Warning: Constant ABSPATH already defined in /home/public/wp-config.php on line 27
2006 February — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Posts from — February 2006

Before The Fast

As the Pensacola News Journal notes while those areas that were influenced by French Catholicism call today Mardi Gras much of the Christian world refers to today as Shrove Tuesday and instead of King cakes, pancakes are on the menu.

The terms Lent and Easter are derived from Teutonic terms for the spring festival and the goddess of Spring and Dawn, rather than The Fast and The Resurrection which are more correct terms.

In Russia Shrove Tuesday is called Maslenitsa [Масленица-Butter Maiden] and it involves bliny [блины-pancakes], covered in smetana [сметана-sour cream] with ikra [икра-caviar] on top washed down with vodka [водка-little water]. In other areas it is Pancake Day for the same reason. The general idea is to eat up all of the foods that you are going to be avoiding for the next 40 days. The round, golden pancakes are considered sun symbols.

One of the traditions is to make a straw effigy of Maslenitsa to which everyone recounts their sins. At the end of the day the doll and your sins are thrown on a bonfire.

In general everything revolves around rebirth in the Spring.

February 28, 2006   Comments Off on Before The Fast

Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras

The last day before the beginning of Lent on the Gulf Coast that once belonged to France, it is Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday”: Laissez les bon temps rouler!

It was first celebrated in Mobile, Alabama, but the big show these days is in New Orleans, and it is a holiday in the state of Louisiana, because people wouldn’t show up for work anyway, so why fight it.

This year it continues in spite of Katrina, although it will take a decade to look like the old version, and it will never regain what the wind, water, cronyism, and incompetence have destroyed.

For pictures from the local parades you can stop by Barrier Island Girl.

The tradition is to serve King cake, which is a circle of cinnamon bun dough with a white frosting on top sprinkled with sugar colored purple, gold, and green. If that weren’t bad enough, they put the figurine of a baby in the dough, and whoever finds it in their piece is supposed to be lucky. Actually if you find it and don’t choke on it, I guess you are lucky. You should use a small ceramic figurine, as some of the cheap plastic versions melt in the oven [yummy].

February 28, 2006   Comments Off on Shrove Tuesday

Decorating A Cat

While ferrets and dogs don’t seem to mind, there are certain things you need if you want your cat to join in a festive occasion.

Obviously any item must be sized accordingly, which usually means making them yourself. You need to have the backdrop ready so the cat doesn’t spend excessive time in the costume. Make sure the camera is ready and batteries are fully charged. Fully charged spare batteries are a good idea.

Oh, yes, you need to know your blood type and write it on your body with a permanent marker. Type AB positive is best because they are universal recipients. If you’re Type O negative you might want to re-think the entire concept.

Have your cell phone on your body and fully charged. Remember the One held down is the default speed dial number for 911. Don’t forget your insurance card.

Put the bandages, gauze pads, and tourniquet strap near you so that you won’t need much mobility to reach them. The old fashioned sanitary napkin makes an excellent pressure bandage for arterial bleeding.

If you are on good terms with your veterinarian, you might consider getting some tranquilizer tablets. Remember to give at least one to the cat.

Oh, don’t forget to clean the litter box before you begin. Most people don’t mind feeding the cat while you are indisposed but they usually draw the line at the litter box.

February 27, 2006   Comments Off on Decorating A Cat

In Iraq Today

Riverbend reports that her local neighborhood is pulling together to defend itself, but wonders why all of the clerics calling for calm and unity don’t just have their militias stand down.

Professor Cole reports that violence continues at a reduced level, but the curfew had to be suspended so people could buy food and supplies.

Update: From the Washington Post on MSNBC: Iraq’s deadly surge claims 1,300, about three times as many deaths as had been previously reported.

February 27, 2006   Comments Off on In Iraq Today

You Were Saying…

Remember how, when people said that the port deal was a danger to national security, the Shrubbery’s bootlickers said port operators aren’t responsible for security, the Coast Guard is?

