Ethel's finds
Short quotes from stuff I'm reading (or have read)

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Saturday, October 12, 2002
How has salmon farming affected the whales?

I hear the whales maybe twice a year from my house. It used to be twice a week, before the salmon farming industry arrived. For the first few years it was all OK and I thought, this is good, it will bring jobs and more families. Then the whole thing started to unravel. The farms brought parasites, bacteria and viruses, and the loud underwater noise-makers they use to repel the seals also drove the whales away. This industry would never have been allowed on land. You'd have a huge excrement smear, and you'd have escapees wandering around with oozing sores.

There are more fish farms here every year. The place is going straight down. What it boils down to is that the alternative to farmed salmon--wild salmon - are a political nightmare. You have to negotiate with the US, the aboriginal communities and all the major industries, because of the watersheds. Salmon need so much habitat.

I think the politicians thought they could continue having their wild salmon at the same time as mining, logging and damming. But the thing about salmon is that they make up the loss of nutrients from the watershed by bringing in nutrients from the open ocean. A huge percentage of nitrogen in the trees here is from salmon. If you want to continue cutting trees, you're going to require wild salmon.

Alexandra Morton, Independent scientist / Orca whale authority

posted by John Coxon 1:00 PM

Friday, July 12, 2002

The premise of all this ballyhoo is that the industry (and its artists) are being harmed by free downloading.

Nonsense. Let's take it from my personal experience. My site ( ) gets an average of 75,000 hits a year. Not bad for someone whose last hit record was in 1975. When Napster was running full-tilt, we received about 100 hits a month from people who'd downloaded Society's Child or At Seventeen for free, then decided they wanted more information. Of those 100 people (and these are only the ones who let us know how they'd found the site), 15 bought CDs. Not huge sales, right? No record company is interested in 180 extra sales a year. Butâ?¦ that translates into $2700, which is a lot of money in my book. And that doesn't include the ones who bought the CDs in stores, or who came to my shows.

Janis Ian

posted by John Coxon 5:51 AM

Thursday, July 11, 2002

I don't want to scare you but the last ten have been the most fun. It's sorta like I had the dessert first and thought that's all there was. Then the waiter brought in this rare prime rib that had just enough wild taste to make it memorable beyond belief.

I hear folks complaining about getting old. I don't get it. I see it as time finally tripping us up so we have time to look around to see what's out there besides the obvious.

wroughtn harv

posted by John Coxon 7:29 PM

Monday, July 08, 2002


From Rich Pizor

While MD made some very salient points about religion in modern life, there is one slight but important error punctuating the entire entry: s/he is confusing "athiesm" with "areligion".

To be atheist is not to live without religion; to be athiest is to live in the concerted and very specific belief that there is no God. As a practicer of a personal, home-spun spirituality, this viewpoint strikes me as requiring just as much an act of faith as Christianity, Buddhism, or any other organized religion, because just like all the others it requires that you accept its basic tenets without objective proof. There is no more solid, conclusive evidence demonstrating that God doesn't exist than there is demonstrating that He does. To take either side over the other is a willful act of faith, and both sides certainly have their own dogma and rituals.

For that matter, there's a lot to be said for the argument that athiesm is, in fact, a religion all its own.


PS: Interesting side note: Mathematics also requires an act of faith! The entire system is predicated on the assumption that the value "1" is in all cases equal exactly to "1" (that is to say, any integer is equal exactly and only to itself). This is all well and good, but it is impossible to prove without using the very formulas derived from that assumption. The system is thus entirely self-referential, and will cease to be useful (or at least wholly accurate) if someone can ever prove even a single instance in which an integer is not equal to itself. Not that such an event is particularly likely in the abstract, but it kinda makes you think...society is filled with widely held beliefs (ie the earth is flat) that are later proven to be inaccurate, with profound ramifications that don't really hit home until decades later.

posted by John Coxon 2:28 PM

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Pileated Woodpecker
Dryocopus pileatus

Description 17" (43 cm). A crow-sized woodpecker. Black with white neck stripes, conspicuous white wing linings, and prominent red crest. Male has red "mustache," female has black.

Voice A loud, flicker-like cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk, rising and then falling in pitch and volume.

Habitat Mature forests and borders.

Nesting 4 white eggs in a tree cavity.

Range Resident from British Columbia east across southern Canada to Nova Scotia, south to northern California, southern Idaho, eastern North Dakota, central Texas, and Florida.

Discussion With the probable extinction of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), this is now the largest woodpecker in North America. Despite its size, this elegant woodpecker is often shy and hard to observe. Obtaining a close view of one usually requires careful stalking. Although primarily a forest bird, the "Logcock" has recently become adapted to civilization and has become relatively numerous even on the outskirts of large cities, where its presence is most easily detected by its loud, ringing call and by its large, characteristically rectangular excavations in trees. Its staple food consists of carpenter ants living in fallen timber, dead roots, and stumps. The woodpecker excavates fist-sized rectangular cavities, then uses its enormously long, sticky tongue to reach the ant burrows.

posted by John Coxon 5:41 AM

Friday, July 05, 2002

The room became still as he read a letter that Verrazzano had written to the King of France:

Serenissimo Re,
After one hundred leagues, we came to a most beautiful spot where an immense river flowed to the sea between two little hills. . . . We sailed up the river with our ship and disembarked onto shore. The land was thickly populated. The Indians were of an aspect similar to the others we have met. They were dressed in bird feathers of many colors and they greeted us happily, with exclamations of great joy and wonder. We went up the river half a league, where we discovered a truly enchanting bay about three leagues in circumference. Moving about busily from one shore to another were some thirty boats overflowing with natives who were curious to see us. We christened the new land "Angoleme" after Your hereditary principality, and the bay enclosed by this land we called "Santa Margarita" after the name of Your sister, who exceeds all other women in intelligence and decency. We left this splendid and hospitable new land with true regret.

posted by John Coxon 6:00 AM

Friday, June 28, 2002

"The tendency to be a little odd or eccentric can often be kept under control in younger people, as they modify their behaviour to social norms," says Peter Tyrer, professor of public mental health at Imperial College, who led the study.

"But as people get older there is evidence of reduced plasticity of the nervous system, which makes them less adaptable and increases expression of their odd personality traits," he says.

posted by John Coxon 6:27 AM

Saturday, May 04, 2002

O Sweet Spontaneous Earth


O sweet spontaneous

earth how often have



        fingers of

prurient philosophers pinched




,has the naughty thumb

of science prodded


      beauty               , how

often have religions taken

thee upon their scraggy knees

squeezing and


buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive




to the incomparable

couch of death thy




       thou answerest


them only with


e.e. cummings

posted by John Coxon 5:19 AM

Sunday, February 17, 2002

Toward the end of his address, Sharpton told the parable of the prodigal son. In his race-inflected version of the story, the son leaves home because he feels his family isn't good enough: "I ain't with this no more; you all ain't sophisticated enough for me." He squanders his portion amid high-living strangers, only to be scorned by them. Eventually, the son comes to a realization: "I ain't got to live like this, you all disrespecting me, you all acting like I'm nothing, like I'm lower than the hogs." And so he returns to the place that, in his self-loathing, he had originally rejected.

"'Well, what are you saying, Sharpton?'" Sharpton asked himself. "I'm telling you it's time for us to come home. We wandered out there. We tried to be what we're not. You boogied around the White House for eight years because Clinton didrn't mind letting Negroes the big house. But you didn't take care of the people. You were too busy posing for Christmas pictures, rubbing your nose in champagne jars. But now you're lower than the swine - Ashcroft rubbing your face in the mud. None of your Christmas cards in the White House mean nothing now. You're eating the husk that the swine eat.

"'Well, well, Rev, what are you talking about?' " he went on, his voice rising as he prepared to gather up the morning's many loose threads. "'Mark Green lost!'Yeah, but we didn't. Because to have cobperated we would have lost our dignity. To co6perate with being marginalized and demonized we would have lost our self-respect. When we didrn't have no money in Birmingham, when we didn't have master degrees from Ivy League colleges in Selma, when we didn~t have the ability to write memos on computers in Mississippi, we always had our self-respect. We always had our dignity. And when I think about them little nameless, faceless black women that marched in Birmingham, them babies that laid in front of water hoses, they had some self-esteem and self-respect. Columbia can't give that to you. Harvard can't give that to you. You've got to go home and find out who you are. And something will rise up in you never to fall again. And you can climb through the turbulence. You can survive through the storm. God will make a way. Hold on just a little while longer. We don't have a minute, but hold on anyhow. Because if you hold on, if you hold out, He'll make your enemies leave you alone."

from Elizabeth Kolbert, The People's Preacher, What Al Sharpton wants now
Profiles, The New Yorker, Feb 18 & 25, 2002

posted by John Coxon 9:12 AM

Genetic Savings & Clone, which financed the cloning of the first cat at Texas A&M, was founded by an eccentric Arizona millionaire who wanted to recreate his own dog, Missy. The Web site says its research is "focusing on what we call the `Big 4': dogs, cats, cattle and horses. . . . soon we'll add divisions for Wildlife & Endangered Species, and Assistance and Rescue Dogs. Regardless of whether your animal is a champion bull, a rare white tiger, or a beloved mutt, GSC is the best place to store its DNA â?? and perhaps clone it in the near future!"

We've always worried that biology was racing ahead too fast, before the ethics were sorted out. But biology is merely catching up to the culture.

