Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ngaio Marsh

I've been reading some "trash" from what was probably the golden age of detective fiction, the 20's and 30's. I found the following passage by Ngaio Marsh demonstrated that sometimes these writers can show their stuff:
Mrs. Candour had wept and her tears had blotted her make-up. She had dried them and in doing so had blotted her make-up again. Her face was an unlovely mess of mascara, powder and rouge. It hung in flabby pockets from the bone of her skull. She looked bewildered, frightened and vindictive. Her hands were tremulous. She was a large woman born to be embarrassingly ineffectual. In answer to Alleyn's suggestion that she should sit on one of the chairs, she twitched her loose lips, whispered something, and walked towards them with that precarious gait induced by excessive flesh mounted on French heels. She moved in a thick aura of essence of violet.

Ngaio Marsh – Death in Ecstasy (1936)
I'll let you decide if she was one of the bad guys.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our Complicit Press

From here:
BIG CREEK, Ky. — A part-time census worker found hanging in a rural Kentucky cemetery was naked, gagged and had his hands and feet bound with duct tape, said an Ohio man who discovered the body two weeks ago.

The word "fed" was written in felt-tip pen on 51-year-old Bill Sparkman's chest, but authorities have released very few other details in the case, such as whether they think it was an accident, suicide or homicide.
An accident? A suicide? Let's see, he stripped after he bound himself with duct tape. Move along, rubes, no more Harry Houdini for you.

Anything by our Fourth Estate to mitigate the subterranean beast of 'hatred of the other' that permeates certain strata of our society. Bill Sparkman could easily have been a health care worker. Or an African American. The question becomes that, if we can't exorcise this demon, which we probably can't, how do we live with it? It is a corollary of "the poor are always with us."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

A Kadinsky Crab

I first thought Kaitlyn had drawn this as a crab, but, her real crab is below.
Consider the imagination that puts a rainbow on the carapace of a crab.
Ryan is more traditional but his does look like an M&M.

I asked Amiyah if this was an apple. "Of course not," she replied, "its a heart!" Go figure.

I have absolutely no idea what this is. Perhaps mountains on Ganymede?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Afghanistan and Vietnam

Those of us of a certain age well remember the debacle of Vietnam. My brother, for one, was a Naval Medic attached to the Marine base in Danang. He also experienced front line duty, as in jungle patrols. It was not good, to put it mildly. In our misguided effort to keep the "Communists" (e.g. Chinese) from toppling the dominoes of Southeast Asia, we managed to facilitate the slaughter over a million Vietnamese in addition to getting over 50,000 of our own troops wiped out. In spite of a massive effort on the part of the youth of the world, the War went on for long after it was obviously over. Years later the "threat" from Communist China has turned into our major source of cash, used in large part to line the pockets of those who recently brought the World close to financial ruin (see the current New Yorker for a blow-by-blow article: Eight Days by James B. Stewart.)

Why do I bring this up? Well, I heard the ambassador from the current Afghanistan government to the United States speak on the situation there two days ago. Ambassador Said T. Jawad is an extremely well spoken gentleman. He is, as can be expected, a strong friend and supporter of Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president. His lecture gave a cogent, and compelling argument for the continued involvement of America, the principal NATO force there, in the civil war between the Karzai government and the insurgent Taliban. Yes, I believe him when he states that the Taliban are interested only in winning, and they will do anything to accomplish that goal, particularly engage in terrorism. I also believe him when he states that Taliban infiltrate the country from Pakistan and that the goal is to win the hearts and the minds of the peasants. I also believe him when he says .....

Wait a bloody minute. Where have I heard this mantra before. Was it a certain Mr. Nixon who declared that we would hand the job over to the Vietnamese? We would have "Vietnamization?" That if only America sent 50,000 more troops, they would turn the tide?

Etc., Etc., Etc.

Yes, the Taliban are terrorists. Their methods are brutal and they frequently employ intimidation to control peasant populations in rural Afghanistan. And yes, they finance their movement using money from the poppy trade that makes the heroin that shoots into the veins of Europeans and Americans. We do, and we should, despise them. But, no one has ever been successful in subduing rural Afghanistan, including Flashman. Ambassador Jawad made an important observation. He acknowledged that the structure of most of Afghanistan had been tribal up until the Soviet invasion. But, he observed that there have always been such power structures, e.g. the tribal leader who was an absolute ruler, but that they would not survive, much as the kings of England would not survive, unless they gave something back to those they ruled. While he didn't say so explicitly, he intimated that this was in many cases "security." (Well, one could make an argument that our involvement in Afghanistan is principally because we hoped to guarantee American security by removing the source of terror attacks, Al Qaeda. Life has a way of coming back on itself.) In any case, when the Soviets invaded, this structure was destroyed and that of the war lord took its place. (An interesting book involving war lords is that about the Taiping rebellion in China in the 1860's, God's Chinese Son.)

In any case, it is quite possible that, in spite of our good intentions, in spite of the cogent arguments made for our involvement there by Ambassador Jawad, that, just as in Vietnam, we are doomed to failure. After all, the British controlled India for hundreds of years but had their ups and downs with Afghanistan (see history). I guess it is too soon to see if America, following in our friend's footsteps across the pond, will be any more successful in changing the course there. I certainly hope so. The civilization that Ambassador Jawad outlined seemed one that would appeal to a reasonable person from the West, whether it will to all Afghans remains to be seen.

The picture at the top is the Fort in Western Afghanistan attributed to Alexander the Great on his eastward journey.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging

Yes this is a crab. We questioned its source.

This is also a crab, but there is ambiguity.

The little man gives you some perspective on the size of crabs here on the Eastern Shore. "One crab - One meal" that's our motto.

I think Daniel is into Pokemon.

A little color for the blog.

This is one of the finer portraits of my brother, aka Dr. Zeus.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging (a little late)


Two little dots can convey a lot of character.

A case of the dueling Tyrannosaurus Rexi

There is a quality to this drawing that is amazing: the asymmetry of the background color which may be intentional or may mean the artist was interrupted for his kindergarten immunizations (more likely). Note how he/she brought the color completely to the edge in the left upper corner. (I had to think about whether it was left of right because it was possibly on the right side of the crab, it was facing us, but we don't know.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Friday Crab Blogging (way late)

I assume that Biagia has a fixation on a character from Pokemon.

My motto before coffee...

Gus likes the Easter Bunny look but the claws give it away.

I like nine legs. I like triple symmmetry.