OmniGroup OmniWeb Made a web-browser switch, from OmniGroup OmniWeb 4.5sp7 to Apple Safari 1.0b2. I'd heard that Safari was a faster and more compliant renderer. It's perhaps a bit faster. There are some user interface issues that I prefer in one, others in the other, so I'm continuing my evaluation. I imported all my bookmarks into Safari (taking the time to re-organize them) and added a favicon (favorites icon) to the web site. I'll describe how I did it in a day or two.

 Wednesday 16 April 2003 - Pesach (Passover)
  The seder went off swimmingly! Without a doubt we figured out the maximum capacity of our dining nook: eight place-settings. An card table we added gave us room for another two adults and two babies in high-chairs. The readings went well, the food was well received, and we stayed late into the night over halvah and coffee.


I'm pretty skeptical that this actually was penned by John Cleese, but that's how it came, so that's how I'll present it to you here.

Axis of Evil Wannabees, by John Cleese

Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil," Libya, China, and Syria today announced they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil," which they said would be more evil than that stupid Iran-Iraq-North Korea axis President Bush warned of in his State of the Union address.

Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are Just as Evil...in their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils... best at being evil... we're the best."

Diplomats from Syria denied they were jealous over being excluded, although they conceded they did ask if they could join the Axis of Evil. "They told us it was full," said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"An Axis can't have more than three countries," explained Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "This is not my rule, it's tradition. In World War II you had Germany, Italy, and Japan in the evil Axis. So you can only have three, and a secret handshake. Ours is wickedly cool."

International reaction to Bush's Axis of Evil declaration was swift, as within minutes, France surrendered.

Elsewhere, peer-conscious nations rushed to gain triumvirate status in what became a game of geopolitical chairs.

Cuba, Sudan, and Serbia said they had formed the "Axis of Somewhat Evil," forcing Somalia to join with Uganda and Myanmar in the "Axis of Occasionally Evil," while Bulgaria, Indonesia and Russia established the "Axis of Not So Much Evil Really As Just Generally Disagreeable."

With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs filling up..... Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and Rwanda applied to be called the "Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be Asked to Host the Olympics."

Canada, Mexico, and Australia formed the "Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Some Nasty Thoughts About America," while Scotland, New Zealand and Spain established the "Axis of Countries That Be Allowed to Ask Sheep to Wear Lipstick." "That's not a threat, really, just something we like to do," said Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell.

While wondering if the other nations of the world weren't perhaps making fun of him, a cautious Bush granted approval for most axes, although he rejected the establishment of the Axis of Countries Whose Names End in "Guay," accusing one of its members of filing a false application. Officials from Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chadguay denied the charges.

 Tuesday 15 April 2003 - Tax Day
  Pesach (Passover) seder It's been a busy week, and I've been spending very little time here. Sorry.

We're buried by preparations for Pesach.

For the first time ever we're doing the seder in our very own cottage. I added low-voltage garden lighting so our little place looks even more enchanted during the dark hours. And we're cooking:

Rose is making the matzoh ball soup and both Ashkenazi and Sephardic variants of charoshet. Mmmm.

I'm doing a traditional pot roast (cooking in 10 oz. pureed tomatoes, a half-cup of red wine (a Shiraz, actually), and a half-cup of island-grown coffee from Kaua'i.

Thirteen people in all, including three children. Wish us luck :-)


It seems that war's end at the CBS News Baghdad webcam. It's been an interesting ride. I have opinions; follow the link.


If it weren't so tragic, and were our sin of omission not obvious, delicious would be the irony of having the coalition forces painstakingly avoid Iraqi sites of historical forces but having the local populace of looters and arsonists ransack and gut the Iraq National Library, the principal Islamic library, and National Museum. I'm sad.

 Monday 14 April 2003
  Special Forces I've been noticing that even the most accurate reporters completely confuse the phrases "Special Forces" and "Special Operations Forces".

The former refers to the U. S. Army Special Forces, better-known as the Green Berets.

The latter refers to the many military combatants which have traditionally been called "unconventional forces", the "snake eaters". During Gulf War II SOF have included Navy SEALs (SEa-Air-Land forces), Army Rangers, Army Delta Force, Army Special Forces (the Green Berets), Marine Corps' Force Recon, British Special Air Service, and others.

A military helicopter carries soldiers and military dogs from the Special Force Corp (Kopassus) during celebrations to mark its 51st anniversary at their headquarters in Jakarta, 16 April 2003. (REUTERS/Supri)

 Sunday 13 April 2003
  If Saddam didn't actually have any weapons of mass destruction I guess he shouldn't have played such an aggressive game of "chicken" with the United Nations arms inspectors, eh?
 Saturday 12 April 2003
  From: Dziadzou
To: a whole lot of us
Subject: Preparing for Pesach in Botswana

I received this wonderful message from a colleague of mine, Dr. Harriet Sepinwall, professor and head of the Holocaust Center at College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown NJ (who has come along on my tours with Marches of the Living and Marches of Remembrance and Hope to Poland and Israel). Her sister-in-law's brother is working with deaf children as well as with HIV/AIDS patients in Botswana, Africa. It's a heartwarming message.