We live in a facsimile society, where movies, TV and music are all imitative, where we see the same templates over and over. Studios clone plot lines and unmemorable stars. Plastic surgeons clone women with Barbie breasts and lips. Networks clone chiseled anchors and beautiful blond anchorettes. Politics clones poll-shaped pols.

Every neighborhood mirrors every other, with Starbucks, Borders, the Gap and Victoria's Secret.

Until biologists got into it, life used to be the last bastion of the unique. Perhaps we have become so saturated with remakes, replications, homages and franchises that cloning no longer unnerves us. Maybe now we are more unnerved by the prospect that something in the universe may occur just once.

What if originality happened and we missed it?

February 17, 2002
Attack of the Calico Clones

posted by John Coxon 6:59 AM

Monday, January 21, 2002

The notion of law as resource rather than as diktat has a larger than merely pedagogical significance, one that was at the heart of my evening talk. Most laypersons and many lawyers think that the law is a Procrustean bed to which life must be fitted. The opposing view, which I like to think of as that of the sophisticated insider, is that law is an instrument for promoting social welfare and so seeks to strike a sensible balance between competing interests. The theme of my talk was simple: What we call "civil liberties" is a body of rules mainly created by courts out of general language in the Constitution. The rules strike a balance between personal liberty and public safety. When the relative weights of these interests change, the judges, who created the rules in the first place, change them. As concerns with public safety mount, the scope of civil liberties contracts, and as those concerns recede, civil liberties once again expand. That is how it is, and how, in my opinion, it should be.

The outlook that generates this understanding of law is pragmatism—not in any fancy philosophical sense but in the everyday sense in which American culture might be described as pragmatic. Applied to law, it asks judges to weigh consequences rather than to steer by abstractions such as "property," "liberty," "rights," "justice," "fairness," and "equality." The judge who thinks he can reason his way to what is "just" and "fair," a self-appointed moral virtuoso, is unlikely to think seriously about the practical consequences of his decisions. May we be spared those judges, as well as the ones who shirk responsibility for their decisions by imagining themselves a mere transmission belt for conclusions reached hundreds of years ago by the all-knowing framers of the Constitution. The judge is a responsible official, not an oracle; and his responsibility is to use the resources of text, history, and precedent to help him reach practical results that are responsive to the needs of the present day.

Richard Posner
Judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

posted by John Coxon 8:00 AM

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life!


posted by John Coxon 7:39 AM

Friday, December 28, 2001

The New Yorker: Fact

One night, I was sitting in the geodesic dome at North GRIP with Steffensen. He was coming to the end of a month on the ice, and had the weatherbeaten look of someone who has spent too long at sea. "If you look at the paleoclimatic output of ice cores, it has really changed the picture of the world, our view of past climates, and of human evolution," he said, while, next to us, a group of graduate students played board games and listened to the soundtrack from "Buena Vista Social Club." "Now you're able to put human evolution into a climatic framework. You can ask, Why did human beings not make civilization fifty thousand years ago? You know that they had just as big brains as we have today. When you put it in a climatic framework, you can say, Well, it was the ice age. And also this ice age was so climatically unstable that each time you had the beginning of a culture they had to move. Then comes the present interglacial?ten thousand years of very stable climate. The perfect conditions for agriculture. If you look at it, it's amazing. Civilizations in Persia, in China, and in India start at the same time, maybe six thousand years ago. They all developed writing and they all developed religion and they all built cities, all at the same time, because the climate was stable. I think that if the climate would have been stable fifty thousand years ago it would have started then. But they had no chance."

posted by John Coxon 7:13 AM

The New Yorker: Fact
Over the past decade or so, there has been a shift?inevitably labelled a "paradigm shift"?in the way scientists regard the Earth's climate. The new view goes under the catchphrase "abrupt climate change," although it might more evocatively be called neo-catastrophism, after the old, Biblically inspired theories of flood and disaster. Behind it lies no particular theoretical insight?scientists have, in fact, been hard-pressed to come up with a theory to make sense of it?but it is supported by overwhelming empirical evidence, much of it gathered in Greenland. The Greenland ice cores have shown that it is a mistake to regard our own, relatively benign experience of the climate as the norm.

posted by John Coxon 6:32 AM

Monday, December 17, 2001

"Politics is about enmity. It's about getting together with your friends and knocking off your enemies. The basic fallacy of liberalism is the idea that if we get together with reasonable people we can agree on everything. But you can't agree: strife is ineradicable, a fundamental part of nature, in storms and in human relations."

Richard Posner
Judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
from The Bench Burner by Larissa MacFarquhar
The New Yorker 12/10/2001

posted by John Coxon 4:15 AM

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

noah grey

Is it "lying", then? You're damn right it is: it's the art of lying to tell a deeper truth, a truth that you don't get and never will get with any mere amount of button-pushing. And if it's the worse for that, then is the last novel you read any less a novel for being written with a word-processing program, in which sentences were altered and paragraphs rewritten with instant ease? Is the last movie that moved you any less of a movie for not being a real-time unscripted documentary without cuts or post-production? Is any work of art invalid that isn't a spontaneous and completely unplanned first-draft? Because all of those are no less forms of lying than anything you can do in photography, digital or otherwise. Art is a process of working with "negatives" as much in photography as anything else: you can't write a song without leaving some notes unplayed, you can't write a poem without leaving some words unsaid, and you can't take a photograph without leaving something out of frame. Art *is* production, reworking, refinement?taking raw ideas, emotions and experiences, and shaping them into a cohesive individual expression from the base material of words (and word processing programs), sounds (or instruments and recording studios)... and visions (or negatives and graphics software).

posted by John Coxon 5:29 AM

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

In Praise of Bad Habits

A similar sentiment was also, and perhaps most famously, expressed by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. In his 'autobiography' he commented:

"There are people who strictly deprive themselves of each and every eatable, drinkable and smokeable which has in any way acquired a shady reputation. They pay this price for health. And health is all they get out of it. How strange it is. It is like paying out your whole fortune for a cow that has gone dry."

It was Mark Twain, of course, who also urged us to be careful when reading health books. "You might", he warned "die of a misprint."

posted by John Coxon 6:09 AM

In Praise of Bad Habits

In the way that a humble packet of peanuts now has a label which says 'Contains Nuts' - just in case we were unaware of that fact - and an electrical screwdriver has a sticker which warns 'Do Not Insert in Ear' - this lecture may contain statements and arguments which may give rise to intellectual and psychological distress.

posted by John Coxon 5:46 AM

In Praise of Bad Habits

"Neither one person, nor any number of persons, is warranted in saying to another human creature of ripe years that he shall not do with his life for his own benefit what he chooses to do with it. All errors he is likely to commit against advice and warning are far outweighed by the evil of allowing others to constrain him to do what they deem his good." John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

posted by John Coxon 5:43 AM

Monday, November 26, 2001

Rory Block Official Home Page

Life is short, and fragile, and I know we all have a mission. Don't forget that it is a great privilege to be in this miraculous place, and that if you're here, you're chosen.

posted by John Coxon 6:40 AM

Friday, November 23, 2001 A Community PhotoLog

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation). There is an elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."


posted by John Coxon 5:29 AM

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

noah grey

There is, I believe, a constant energy within us, continually recharged and renewed by our emotions and our experiences. And there are two fundamental ways we can choose to use that energy: to create, or to destroy. In the end, there is no other choice?everything we do, everything we allow ourselves to *be*, must be for the one or the other?every single choice we make is in some way, great or small, a choice for life or death. We can take the energy and bury it or deny it sometimes, even for years. But once formed, the energy *must* do something, must eventually be released one way or the other: to tear down, or to build anew.

Noah is back!!

posted by John Coxon 5:59 AM

Monday, November 12, 2001 - Bin Laden: Yes, I did it

He freely admits to being behind the attacks: "If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism then history should be a witness that we are terrorists. Yes, we kill their innocents and this is legal religiously and logically."

In a contradictory section, however, bin Laden justifies killing the occupants of the Twin Towers because they were not civilians - Islam forbids the killing of innocent civilians even in a holy war.

He says: "The towers were supposed to be filled with supporters of the economical powers of the United States who are abusing the world. Those who talk about civilians should change their stand and reconsider their position. We are treating them like they treated us."

posted by John Coxon 6:26 AM

Saturday, November 10, 2001

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town: Current

Exhortations to people to show their patriotism by splurging at the mall or taking Florida vacations may in theory make a certain narrow economic sense, but they are not likely to be followed. Americans understand that this is no time for self-indulgence. The list of public needs, all of which relate to the present crisis, is long, ranging from transportation security and public health to education, infrastructure improvements, and reducing dependence on foreign oil. Stimulating the economy by seriously tackling these needs would gird the country's loins and fit its sombre and selfless mood. The events of the past two months have reminded us of the value of the much neglected public side of our common life. Strengthening that side would nourish the solidarity that was September 11th's only gift.

Hendrik Hertzberg

posted by John Coxon 8:28 AM

Friday, November 09, 2001

Heading West

The Mahican Nation was located along the Housatonic River in Litchfield County Connecticut and Berkshire County Massachusetts and the Hudson River in eastern New York State up to Lake Champlain. They were sometimes called the Canoe Indians or the River Indians. In Massachusetts they were called the Housatonic or Stockbridge Indians.

After a war with the Mohawk in 1664, they moved their capital from Schodac near Albany to Stockbridge. In 1721 one band of them moved to Indiana, and in 1730 a large band of them went to Pennsylvania, where they later merged with the Delaware and Munsee tribes, becoming known as the Stockbridge-Muncee Tribe. Those in the Housatonic Valley became a Praying Town in 1734, and were called the Stockbridge Indians.