Well, according to an article from the Associated Press in the Houston ChronicleDocument: Coast Guard Warned of Port Gaps.

So the agency responsible for port security says this deal is a threat to security.

February 27, 2006   Comments Off on You Were Saying…

The United Arab Emirates

You should check out the official site and the Wikipedia site. They are real sweethearts.

Emirates and Emirs of the United Arab Emirates

  • Abu Dhabi – Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahayan, since 2004
  • Ajman – Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, since 1981
  • Dubai – Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, since 2006
  • Fujairah – Sheikh Hamad bin Muhammad Al Sharqi, since 1974
  • Ras Al Khaimah – Sheikh Saqr bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, since 1948
  • Sharjah – Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, since 1987
  • Umm Al Quwain – Sheikh Rashid bin Ahmad Al Mualla, since 1981

These seven people are also the entire electorate of the UAE. Within their individual emirates they are total autocrats. The Emir of Abu Dhabi is always elected President, and the Emir of Dubai is always elected Vice President and Prime Minister. They are both from clans of the Bani Yas tribe.

The actual structure of the UAE hasn’t actually evolved to the level of feudalism, everything is based on family, clan, and tribal relations. While there are moves to allow people to own land in Dubai, in most of the Emirates the Emir owns everything.

The Emir of Dubai only makes about 6% of his income from oil, the rest comes from trade, including the largest, based on value, free trade zone in the world. They are interested in the flow of trade and interruptions for security or tracing stolen property would be an expense.

Under intense pressure the Emirates has stopped using child slaves for their camel races, but slavery is part of their culture. If you work in the Emirates you have to surrender your passport. The treatment of foreign workers would make Wal-Mart blush.

There is no immigration. If you are not born a member of one of the current families, you can never become a citizen. Citizens don’t normally work, because they don’t have to. Almost everything is free for citizens. Work is done by foreign labor, with the Palestinians, and other Arabs used as managers. Of the approximately 4,041,000 people in the Emirates in 2003, only a little over 20% [≅811,000] are citizens.

“Gifts” are certainly expected to operate in the Emirates, and a failure to be “polite” can result in expulsion on short notice.

If you deal with these seven men, you have no guarantees of anything. If the Emir of Dubai changes his mind, you have no recourse. If they decide not to honor an agreement, there’s nothing you can do about it. You can make a lot of money dealing with Dubai, but you have all the risk.

Corporations pay the Emirates a great deal of money to operate outside of the taxes and laws that afflict their competition. That’s what the “free trade zones” are all about.

Update: Keith at The Invisible Library tells us that the UAE has blocked that well-known threat to civilization Boing Boing.

February 27, 2006   Comments Off on The United Arab Emirates

It Takes A Reader

James Wolcott foregoes snark in the Shattered Dome to ask a few relevant questions about the bombing of the shrine in Samarra.

I admit that I missed it. I knew something was wrong, but wasn’t paying attention. It’s a variation on “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time”¹ or “what’s wrong with this picture”.

Everything is supposed to point to al-Zarqawi, but he would have killed the guards and taken credit for the destruction. Neither occurred. “The dog didn’t bark.” There’s a huge explosion in the middle of a city and no one dies? A group noted for a suicide bomber in a wedding, uses massive amounts of high explosives without killing anyone?

1. Silver Blaze from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

February 26, 2006   Comments Off on It Takes A Reader

Florida Progressive Information Network

An attempt is being made to provide a tool for progressive people and organizations in the “Sunshine State”: Florida Progressive Information Network. “It is a new tool designed to help progressives in Florida respond more effectively to the wide variety of issues we seem to be loosing ground on.”

The idea is to provide a point of contact for people with like-minded views on issues so that efforts can be coordinated and people can find out they are not alone. This is a collection of single-issue groups that are trying to get their messages out to people that agree with them that the issue is important.