== snip ==

Goodmorning my brother, Goodmorning my sister,

Another common greeting here in Botswana. The family, extended family are of primary importance to the people here and I have found the same in most developing countries I have visited. Older people and older relatives are revered, respected and deeply loved. Freud theory of oedipal love would not be understood and would be found to be archaic in developing countries. We talk in North American about the importance of family, the closeness of our family, but when it comes to action, we in North America don't come close to the people in Africa and Asia. How many of us could still live or want to live with our parents? Throw into the household your eldest uncle, a widowed aunt or 2, a few cousins, your sisters children, but not your sister (thankfully) as she is living with her husband's family, and you have a typical household in these countries. Imagine you and your family living with the above family mixture with no Paxil, or Malawi Gold as a key calming ingredient. Often it is the grandparents who rear the children. How many of you would want your parents to bring up your children? Here and most other countries this is the norm. Poverty can be viewed as a cause for people to share a home, but the effect of poverty is an enriched family life. Does wealth bring separation and distance?

Family, the generous spirit and love a family gives to one another is a marvel to witness. I remember at my nieces wedding, her husband remarked at the special relationship between his wife, her 2 sisters and their parents. His first thoughts when seeing them all together was that he was marrying into a cult. Bernie part of a cult? Well I guess that would explain quite a bit. The word, alien, comes to my mind when I think of Bernie but cult works just as well. Thanks Andy for your insight. In any case, the closeness of my sister's family is unique according to North American standards, but pales compared to the family network and relationships here.

This family spirit transcends the household. A friend of yours, will introduce you to someone with the words, "this person is my sister." And she is, but not by our definition. She could be a church sister, a village sister, a cousin who lives in your house, sister. One of the most beautiful images one sees on a daily basis is 2 women sitting and talking together. The physical proximity of the chairs they sit on as they converse is very close. The chairs are placed side by side but facing each other. One chair leg barely brushing against the other chair leg, the friends hands clasp, and their souls are intertwined. The bond is only broken when they share a frequent gentle laugh, as their hands happily slap their laps. You realise that these women are not only friends, because they are talking as sisters. Martine and I are heartened when someone calls us their sister or brother, or most often in my case they call me the old man, which is also a compliment.

There is an African proverb which says, "no grass can grow between friends." Often when talking to a man friend, he will take and hold my hand as we converse. On the streets you often see men holding hands as they talk and walk together. Due to our Puritan upbringing in North America, when you see a man holding another mans hand, only one image comes to mind. Why? Why do we not have the same thought in North American when we see 2 women lock arms and talk as they stroll down a sidewalk? Here in Botswana, when a man holds another man's hand, it is a way of saying I am in contact with you, I am listening to you, and I am present with you, my brother.

You have time in the day for friendship. It is written in a famous Botswana book, The #1 Ladies Detective Agency, that "white people never have the time to sit under a shady tree and just watch cattle graze." When you read this line, at first glance, you are struck by the humour, but upon closer inspection you realise the author is correct. How many of you would like just to sit under a shady tree, drink a cold glass of water, or lemonade or cup of tea with a friend and just watch cows eat grass. I see my friend Simon raise his hand. In North America, the day, the week and years fly by. We hope not to get hit by the debris of life. It wonderful to live in a country where the record speed is 33 1/3 not 78. (I think I'm dating myself) This doesn't mean because the pace of life is slower that we get less accomplished. We achieve other things and often have the time to succeed at different levels.

You are also struck by the generosity of NGOs, corporations and even the National government. At Godisa we recently raised funds to buy a TV- VCR and videocassettes for our deaf workers on HIV virus and AIDS. As you know Botswana has the highest rate of HIV virus in the world at 38% and AIDS education for the deaf is lacking. We want to teach our deaf workers about HIV and then have them go to the other schools for the deaf and teach other children about this virus. Deaf empowerment at its finest. Raising the money was easy as we got the funds, $1,000 CDN, within a week of writing the proposal, (Thank you WUSC). Spending the money was more difficult. We went to several local stores who sold TVs and VCRs telling them how much money we had to spend on a combination unit and the reason for the purchase. Before I got back to my office I got a call from a local store manager from a Sears type outlet telling me he was willing to donate a 51" screen TV, VCR and DVD (?) player. First of all I thanked him, told him I was willing to purchase a unit, but I needed a much smaller portable unit, as this was necessary for the project. He then offered a free combination portable unit plus 5000 pula ($1,300CDN) worth of pens, given his savings in donating a smaller unit. We now have more money for videos in sign language on HIV. The sign language here is a dialect of British sign language so we will get our videos from the UK. As an aside, Britain last week passed a law in their parliament making sign language an official language of the country. Hey, they can walk and shoot a gun at the same time. Way to go, Britain!