The Mahican villages, with their leaders Konkapot and Umpachenee turned to Christianity because they felt that it protected the Europeans from the diseases that were killing their people. Several English families were sent to Stockbridge to become role models to help "civilize the savages." As always happened, the Indians lost all of their land to the civilized English, so resettled in Stockbridge NY, in what is now Madison County. When they lost that, too, some joined the Oneida Nation and others moved with the Brotherton Indians to Wisconsin.

posted by John Coxon 6:31 AM

Randolph's King Philip War

King Philip also explained what led to the uprising:

The English who came first to this country were but an handful of people, forlorn, poor and distressed. My father was then sachem [chief]. He relieved their distresses in the most kind and hospitable manner. He gave them land to build and plant upon. He did all in his power to serve them. Others of their country men came and joined them.

Their numbers rapidly increased. My father's counselors became uneasy and alarmed lest, as they were possessed of firearms, which was not the case of the Indians, they should finally undertake to give law to the Indians, and take from them their country. They therefore advised him to destroy them before they should become too strong, and it should be too late. My father was also the father of the English. He represented to his counselors and warriors that the English knew many sciences which the Indians did not; that they improved and cultivated the earth, and raised cattle and fruits, and that there was sufficient room n the country for both the English and the Indians. His advise prevailed. It was concluded to give victuals to the English. They flourished and increased.

Experience taught that the advice of my father's counselors was right. By various means they got possessed of a great part of his territory. But he still remained their friend until he died. My elder brother became sachem. They pretended to suspect him of evil designs against them. He was seized and confined, and thereby thrown into sickness and died. Soon after I became sachem they disarmed all my people. They tried my people by their own laws and assessed damages against them which they could not pay. Their land was taken.

Sometimes the cattle of the English would come into the cornfields of my people, for they did not make fences like the English. I must then be seized and confined till I sold another tract of my country for satisfaction of all damages and costs. But a small part of the dominion of my ancestors remains. I am determined not to live till I have no country.

Source: History of Swansea

posted by John Coxon 6:06 AM

Sunday, November 04, 2001

The Independent

Late in the evening Mr. Ritter described his political views a "right-leaning, conservative Republican," but his challenge to the orthodox view in the U.S. foreign policy establishment that we must maintain economic sanctions against Iraq has cast him as an outsider. It's a role that clearly makes him bristle.

"It is not unpatriotic to point out the consequences of our actions," said Mr. Ritter, who noted that another TV commentator had recently questioned his patriotism for suggesting that sanctions no longer serve a useful purpose nor can they be justified under international law.

To make his case, Mr. Ritter began with a brief summary of the build-up to the Gulf War.

He pointed out that overproduction of oil by Gulf states like Kuwait had threatened Iraq's economic stability, already weakened by its ill-fated war with Iran.

Saddam Hussein faced a choice: surrender control of his economy to foreign financial managers, or disrupt the flow of oil by overrunning his small neighbor to the east.

Once Iraq had chosen the latter course, the administration of President George Bush, father of the current commander-in-chief, calculated that this nation would not approve of a war for oil.

Instead, the president described the purpose of the Gulf War as a struggle to combat evil, an outlook that echoes through our latest war

posted by John Coxon 5:33 AM

Saturday, October 20, 2001

Independent Enjoyment

But it is, as someone said, not what we don't know that makes us damn fools, it is what we know that isn't so; garbage in, garbage out.

posted by John Coxon 6:20 AM

Friday, October 19, 2001

The Hotline World Extra

"Take a minute and consider how your careless driving affects the people you share these streets with."

-- Message on the warning speeding ticket hijacker Mohamed Atta received in FL last July, Palm Beach Post, 10/19

posted by John Coxon 3:37 PM

A Tweezer Defense Shield?

With such thoughts in mind, I just checked my whole overnight bag ? tweezers and all. But this is not a column about tweezers. It's about the world we now live in, which can make tweezers so dangerous. We have moved from a cold-war system to a globalization system. And in this new networked, integrated world without walls, a tweezers in the hands of the wrong person can turn an airplane into a missile, which, if it hits the right building, can set off dominos that destabilize the whole world. Being poor or uneducated no longer means being weak. Because this new system is an incredible force-multiplier that can super-empower evil people so they can destabilize a superpower.

How do we deal with such a world?

posted by John Coxon 6:04 AM

Thursday, October 18, 2001

LRB | James Buchan: My Hogs

In the murk that is the history of the British pig, three main periods can be descried. The glory days of the pig were the centuries from long before the Roman occupation to the Middle Ages, when pork was the capital source of meat for the population. The half-wild, coarse-bristled, dark brown, prick-eared animal of medieval illuminated calendars foraged in the woods that surrounded the outlying pastures of many villages. In autumn and winter, they were driven out by swineherds to fatten on beech mast and acorns: a practice, beset with folklore and feudal regulation, known as pannage.

[ My dad told a little story of raising a litter of pigs, one of which found a hole on the fence and spent its days off in the woods foraging for acorns. That one grew twice as fast as the others. jhc]

posted by John Coxon 5:59 AM

LRB | James Buchan: My Hogs

The pig has a digestive system that is like our own, but better. It can either compete with us for food or, with an absolute minimum of human intervention - viz a stock fence - can make edible, indeed delicious, what we cannot eat. The result has been a relationship of a certain intimacy, which has been taken to a pitch of mutual benefit in China and parts of Christendom, but has also bred a doctrinal reaction in Judaism and Islam.

posted by John Coxon 5:56 AM

The New York Review of Books: Notes on Prejudice

This makes one certain that there is one goal & one only for one's nation or church or the whole of humanity, & that it is worth any amount of suffering (particularly on the part of other people) if only the goal is attained?" through an ocean of blood to the Kingdom of Love" (or something like this) said Robespierre[3]: & Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, & I daresay leaders in the religious wars of Christian v. Moslem or Catholics v. Protestants sincerely believed this: the belief that there is one & only one true answer to the central questions which have agonized mankind & that one has it oneself? or one's leader has it? was responsible for the oceans of blood: but no Kingdom of Love sprang from it? or could: there are many ways of living, believing, behaving: mere knowledge provided by history, anthropology, literature, art, law makes clear that the differences of cultures & characters are as deep as the similarities (which make men human) & that we are none the poorer for this rich variety: knowledge of it opens the windows of the mind (and soul) and makes people wiser, nicer, & more civilized: absence of it breeds irrational prejudice, hatreds, ghastly extermination of heretics and those who are different: if the two great wars plus Hitler's genocides haven't taught us that, we are incurable.

[Isaiah Berlin writing hurriedly to a friend - exerpted - jhc]

posted by John Coxon 5:41 AM

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The Hotline World Extra

Zeid al-Muhatwari said the U.S. "has gone mad," stating: "The most powerful country in the world is using the most sophisticated weaponry against the poorest people in the world. I can see the U.S. has lost the ability to see things properly and has begun working against its interests" (Yemen Times, 10/15).

posted by John Coxon 6:41 AM

Monday, October 15, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | We are all victims now

Even by its own standards, Operation Enduring Freedom is proving a disaster. Taking western leaders at their word, its stated aim is to defeat terrorism. A reasonable test of their war aims, therefore, would be to ask whether their actions have made a terrorist attack more or less likely. More plainly speaking: do you feel more secure today than you did last Saturday? Americans don't seem to. Police forces and armies are on the highest state of alert possible. In London on Saturday night, hundreds of people were evacuated from restaurants and pubs after a chemical scare and Canterbury Cathedral was cleared of worshippers yesterday after a man dropped some white powder.
Terrorism is not like foot and mouth which, with enough culling, quarantine and road blocks, you can snuff out. It is, depending on the time, the place and the cause in which it is committed, an expression of either the absence of dialogue, the failure of negotiation or a determination by a few to undermine the popular will - and sometimes a mixture of all three at once. It can, for short periods of time, be contained but it cannot be extinguished. Either way it is its political character that distinguishes it from other acts of social violence.

That does not make it better or worse but different and as unlikely a candidate for eradication as other political evils such as racism or corruption. That does not mean that we shouldn't try. It does mean you have to be clear in your objectives, realistic in your expectations and subtle in your means. The bombing of Afghanistan cannot lay claim to any of those attributes. If they kill Osama bin Laden they will create a martyr; if they capture him America will find itself on trial; if he remains on the loose they will have failed.
But the damage has, literally, largely been done. Those here who wilfully confuse anti-war with anti-American, context with cause and explanation with justification in order to polarise debate and deride dissent, now have their wish. Those who did not back the bombing, they say, are appeasers or apologists for the Taliban. They laid out a choice between backing western imperialism on the one hand and Islamic fundamentalism on the other. A growing number in the Muslim world look at the record of both in their area and are opting for the latter. It is thoroughly depressing that they believe that those are the only two options available.

None the less they have been pretty much the only two presented. From the outset Bush has been putting the world "on notice" and warning: "You're either with us or you're against us." Both he, and Blair, act as though there are only two possible responses to the terrorist attacks. Either you bomb one of the poorest, most famine-stricken countries in the world to smithereens, or you do nothing.
America holds fire for 26 days before lashing out at Afghanistan and is praised for its patience. If this is restraint, define rash; if this is justice, then define revenge.