February 26, 2006   Comments Off on Florida Progressive Information Network

Righteous Rants

Saturday was a good day for clearing the air about why people need to let the world know what they think. Both Kevin Hayden of The American Street and Susie of The Suburban Guerrilla let it all hang out and testified about why you should care.

If you missed them, go read them. Things are not going to get better unless the people in power figure out that they are in trouble with the people that pay their salaries.

February 26, 2006   Comments Off on Righteous Rants

No Problem For Cruella d’Harris

I’ve seen several people talking about the head of MZM Inc. who just cut a deal in the Randy Cunningham case. He brought up his having made illegal campaign contributions to the current Republican candidate for the Senate in Florida, Katherine “Our Lady of the 2000 Vote Theft” Harris.

Sorry, but as this June, 2005 article in the Pensito Review, makes clear, not only was the 2004 MZM Inc. $50,000 illegal contribution known about, but the illegal 1994 Riscorp $20,292 contribution is part of Cruella’s resumé.

While I don’t doubt she is annoyed by having to spend some of her personal millions on repaying these possible bribes, they are so characteristic of her feeling of entitlement that they don’t affect her base. If you really knew Creulla, you’d realize that this was more probably extortion than bribery. As her unchallenged run displays, running against Harris in a primary is not something any Republican really wants to do.

Karl Rove is lucky that Cruella doesn’t see him as a real threat to her whims or he would find out what a truly nasty campaign can be like. Trust me, it is much better to be a Democrat than a Republican when it comes to Harris.

February 26, 2006   Comments Off on No Problem For Cruella d’Harris

What’s Arabic For “Bull Run”?

The MSM is starting to notice, but they are clapping their hands and trying to believe that “Tinkerbush” will “make it better”.

We have not seen the first open battle, but Professor Cole makes it plain that the clerics who are calling for calm all seem to be “cleaning weapons and issuing ammunition”.

The Kurds can be expected to react by declaring their independence, which will provoke a response from Turkey.

The relatives of the Sunnis in Iraq are honor-bound to support them, which will draw Saudi Arabia and Jordan into the war. Iran will, of course, be honor-bound to provide support, and the Alawis of Syria will also be involved.

The most logical element for the US to ally with are the Baathists elements, the only group really interested in maintaining Iraq as a nation.

This is exactly what was predicted would happen in the first Gulf War, and the reason Saddam was not removed. Control of the Persian Gulf is being handed to the Persians.

February 26, 2006   Comments Off on What’s Arabic For “Bull Run”?

RIP Don Knotts July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006

CNN has his obituary and they remember him, like most people, as Deputy Barney Fife.

This is his Wikipedia entry for more background.

For me, Don Knotts was one of several people, including Ernie Kovacs, Pat Harrington, Jr., Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Dayton Allen and Tom Poston, who were part of Steve Allen’s Tonight Show that I saw while stationed at remote sites around the world, about five years after it was off the air.

The man on the street episodes were a hoot as they were barely scripted and heavily dependent on the personalities that each of the comedians developed to interact with “Steverino”.

You have to be of an age to react to “Schmock! Schmock!”, an in-joke from a long time ago.

February 25, 2006   Comments Off on RIP Don Knotts July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006

The Hits Keep On Coming

Go see Robert at Interstate 4 Jamming to learn about the Federal government finally assigning blame for the mess that was the aftermath of Katrina.

The US Attorney’s office has charged Sheriff Billy McGee of Forrest County, Mississippi with the heinous crime of getting two trucks of ice for his county.

Just unbelievable.

February 25, 2006   Comments Off on The Hits Keep On Coming

For Educational Purposes Only

Something caused me to think about ergot. Some recent event brought it to mind.

Very ancient element in the medicine bundle of wise women, ergot. Probably responsible for some of them being burned at the stake as ergot poisoning is suspected in many of the “witch episodes”.

It is occasionally useful to be aware of naturally occurring medications, if only to know what to avoid.

It’s probably a problem for grain farmers on the Great Plains.

February 25, 2006   Comments Off on For Educational Purposes Only