This week we finished the fundraising for a vehicle for Camphill Village. (Thank you, my brothers and sisters in North America. For those of you who made this generous donation, I will send you a photo of the villagers around this new (?) 1995 Ford Courier.) One of the donations we received locally for this Ford was from the Toyota dealer in Gaborone. What does this say?

The Government of Botswana will send any and ALL physically disabled people who have finished high school to any university in the world on a full scholarship, including room, board and 2 plane tickets home per year. One of our villagers David who is a paraplegic, and works in the pottery workshop, will be going to Australia in July for a 4-year program, at $20,000 per year, to study studio arts. Botswana University, which is up to world standards is not only free to everyone, but each student is also given the equivalent of $250Cdn per month to cover any other expenses they may incur. They are opening a new medical school and have allocated over $500,000,000US for this new department.

As mentioned the HIV and AIDS are pandemic in Botswana. I would be foolish not to accept that at least 1/3 of my neighbours, co-workers, Botswana friends, people I hug or get hugged by, every day have the HIV virus. This week being Passover, Martine and I will again run a Seder but we will relate it to AIDS. (Thank you Deborah) It will be called the Seder of Hope and relate the Exodus story to AIDS. On the surface there does not seem to be a correlation but many of the themes and symbols are similar. For example, Matzo is often called the bread of affliction. Today in Botswana the scourge of AIDS, producing pain is hard and unyielding as matzo symbol. My favourite part of the Seder was always the search for the afikomen, the hidden and middle piece of matzo from the sedar plate. Much is also hidden from us in the world of AIDS. Like the afikomen, we search for a cure, for compassion and for comfort for AIDS virus. AIDS is one of the 10 plagues of our time. The biblical Jewish people put the blood of a lamb on their door so that God would "pass over" their house and bring the plagues to the houses of their oppressors. But AIDS does not pass over anyone. We are all vulnerable and no community in the modern world is spared. The other Passover symbol of "moror" or bitter herbs will be symbolised to remember those people whose lives have been made bitter by illness and prejudice against those who have AIDS. Haroset, or the fruit mixture, which represents the mortar (straw and clay), used to make the bricks for the pharaohs. Our seder will show and remind us of the walls some people build between themselves and those living with HIV and AIDS.

During the Passover service the story of the 4 children and their questions is always told. The 4 children represented by the wise child, and the wicked one, these two I was always able to imagine in my mind and know in life. The 2 other children are the simple one and the child "who does not know how to ask." For the first time, these last 2 will take on greater significance, as at our supper table will young autistic adults and those with Downs Syndrome. There is also a fifth child. This is the child who did not survive to ask a question. This child will certainly be remembered tonight, as she is every night.

It won't be a morbid supper. It will be very upbeat, with poems read by some of the children who live in our village. One of my friends, Pinkie will sing an old African gospel song about hope, and the deaf workers at Godisa will sign a song.

As I started this letter with a new greeting, I will end it with a new common Botswana salutation. Sala Sentle, which means "go in peace." The response is, Tsamaya Sentle, "stay in peace."

Have a great Passover, Happy Easter, and Sala Sentle, my family


Technologies for a Developing World
Camphill Village
P.O. Box 142
Otse, Botswana
Tel: (++267) 337634
Fax: (++267) 337646

 Tuesday 8 April 2003

Tulips force their way through a blanket of ice and snow at Hershey Gardens, today, in Hershey, PA. Temperatures hovered around 35 degrees today as Hershey Gardens' 30,000 tulips tried to bloom. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Dad is thrilled that he missed this winter. And it seems to be never-ending!


Best of the wire services' photos added to my Gulf War II page. Video moments added to my CBS Baghad cam page.

 Sunday 6 April 2003
CBS Baghad cam CBS News is providing a high-bandwidth video stream from atop some reporters' hotel on the east side of the Tigris River. It's been really fascinating watching the changing scenes and hearing sounds mundane (overheard conversations in a variety of languages) and unusual (small-arms fire, machine-guns, mortar, artillery, and the scream of jets). I suspect that in the near future you may see daily updates which say nothing but:

Best of the wire services' photos added to my Gulf War II page. Video moments added to my CBS Baghad cam page.

 Tuesday 1 April 2003 - April Fool's Day (also St. Stupid's Day)
  Photos of the day posted to the Gulf War II page.

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