In the meantime every bomb they drop turns what was an unpopular, dangerous outsider into a hero among a significant and growing minority of the Muslim world. With the west's help Bin Laden has managed to present himself as the largest immovable object against American cultural, political and economic hegemony. This is disastrous for all of us. Not only are Bush and Blair not defeating terrorism, they are creating a generation of terrorists for the future. With enemies like these, Bin Laden does not need friends.

posted by John Coxon 6:37 AM

Hornworm: Summer Reverie

Here in caterpillar country
I learned how to survive
by pretending to be a dragon.
See me put on that look
of slow and fierce surprise
when I lift my bulbous head
and glare at an intruder.
Nobody seems to guess
how gentle I really am,
content most of the time
simply to disappear
by melting into the scenery.
Smooth and fatty and long,
with seven white stripes
painted on either side
and a sharp little horn for a tail,
I lie stretched out on a leaf,
pale green on my bed of green,
munching, munching.

by Stanley Kunitz
sent to me by Carol [jhc]

posted by John Coxon 6:35 AM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | How to spread terror for the price of a stamp

It looked like baby powder. A cloud of hospital white, sweet- smelling powder rose from the letter - dusting my face, sweater and hands. The heavier particles dropped to the floor, falling on my pants and shoes. An anthrax hoax, I thought.

posted by John Coxon 6:32 AM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US 'missed chance to kill Taliban chief'

One senior Bush administration official is quoted as saying: "If it was a fuck-up, I could live with it. But it's not a fuck-up, it's an outrage."

posted by John Coxon 6:23 AM

Friday, October 12, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Has the world changed? - Part two Jack Welch, former chairman and chief executive of General Electric

In times of upheaval and market changes such as now there are opportunities: acquisitions are cheaper. This is not callous, no-one cried like I did. I don't mean to be cruel or insensitive but each one of us has got to find what the opportunities and changes brought about by this transition are. This is about going forward, this is about suffering the pain, we all cried, we all felt more than ever in our lives about the poor souls who died for no reason other than they went to work. There was this story about people from executive jets handing out brochures to golfers encouraging them to switch from scheduled to executive jets, and the New York Times said how terrible that was on the back of a tragedy. But there wasn't a golfer there or executive of these companies who didn't feel those people's pain. but there's a changed environment and they have an opportunity to work on.

posted by John Coxon 5:58 AM

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Has the world changed? - Part two Ahdaf Souief, novelist

On Sunday night anyone watching the first pictures of the bomBings of Kabul and Kandahar on TV would have seen Arabic script on their screens and the logo of al-Jazeera, the satellite channel broadcasting from Qatar. Since the attacks in the USA al-Jazeera is apparently the only TV station in the world to have kept a correspondent on the ground in Talibanland. Since it started some four years ago al-Jazeera has taken its journalistic mission pretty seriously. As a result it has fallen foul of various Arab governments and of Yasser Arafat personally. It broke a taboo by being the first Arab channel to feature interviews with Israelis. It is the only Arab news channel to present untouched news and uncensored debate. For this it has garnered an enormous Arab following across the world and has also been lauded and awarded prizes by the West - until last week. Suddenly independent journalism and free speech were not so hot. Colin Powell is said to have raised the issue of al-Jazeera's reporting at his meeting with the ruler of Qatar, and John Simpson on the BBC seemed to be hinting at something murky about "an Arabic TV channel which has strong links with Bin Laden and seems to have been fostering them over the last weeks". Is this another example of the hypocrisy and double standards which have been the 'third' world's principle grievance against the Western governments for the last 50 years? Or am I being paranoid?

posted by John Coxon 5:45 AM

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Has the world changed? Hilary Wainwright
editor, Red Pepper

In the aftermath of September 11th a real international democracy was emerging, with populations communicating with each other - helped by the internet - regardless of the war-mongering of their politicians. In an accelerated process of consciousness raising, people North and South were shocked into addressing the complexities and interconnections of our globalised world and imagining the democratic international institutions that we need. As the US and UK governments now impose their order from a great height from which they can see little, we face the enormous difficulty of keeping open this space for debate, dissent and justice. In neither country are there leaders willing to guard this space. We have to do it ourselves, in close contact with those in the Muslim world who are more directly squeezed between fascist fundamentalism and the imperial West.

posted by John Coxon 6:19 PM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Has the world changed? Sir Michael Howard,
emeritus professor of history at Oxford and Yale universities

The world did not suddenly change on September 11th. We simply woke up to the realisation that a significant number of people regard our secular and materialist civilisation as decadent and evil and are prepared to go to any lengths to destroy it. Such people have existed for a long time; not only in the Moslem world - American fundamentalism and European Fascism have also bred them - and not only among the wretched of the earth. What is new is their capacity to cause really significant damage. They will never entirely go away, but I suspect that once we have hunted down the present lot of conspirators, the world will return to business as usual; that is, unless we allow ourselves to be drawn into a race war that will divide our own societies as well as destabilising the entire world. Our main duty is to ensure that it does not.

posted by John Coxon 6:15 PM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Has the world changed? Elmore Leonard, author

It's like the movies, to have actually seen it. Actually, it outdoes all the big movies that we have seen. It's certainly killed a number of movies. And I bet it's killed a number of novels in progress where Muslim terrorists are the bad guys, because they are now such obvious bad guys. All sorts of novels, many of them probably finished, will have to be scrapped.
I think we have to proceed as though nothing has happened, as though there isn't that threat, as if it's not as likely as it actually might be. I'm not worrying about flying. I can't. I have to proceed as if things are normal. We've got to keep going.
I think Arabs and Muslims, citizens in the US, have to be a little more active in turning in the thousand or however many terrorists there are here. It's unfortunate that people of Muslim faith are taking the brunt of it. They're saying, 'why us, we're American citizens?' But it is Muslims doing it all. We don't see other religions doing it.
We know it can happen again, but I don't think we're thinking it will. I think something else will have to happen before it feels as if this can happen any time, any place, here in America. But you can't top what did happen. God knows you can't top destroying the two symbols of world business. My God, you can't top that.

posted by John Coxon 6:09 PM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Has the world changed? Lynne Segal
professor of psychology and gender studies at Birkbeck college, London
It is almost always the unintended consequences that matter. After Sept 11th the world is the same, only more so. True, there may be some US realignments in the Middle East, widening cracks for discussing the injustices perpetrated on Palestinians. Secular forces in Iran may be strengthened. But overall, the relentless reassertion of US global dominance, the world in its wake, is ubiquitous. Dissenting voices are vigorously proscribed "anti-American", even those of Americans expressing egalitarian sentiments long nurtured, forever assaulted, in the USA.
The revitalised hegemony of existing corporate capitalism, its headquarters in New York, its chief lieutenants in London, was compellingly distilled in Blair's Brighton peroration. Every illusion of an unchallenged world order rolled out. Blair promised that He, and His kind, would eliminate the global inequalities they are even now so ineluctably entrenching. The "power of [his] community" will prevail: the very community which has not even time to nod to its neighbour, as the working day lengthens and genuinely democratic forums fade away.

posted by John Coxon 6:05 PM

In the spring of 1675, New England suffered its first prolonged clash with the Indians. King Philip's war brought to a sudden and violent end a halfcentury of generally cordial relations between the English settlers and the Algonquian tribes of southern New England. Partly because the native population had been sharply reduced by epidemics early in the century, and partly because both the Indians and the colonists made substantial efforts to avoid lethal confrontations, friction between them had been infrequent and brief. The only significant exception, the Pequot War of 1636-1637, pitted Connecticut and Massachusetts against the most powerful tribe in New England. The outcome, however, was gratifying to the English, for most of the other tribes remained neutral or aided the English. The subsequent destruction of the Pequots thoroughly satisfied the colonists and awed the Indians, As Cotton Mather later explained in his Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), "The marvellous Providence of God immediately extinguished that war, by prospering the New-English arms, unto the utter subduing of the Quarrelsome nation and afirightening of all the other natives."

They did not remain permanently "affrightened." By 1675 several tribes, especially the Wampanoag, had accumulated grievances they could no longer bear. The immediate causes of the war are unclear even from the hindsight of three centuries; it is certain, however, that the Wampanoag chief Metacomet-who had earlier been dubbed "Philip" by the English-harbored deep resentment toward Plymouth Colony for encroaching on his tribal lands, curtailing his authority, and treating him and his tribesmen with disdain.

[from the introduction to 'Mary Rowlandson, the Sovereignty and Goodness of God, Puritans among the Indians, Accounts of Captivity and Redemption 1676-1724 by Vaughan & Clark, p31]

[It would appear our habit of "encroaching on his tribal lands, curtailing his authority, and treating him and his tribesmen with disdain" has been a long established habit. jhc]

posted by John Coxon 7:26 AM

The Daily Telegraph - Opinion If I thought Huntington's view had a defect, it was that he did not discuss what I think the crucial ingredient of any Western-Islamic conflict, their quite distinctively different ways of making war. Westerners fight face to face, in stand-up battle, and go on until one side or the other gives in. They choose the crudest weapons available, and use them with appalling violence, but observe what, to non-Westerners may well seem curious rules of honour. Orientals, by contrast, shrink from pitched battle, which they often deride as a sort of game, preferring ambush, surprise, treachery and deceit as the best way to overcome an enemy.

This is not to stereotype Afghans, Arabs, Chechens or any other Islamic nationality traditionally hostile to the West as devious or underhand, nor is it to stereotype Islam in its military manifestation. The difference in styles of warfare is borne out by the fact of military history. Western warfare had its origins in the conflicts of the citizens of the Greek city states who fought to defend the strictly defined borders of their small political units. Beyond their world the significant military powers, however, were nomads, whose chosen method was the raid and the surprise attack. Once they acquired a superior means of mobility, in the riding horse, they developed a style of warfare which settled people found almost impossible to resist.

The Arabs were horse-riding raiders before Mohammed. His religion, Islam, inspired the raiding Arabs to become conquerors of terrifying power, able to overthrow the ancient empires both of Byzantium and Persia and to take possession of huge areas of Asia, Africa and Europe. It was only very gradually that the historic settled people, the Chinese, the Western Europeans, learnt the military methods necessary to overcome the nomads. They were the methods of the Greeks, above all drill and discipline.

posted by John Coxon 6:55 AM

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Independent Argument Viewing Mr bin Laden's latest video tape, Western nations concentrated (if they listened at all) on his remarks about the atrocities in the United States. If he expressed his approval, though denied any personal responsibility, didn't this mean that he was really behind the mass slaughter of 11 September?

Arabs listened with different ears. They heard a voice which accused the West of double standards and "arrogance'' towards the Middle East, a voice which addressed the central issue in the lives of so many Arabs: the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and the continuation of Israeli occupation.

Now, as a long-time resident of Cairo put it yesterday, Arabs believe America "is trying to kill the one man ready to tell the truth''.

posted by John Coxon 7:28 AM

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Guardian Unlimited Observer | Comment | Fighting Islam's Ku Klux Klan This is not Islam any more than the Ku Klux Klan is Christianity. No concessions can be made to either mindset which have more in common with one another than they do with the religions they claim to represent.

To argue, as many Arabs and Muslims are doing today (and not a few liberal Western voices), that 'Americans should ask themselves why they are so hated in the world' is to make such a concession; it is to provide a justification, however unwittingly, for this kind of warped mindset. The thinking is the same as the 'linkage' dreamed up by Saddam Hussein when he tried to get the Arab world to believe that he had occupied Kuwait in 1990 in order to liberate Palestine. The difference being that if the argument was intellectually vacuous then, it is a thousand times more so now.

Worse than being wrong, however, it is morally bankrupt, to say nothing of being counterproductive. For every attempt to 'rationalise' or 'explain' the new anti-Americanism rampant in so much of the Muslim and Arab worlds bolsters the project of the perpetrators of the heinous act of 11 September, which is to blur the lines that separate their sect of a few hundred people from hundreds of millions of peace-loving Muslims and Arabs.

posted by John Coxon 6:52 AM

Saturday, October 06, 2001

A Cautionary Tale for a New Age of Surveillance The promise of America is a promise that we can escape from the Old World, a world where people know their place. When we say we are fighting for an open society, we don't mean a transparent society -- one where neighbors can peer into each other's windows using the joysticks on their laptops. We mean a society open to the possibility that people can redefine and reinvent themselves every day; a society in which people can travel from place to place without showing their papers and being encumbered by their past; a society that respects privacy and constantly reshuffles social hierarchy.

The ideal of America has from the beginning been an insistence that your opportunities shouldn't be limited by your background or your database; that no doors should be permanently closed to anyone who has the wrong smart card. If the 21st century proves to be a time when this ideal is abandoned -- a time of surveillance cameras and creepy biometric face scanning in Times Square -- then Osama bin Laden will have inflicted an even more terrible blow than we now imagine.

posted by John Coxon 6:45 AM

Sunday, September 30, 2001

The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part Two) THE movement nowadays called fundamentalism is not the only Islamic tradition. There are others, more tolerant, more open, that helped to inspire the great achievements of Islamic civilization in the past, and we may hope that these other traditions will in time prevail. But before this issue is decided there will be a hard struggle, in which we of the West can do little or nothing. Even the attempt might do harm, for these are issues that Muslims must decide among themselves. And in the meantime we must take great care on all sides to avoid the danger of a new era of religious wars, arising from the exacerbation of differences and the revival of ancient prejudices.

To this end we must strive to achieve a better appreciation of other religious and political cultures, through the study of their history, their literature, and their achievements. At the same time, we may hope that they will try to achieve a better understanding of ours, and especially that they will understand and respect, even if they do not choose to adopt for themselves, our Western perception of the proper relationship between religion and politics. To describe this perception I shall end as I began, with a quotation from an American President, this time not the justly celebrated Thomas Jefferson but the somewhat unjustly neglected John Tyler, who, in a letter dated July 10, 1843, gave eloquent and indeed prophetic expression to the principle of religious freedom:

The United States have adventured upon a great and noble experiment, which is believed to have been hazarded in the absence of all previous precedent -- that of total separation of Church and State. No religious establishment by law exists among us. The conscience is left free from all restraint and each is permitted to worship his Maker after his own judgement. The offices of the Government are open alike to all. No tithes are levied to support an established Hierarchy, nor is the fallible judgement of man set up as the sure and infallible creed of faith. The Mahommedan, if he will to come among us would have the privilege guaranteed to him by the constitution to worship according to the Koran; and the East Indian might erect a shrine to Brahma if it so pleased him. Such is the spirit of toleration inculcated by our political Institutions.... The Hebrew persecuted and down trodden in other regions takes up his abode among us with none to make him afraid.... and the Aegis of the Government is over him to defend and protect him. Such is the great experiment which we have tried, and such are the happy fruits which have resulted from it; our system of free government would be imperfect without it.

The body may be oppressed and manacled and yet survive; but if the mind of man be fettered, its energies and faculties perish, and what remains is of the earth, earthly. Mind should be free as the light or as the air.

posted by John Coxon 11:19 AM

The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part Two) It should by now be clear that we are facing a mood and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than a clash of civilizations -- the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both. It is crucially important that we on our side should not be provoked into an equally historic but also equally irrational reaction against that rival.

posted by John Coxon 11:12 AM

The Roots of Muslim Rage (Part Two) Islamic fundamentalism has given an aim and a form to the otherwise aimless and formless resentment and anger of the Muslim masses at the forces that have devalued their traditional values and loyalties and, in the final analysis, robbed them of their beliefs, their aspirations, their dignity, and to an increasing extent even their livelihood.

posted by John Coxon 11:08 AM

The Roots of Muslim Rage - 90.09 Why so many Muslims deeply resent the West, and why their bitterness will not easily be mollified
by Bernard Lewis

This article offers to me, so far, the best historical explanation of the Muslim view of the west I've yet found and I'm finding I want to exerpt nearly the whole thing. I give up. May I suggest reading it in its entirety. jhc

posted by John Coxon 10:26 AM

The Roots of Muslim Rage - 90.09 Islam is one of the world's great religions. Let me be explicit about what I, as a historian of Islam who is not a Muslim, mean by that. Islam has brought comfort and peace of mind to countless millions of men and women. It has given dignity and meaning to drab and impoverished lives. It has taught people of different races to live in brotherhood and people of different creeds to live side by side in reasonable tolerance. It inspired a great civilization in which others besides Muslims lived creative and useful lives and which, by its achievement, enriched the whole world. But Islam, like other religions, has also known periods when it inspired in some of its followers a mood of hatred and violence. It is our misfortune that part, though by no means all or even most, of the Muslim world is now going through such a period, and that much, though again not all, of that hatred is directed against us

posted by John Coxon 10:04 AM | News and Analysis | World Article Why do they hate us so much? Along with the shock, anger and grief comes this question. What makes men plan and execute an atrocity on the scale of September 11? To these questions, many offer two answers: their poverty and our policies. Poverty fuels desperation; our policies stoke humiliation. Desperation and humiliation breed terrorism. The answer is to end the poverty and change the policies.

In its naive form, this view is implausible. The people who carried through this attack are far from poor. Many originate in Saudi Arabia, a relatively wealthy oil state. Equally, the west can do little to assuage such enemies, short of disappearing from the region, if not from the world. Osama bin Laden and his associates wish to expunge the "crusader presence" from Islamic holy places and restore the golden age of Islamic supremacy. The aim is not peace with Israel, but its annihilation. By confirming the Israeli presence, a peace agreement could as well increase the risk of terrorist attacks on western targets as reduce it.

The humiliation and rage that spawn what President George W. Bush called terrorist groups "of a global reach" are real. But they are the result of a long-term historic failure, not of recent events. We are eating the fruit of three centuries of bitterness between a dominant west and an enfeebled Islamic world.

Western power and wealth have transformed or destroyed traditional patterns of life everywhere. Yet nowhere has the rise of the west - of which the US is the contemporary avatar and Israel a humiliating symbol - posed a bigger challenge than for the world of Islam, for two reasons.

First, for a thousand years the Islamic world thought itself more powerful, more economically advanced and more intellectually sophisticated than the Christendom with which it contended. Second, western ideas of democracy, liberalism, sexual equality and a law-governed state conflict with Islam's traditional practice.

In assessing the response to the western challenge, Anatole Lieven, a senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, judges that "with the exception of some of the oil-endowed Gulf states and - to a limited degree - Turkey and Malaysia, every single Muslim country has failed to enter the developed world".*

The position is grim. Last year, according to the World Bank, the average income in the advanced countries was $27,450 (at purchasing power parity), with the US on $34,260. Israel's income per head was $19,320. Against this, the average income of the historic belt of Islamic countries that stretches from Morocco to Bangladesh was $3,700. If one ignores the special case of the oil exporters, not one had incomes per head above the world average of $7,350.

Turn then to economic policy. According to World Audit's index of economic freedom, the highest ranks (out of 155 countries) in 2001 were 42nd, for Kuwait, and 48th, for Morocco. A majority of the countries were ranked among the most restrictive in the world (that is, in the ranks above 100). Again, in the well-known Freedom House evaluation of political liberty, just five of these countries (Bangladesh, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Turkey) were judged even partly free. The rest were simply "not free". World Audit places six of these regimes (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan) among the eight most politically repressive in the world.**

Western ideas of political organisation and economic policy have been resisted or rejected. The countries of the Islamic belt are not just poor, but are falling behind other developing countries. In 1950, Egypt and South Korea had much the same standard of living. Today, South Korea's is almost five times as high. Remarkably, India's standard of living is now almost half as high again as Pakistan's.

The failure of the core countries of the Islamic world to match the industrial revolution is not surprising. Apart from the political, social and ideological differences from the west, they lacked fast-running water, coal and iron. Then western imperialism entered the region, depriving it of the capacity for an autonomous response. The last half century has been a different matter. If one puts to one side the special case of Turkey, the principal attempts at modernisation were made by socialist regimes, all of which have failed. Now the region lives with the consequences of that failure in a resurgent fundamentalism and the often repressive reaction of western-supported regimes.

In the words of Bernard Lewis, historian of the Islamic world, "Ultimately, the struggle of the fundamentalists is against two enemies, secularism and modernism. The war against secularism is conscious and explicit . . . The war against modernity is for the most part neither conscious nor explicit, and is directed against the whole process of change that has taken place in the Islamic world in the past century or more."***

The desire for return to a pure form of religion is not new. But the call to a purified faith has wider appeal today than before. Everywhere in the developing world, people must respond to the intrusive impact of the ideas and the prosperity of the western world, in general, and of the US, in particular. But religion makes a difference to the nature of that response. A universal religion with all-embracing political and social claims offers a lens on the world different from that available to a Chinese or a Hindu. Most fundamentalists are in no way terrorists, far from it. But they can offer a reason to die - or to kill.

Western policymakers face harsh realities. They can try to make their countries safer. They can act directly against the terrorist threat. They should try to cajole Israel into a peace acceptable to the Palestinians, though that would not end terrorism by those who believe the Jewish state should disappear. They can also encourage political and economic liberalisation among their clients. But the west cannot make the region rich or politically stable. It cannot secure an accommodation between the traditions of Islam and the demands of the modern world. All it can do is the best it can with the world that there is - and endure.

posted by John Coxon 9:58 AM

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | I told a Pakistani friend not to stand up in the plane At least it is still possible to laugh. I wonder what, if anything, the Afghans streaming towards the Pakistani border to escape annihilation find to laugh about these days. I wonder, also, if any of them have heard of the Roman historian, Tacitus. I would guess that most of them have not. But I am willing to bet that if you translated for them his most famous words, they would think he was a political commentator writing about what is to come in their land: "They make a desolation and call it peace."

posted by John Coxon 4:30 PM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | I told a Pakistani friend not to stand up in the plane Even before George Bush's talk of "a crusade" and the apparent unconcern of the US government to the probability of serious civil strife and violent division within Pakistan if my government were to turn on the Taliban, I - like the great mass of my compatriots - had no affection for the US government in its dealings with the world around us.

Afghanistan Part I, in the 80s, did not end with America and Pakistan walking hand-in-hand into a sunset as the credits rolled, but rather with the US helping to create the Taliban, and then turning its back on the region, leaving Pakistan with refugees, arms, drugs, extremism and little else to show for it. (The Pakistani government is not blameless in this but it is time to address the culpability of all parties involved.) The vast majority of Pakistanis are opposed to both the Taliban and to the prevailing mores of US foreign policy, yet the rhetoric of "either you're with us or you're with the terrorists" would have us believe that dual position is impossible.

posted by John Coxon 4:28 PM

"I am not in agreement with the opinions of the subversive trash called the Guardian. I am in full agreement with President Bush. Either you are with us or against us. Gotta go now." from a friend

posted by John Coxon 6:21 AM

Boston Globe Online / Metro | Region / Hazardous material trucks scrutinized ''This is a simple matter of reading the paper,'' Hendrigan said of his decision to begin scrutinizing drivers. ''They pay me the big bucks to make decisions like this.'

posted by John Coxon 6:05 AM

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan Maybe, of course, I'm wrong. But I think of the friend who lives on Park Avenue who turned to me once and said, out of nowhere, "If ever something bad is going to happen to the city, I pray each day that God will give me a sign. That He will let me see a rat stand up on the sidewalk. So I'll know to gather the kids and go." I absorbed this and, two years later, just a month ago, poured out my fears to a former high official of the United States government. His face turned grim. I apologized for being morbid. He said no, he thinks the same thing. He thinks it will happen in the next year and a half. I was surprised, and more surprised when he said that an acquaintance, a former arms expert for another country, thinks it will happen in a matter of months.

posted by John Coxon 6:14 AM

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Attack and counter-attack Evidence suggests that Washington had planned to move against Bin Laden in the summer. Was the attack on America a pre-emptive strike?

Did Bin Laden decide to get his retaliation in first? And did the new Bush administration make a horrible miscalculation by taking an ill-informed, "tough guy" approach to their fanatical Islamist opponent ?

These are the troubling questions raised by the Guardian's disclosure at the weekend that the Taliban received a specific warning - passed during secret diplomacy in Berlin in July - that the Bush team had prepared a new plan to topple the entire Afghan regime militarily unless they handed Bin Laden over.

If it turns out that our future safety is in the hands of those who might possibly have averted the horror of September 11 by behaving more cautiously, then we owe it to history to establish the true record. But we can be certain that no one presently in charge in Washington will want to do that.

posted by John Coxon 5:39 AM

Saturday, September 22, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Threat of US strikes passed to Taliban weeks before NY attack "Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington, which were allegedly masterminded by the Saudi-born fundamentalist, a Guardian investigation has established.

The threats of war unless the Taliban surrendered Osama bin Laden were passed to the regime in Afghanistan by the Pakistani government, senior diplomatic sources revealed yesterday.

The Taliban refused to comply but the serious nature of what they were told raises the possibility that Bin Laden, far from launching the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon out of the blue 10 days ago, was launching a pre-emptive strike in response to what he saw as US threats."

Very interesting... jhc

posted by John Coxon 7:04 PM

Friday, September 21, 2001

President Bush's Address on Terrorism Before a Joint Meeting of Congress " In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom and may he watch over the United States of America. Thank you"

And as for the rest of humanity... they are on their own I guess. Or do they now fall under our umbrella? jhc

posted by John Coxon 6:45 AM

President Bush's Address on Terrorism Before a Joint Meeting of Congress "Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

"But this country will define our times, not be defined by them."

And might anyone offer another definition... America's world dominance would now appear complete. jhc

posted by John Coxon 6:36 AM

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Archive Search Our leaders have described the recent atrocity with the customary cliche: mindless cowardice. "Mindless" may be a suitable word for the vandalising of a telephone box. It is not helpful for understanding what hit New York on September 11. Those people were not mindless and they were certainly not cowards. On the contrary, they had sufficiently effective minds braced with an insane courage, and it would pay us mightily to understand where that courage came from.

posted by John Coxon 6:14 AM

Sunday, September 16, 2001

Americans Don’t Understand That Their Heritage Is Itself a Threat Thus the why. But why here? Washington is perhaps understandable, but why New York?

The engine that runs the juggernaut that is expansionist American democratic capitalism (which is the force that opens the way for American cultural predominance) is housed, chiefly, in a comparatively few high-profile buildings at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Americans look (or in the case of the World Trade Center, looked) on these buildings as some of the most distinctive symbols of all that our city and nation can achieve and have achieved.

Our enemies in this war, by contrast, looked at them and saw ? still see ? the death of their own values, their own ways of life, their effective autonomy. Such perception breeds both malice and fear. Inside those buildings, the people behind this attack believe, is where the end of the societies they come from and the values that they live by was and is being planned (whether consciously or not), and there is where the erosion must be stopped. The terrorist obsession with the World Trade Center was, in this light, not irrational. In fact it was, viewed in the context of a war of cultures, entirely understandable.


The people of this country, it has often been truly said, have a very bad sense of their own heritage, and New Yorkers tend to be among the worst offenders in this area. We have been known to pull down historic structures with remarkably little concern, to crumble and pave over our past in order to make way for what we hope will be an even more profitable future. But there are moments when we must overcome this blind tendency and look to our history for both inspiration and solace. We know in our collective memory the nature of this struggle; that understanding must now move from our subconscious to the very forefront of our minds so that we can accept the full dimensions of the conflict that will very soon engulf the lives of not only New Yorkers and Washingtonians but all Americans.

posted by John Coxon 7:02 AM

The Suffering Find Their Champions, and They Are Not All Gandhis One lesson we took from Pearl Harbor was the necessity of being prepared; after the war, we maintained standing armies and arsenals as we had never done before. But we learned a greater lesson than readiness from the Second World War, with its 60 million dead. We learned that violence originates in suffering ? in poverty and disorder that bows to fanaticism when the world turns its back. The suffering find their champions, and they are not all Gandhis.

posted by John Coxon 6:50 AM

Sunday, July 29, 2001

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

John Stuart Mill, from his essay “On Liberty”

posted by John Coxon 6:45 AM

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

I've gone through life believing in the strength and competence of others; never in my own. Now, dazzled, I discover that my capacities are real. It's like finding a fortune in the lining of an old coat.
~ Joan Mills

(submitted by Jane)

posted by John Coxon 12:15 PM

Thursday, June 21, 2001

"Being a minority in both caste and class, we moved about anyway on the hem of life, struggling to consolidate our weaknesses and hang on, or to creep singly up into the major folds of the garment." Our peripheral existence, however, was something we had learned to deal with, probably because it was abstract."

Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye

posted by John Coxon 12:13 PM

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

"I think it demeans the United States as a government to have a federal deathpenalty law. For the most powerful democracy in the world to rely on the death penalty to control its citizens is an indication of its weakness, not its strength."

Dr John R. Smith
psychiatrist who rendered an opinion of Timothy McVeigh's fitness to stand trial; for the defense. From an interview with Mark Singer just before McVeigh's originally scheduled execution. New Yorker magazine May 28, 2001 p69.

posted by John Coxon 5:12 AM

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

NYPress - Human Follies - Lionel Tiger - Vol. 14, Iss. 18 Nevertheless, humans evolved as omnivores, and we seem well-equipped to eat well-balanced and moderate diets of the foods that were in our environment as we evolved?animals, fish, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, berries and honey when we could get it. Ample fruits, vegetables and nuts may deliver protective impacts, and are obviously one sign of the current good gastronomic fortune of North Americans?our temperate climate provides us with a good cross-section of an ideal grocery store. And it would be irresponsible to avoid stressing exercise as a factor in healthy nutrition?we were born to run for our dinner.

posted by John Coxon 6:14 AM

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

Living Art - Catherine Jamieson We can't turn 'I shouldn't have' into 'I won't' - maybe all we can do is share our 'shouldn't haves' and hope it generates an 'I won''t in someone else.

posted by John Coxon 8:04 PM

Monday, April 30, 2001

Wind on the gangplank

There was almost no soil in that part of the range - just twelve miles' breadth of rough pink rock. "As you go from Chicago west, soil diminishes in thickness and fertility, and
when you get to the gangplank and up here on top of the Laramie Range there is virtually none," Love said. "It's had ten million years to develop, and there's none. Why? Wind - that's why. The wind blows away everything smaller than gravel."

Standing in that wind was like standing in river rapids. It was a wind embellished with gusts, but, over all, it was primordially steady: a consistent southwest wind, which had been blowing that way not just through human history but in every age since the creation of the mountains - a record written clearly in wind - scored rock. Trees were widely scattered up there and, where they existed, appeared to be rooted in the rock itself. Their crowns looked like umbrellas that had been turned inside out and were streaming off the trunks downwind. "Wind erosion has tremendous significance in this part of the Rocky Mountain region," Love said, "Even down in Laramie, the trees are tilted. Old-timers used to say that a Wyoming wind gauge was an anvil on a length of chain. When the land was surveyed, the surveyors couldn't keep their tripods steady. They had to work by night or near sunrise. People went insane because of the wind." His mother, in her 1905 journal, said that Old Hanley, passing by the Twin Creek school, would disrupt lessons by making some excuse to step inside and light his pipe. She also described a man who was evidently losing to the wind his struggle to build a cabin:

He was putting up a ridgepole when the wind was blowing. He looked up and saw the chipmunks blowing over his head. By and by, along came some sheep, dead. At last one was flying over who was not quite gone. He turned around and said, "Baa" - and then he was in Montana.

Book 3: Rising from the Plains
Annals of the Former World
John McFee
paperback, p323

posted by John Coxon 6:25 AM

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Was love then like a bag of assorted sweets passed around from which one might choose more than once? Some might sting the tongue, some invoke night perfume. Some had centers as bitter as gall, some blended honey and poison, some were quickly swallowed. And among the common bull's-eyes and peppermints a few rare ones; one or two with deadly needles at the heart, another that brought calm and gentle pleasure. Were his fingers closiong on that one?

from The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx paperback p315

posted by John Coxon 5:59 AM

Monday, March 26, 2001

Reason magazine -- March 2001, The Whipping Boy by Jib Fowles The general veneration that greets the academy is a sign of its near-sacred station and of the importance of its role in, as Bourdieu would view it, the reproduction of the dominant class and its habitus. Although the rewards of academics are middling in terms of financial capital, the cultural capital they accrue cannot be surpassed. To have a college degree -- only about one-quarter of American adults do -- is to have the credential of the dominant; not to have a college degree is to remain forever among the dominated.

posted by John Coxon 5:47 AM

Sunday, March 25, 2001

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson I suppose you have to relive your traumas in a way that is somewhat controlled and contained in order to move on from them. Some things you can walk quickly away from and never look back and other things bid you look again and again until you see something of the truth of them. I believe you have to let yourself remember and relive, that you have to find a way to settle with your past because you and it are always going to occupy the same headspace - you cannot separate yourself from anything you have ever done or seen or thought. You have to be able to look at the elements of the past without flinching and I believe that sometimes takes a few kicks at the cat. Or it does for me, anyway. It doesn't change anything - but it makes it easier to be comfortable in my skin.

posted by John Coxon 6:44 PM

Saturday, March 24, 2001

Guardian Unlimited | Archive Search One's brain is powerfully activated by learning that there are only 30,000 genes in the human genome. That is only twice as many as in the fruit fly, not renowned for its calculating ability, and about as many as a garden weed. Geneticists are sorely vexed that so few genes are required to make something as complex and clever as a geneticist.

posted by John Coxon 5:10 AM

Thursday, March 15, 2001

New Statesman - Book Reviews As Philip Larkin said, they fuck you up, your mum and dad.

posted by John Coxon 5:31 AM

New Statesman - Book Reviews As Philip Larkin said, they fuck you up, your mum and dad.

posted by John Coxon 5:31 AM

Sunday, March 11, 2001

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson Meta Opinion
I'm a little pissed off - it's a meta issue and I so rarely pay any attention to anything but my own little corner of the web but this case is extreme and close to home. Ya'll know of Noah Grey, right? The brain behind greymatter? Very talented human being. Very. Writer, photographer, internet pathmaker, techie - etc. I used this phrase to him in an email last night "you're my hero" and I meant it in a very real way. Notwithstanding that I have several heroes and tell those folks regularly that they are such and I don't know Noah at all personally, it's still the truth - he's my hero.


posted by John Coxon 7:26 PM

Education I have the ill-regulated memory you've heard of, which does those things which it ought not to do and leaves undone the things it ought to have done. I quoted that line without looking it up, for instance. But there's no point in cramming things in, they won't stay.

posted by John Coxon 7:09 PM

Saturday, March 10, 2001

"...old people don't see
much age in old people's faces: they see a
young woman in a wreck...

A Regular Mess
A. R. Ammons

posted by John Coxon 9:35 AM

Sunday, March 04, 2001

Backwoods & Forwards - writing and photography by Nigel Campbell But living isn't really about location, it's about digging your toes into whatever soil you find under your feet and stepping forth with as much as a spring in your step as you can muster

posted by John Coxon 9:15 AM

Backwoods & Forwards - writing and photography by Nigel Campbell But living isn't really about location, it's about digging your toes into whatever soil you find under your feet and stepping forth with as much as a spring in your step as you can muster

posted by John Coxon 9:13 AM

Backwoods & Forwards - writing and photography by Nigel Campbell But living isn't really about location, it's about digging your toes into whatever soil you find under your feet and stepping forth with as much as a spring in your step as you can muster

posted by John Coxon 9:11 AM

Sunday, January 14, 2001

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson To cure your past - you need to secure your future.

posted by John Coxon 1:46 PM

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson You can only let go of the things from your past that have no threads to your future.

posted by John Coxon 1:43 PM

Sunday, December 31, 2000

Present Attention Canadians, god bless them, are showing signs of becoming progressively more eccentric (witness the number of Canadians wearing red and white santa hats in public places this season...) and are proud of that eccentricism. The North Vancouver Indigo store has an enormous sign painted on their back wall: 'The World Needs More Canada.'

posted by John Coxon 5:22 AM

Wednesday, December 27, 2000

"When you are six, most of your Bingo balls are still floating around in the draw-tank." from a discussion of his first writing experiences.

Stephen King
On Writing, Scribner 2000, pg 28

posted by John Coxon 6:47 AM

I like writing that sounds casual, but I also like writing that rips words apart. I like echoes between languages. I like finding feelings in words, not putting feelings into words.
- Arto Lindsay

posted by John Coxon 6:44 AM "Contagious!" I came home, crawled into my messy bed, pulled the pillows close, and spent an hour thinking, ``if my throat closed up, and I suffocated, when would my body would be discovered?'' I became a likely protagonist in the classic New York story, which ends, ``then the neighbors noticed an awful smell.''

I'm not farfetching: my client work is on an open schedule; my parents don't expect me to return phone calls; my neighbor is away until mid-January; my girlfriend stopped calling back weeks ago; and in general, my friends have known me to be distant, nonresponsive, and inaccessible for long stretches, especially during the holidays. If I vanished from public intercourse - phone, email, visiting - people would assume I wanted ``space,'' not that I was rigid on the floor, mouth open, rats chewing into my eyeballs to get to my rich, fatty brain.

posted by John Coxon 6:42 AM

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson They all think I'm nuts.

It's part of the lore, I suppose. Which builds of it's own accord. Nigel and I laughed - discussing the non-awkward answer to the question "what is your book about?". We said I should say "Insurance Companies" and walk away.

How do you say "I take pictures and every picture has a story and I try and tell those, too" without sounding like a ... pompous nut?

posted by John Coxon 6:19 AM

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson One man's junk ... is another woman's photograph.

posted by John Coxon 5:49 AM

Sunday, December 24, 2000

Living Art - Photography and Stories By Catherine Jamieson The trick is not to forget, but to remember safely.

Oh no, I know I cannot walk on the old pathways - use the old patterns to cut new dresses - but I must not forget them, or the experiences that gave rise to them. I am what I am, with the views I have, with the desires and skills and talents that I may possess, because of what I have been. I know what I know because I have lived what I have lived. To?have any sort of wisdom without paying for the acquisition of it is not possible.

posted by John Coxon 2:12 PM

This is a beautiful site - by a remarkable woman. Explore it in depth, take the time.

Living Art - Photography By Catherine Jamieson A life, I believe - lived well and openly - with a certain sort of careful attention to form and function - creates art - or, at the very least, inspires it. I believe that art is contained in the ordinary events, that the small things we see and hear and learn everyday provide opportunities to explore parts of ourselves or our society in a way that can actually produce art.

Whether it is a story you leave behind or one you take with you, I believe that any given situation is rich with opportunities to participate in the creation of something useful that can also be artful.

posted by John Coxon 8:14 AM "Professional Driver, Closed Course" Two. An old man walks around his neighborhood in a small city, and sees 20-25 year old women wearing the clothes of his dead wife. He thinks he's hallucinating. He talks to one of the young women; they have a polite discussion. He pulls a picture of his wife from his wallet and the girl says, 'she's very beautiful.' The young women bought the dead woman's clothes, 60s and 70s vintage and well-maintained, at the Salvation Army next to her office. The old man had brought the clothes there, piled in boxes in the back seat of a station wagon, a few months after his wife's funeral.

posted by John Coxon 8:02 AM

About the Log -- David Chess "The Curvature of the Earth is Overwhelmed by Local Noise"

posted by John Coxon 7:35 AM

Thursday, December 21, 2000


A novel, by Daniel Quinn
pg9, Bantam pb edition 1995

posted by John Coxon 6:50 AM

PB110115.JPG 1280x960 pixels

There. try that. (a caution to those with a slow machine, its a big file and may take a couple minutes to load).

posted by John Coxon 6:35 AM

well that little test didn't work - the link is to the pic on my Mac. Duh!

posted by John Coxon 6:21 AM

PB110115.JPG 1280x960 pixels

posted by John Coxon 6:18 AM

Weblogs.Com : What Are Weblogs? Weblogs are often-updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments, and to on-site articles.
A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide who you get to know. There are many guides to choose from, each develops an audience, and there's also comraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs, they point to each other, in all kinds of structures, graphs, loops, etc.

posted by John Coxon 5:52 AM

Sunday, December 17, 2000

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Articles - TIFAQ How Can Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Be Prevented?

Companies are now taking action to help prevent repetitive stress injuries. In a major survey, 84% reported that they were modifying equipment, tasks, and process; 83% were analyzing their workstations and jobs, and 79% were buying new equipment.

No single mode of prevention exists for carpal tunnel syndrome. It is important, however, to use common sense and ergonomic controls to help minimize risk factors predisposing to work-related CTS or other cumulative trauma disorders. A patient can learn how to adjust the work area, handle tools, or perform tasks in ways that put less stress on the hands and wrists. Exercise programs to strengthen the fingers, hands, wrists, forearms, shoulders, and neck may help prevent CTS. It should be stressed, however, that there has been no evidence that any of these methods can provide complete protection against carpal tunnel syndrome. If the underlying cause is a medical condition, controlling the problem can prevent CTS.

Ergonomic Controls.
Ergonomics is the study and control of posture, stresses, motions, and other physical forces on the human body engaged in work. Altering the way a person performs repetitive activities may help prevent inflammation in the hand and wrist from progressing into full-blown carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, replacing old tools with ergonomically designed new ones can be very helpful.

Repetition and Rest. Anyone who does repetitive tasks should begin with a short warm-up period, take frequent break periods, and avoid overexertion of the hand and finger muscles whenever possible. Employers should be urged to vary tasks and work content.

Posture. Good posture is extremely important in preventing carpal tunnel syndrome, particularly for typists
and computer users. A keyboard operator should sit with the spine against the back of the chair with the shoulders relaxed, the elbows along the sides of the body, and wrists straight. The feet should be firmly on the floor or on a footrest. Typing materials should be at eye level so that the neck does not bend over the work. Keeping the neck flexible and head upright maintains circulation and nerve function to the arms and hands. Poorly designed office furniture is a major contributor to bad posture. Chairs should be adjustable for height, with a supportive backrest. Employers should be advised that the higher cost of a custom designed chair for a worker whose body does not fit a standard chair is still far less than the medical or absentee costs of an injured employee.

Force. The force placed on the fingers, hands, and wrists by a repetitive task contributes importantly to CTS. To alleviate the effect of force on the wrist, tools and tasks should be designed so that the wrist position is the same as it would be if the arms dangled in a relaxed manner at the sides. No task should require the wrist to deviate from side to side or to remain flexed or highly extended for long periods.

Keyboard operators should adjust the tension of the keys so that depressing the keyboard does not cause fatigue. The hands and wrists should remain in a relaxed position to avoid excessive force on the keyboard. For computer users, replacing the mouse with a trackball device and the standard keyboard with a jointed-type are helpful substitutions. Wrist rests, which fit under most keyboards, can help keep the wrists and fingers in a comfortable position.

The handles of such tools as screwdrivers, scrapers, paint brushes, and buffers should be designed so that the force of the worker's grip is distributed across the muscle between the base of the thumb and the little fingernot just in the center of the palm. People who need to hold any objectssuch as a pencil, steering wheel, or toolsfor long periods of time should grip them as loosely as possible.

In order to apply force appropriately, the ability to feel an object is extremely important. Tools with textured handles are helpful. Working at low temperatures, which reduces sensation in hands and fingers, should be avoided if possible.
Vibration. Tools and machines should be designed to minimize vibrations. Protective equipment, such as shock absorbers, can reduce vibrations. Bicyclists who ride frequently on rough roads should wear thick cycling gloves to lessen the shock transmitted to the hands and wrists.

Hand and wrist exercises may help reduce the risk of developing CTS. Isometric and stretching exercises can strengthen the muscles in the wrists and hands, as well as the neck and shoulders, improving blood flow to these areas. Performing the following simple exercises for four to five minutes every hour may be helpful.

Wrists. Make a loose right fist, palm up, and use the left hand to press gently down against the clenched hand. Resist the force with the closed right hand for five seconds, but be sure to keep the wrist straight. Next, turn the right fist palm down and press against the knuckles with the left hand for five seconds. Finally, turn the right palm so the thumb-side of the fist is up and press down again for five seconds. Repeat with the left hand.

Another easy wrist exercise requires first holding one hand straight up next to the shoulder with fingers together and palm facing outward. (The position looks like a shoulder-high salute); next, with the other hand, bend the hand being exercised backward with the fingers still held together and hold for five seconds; and third, spread the fingers and thumb open while the hand is still bent back and hold for five seconds. Repeat five times for each hand.

A third simple exercise is called wrist circles. First hold the second and third fingers up and close the others. Draw five clockwise circles in the air with the two fingertips. Draw five more counterclockwise circles. Repeat with the other hand.

Fingers and Hand. The first exercise is the finger bend and stretch. Clench the fingers of one hand into a fist tightly, and then release, fanning out the fingers. Do this five times. Repeat with the other hand.

To exercise the thumb, bend it against the palm beneath the little finger and hold for five seconds. Spread the fingers apart, palm up, and hold for five seconds. This should be repeated five to 10 times with each hand. Then, gently pull the thumb out and back and holding for five seconds, repeating five to 10 times with each hand.

Forearms. Excessive use of the hands can cause the forearm muscles to tighten, increasing pressure on tendons as they pass through the wrist. Stretching these muscles will reduce this tension. Place the hands together in front of the chest, fingers pointed upward in a prayer-like position. Keeping the palms flat together, raise the elbows to stretch the forearm muscles. Stretch for 10 seconds. Then gently shake the hands limp for a few seconds to loosen them. Repeat frequently when the hands or arms tire from activity.

Neck and Shoulders. Sit upright and place the right hand on top of the left shoulder. Hold that shoulder down and slowly tip the head down toward the right. Keep the face pointed forward, or even turned slightly toward the right. Hold this stretch gently for five seconds. Repeat on the other side.

A second exercise requires standing in a relaxed position with the arms at the side. Shrug the shoulders up, then squeeze the shoulders back, then stretch the shoulders down, and then press them forward. The entire exercise should take about seven seconds.

posted by John Coxon 6:58 PM

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Articles - TIFAQ Some experts believe that incorrect posture may play a large role in the development of CTS, particularly in people who work at computer and other types of keyboards. The tendency to roll the shoulders forward, round the lower back, and thrust the chin forward can shorten the neck and shoulder muscles, compressing nerves in the neck. This, in turn, can affect the wrist, fingers, and hand. It has been difficult, however, to obtain reliable data on the direct link between repetitive hand and wrist tasks and carpal tunnel syndrome.

posted by John Coxon 6:28 PM

Saturday, December 16, 2000

Eat Wild

posted by John Coxon 8:11 AM

Prevention -- 9 top healing foods, nature's best medicine

posted by John Coxon 8:09 AM

Sunday, December 10, 2000

The San Francisco Mountain lies in northern Arizona, above Flagstaff, and its blue slopes and snowy summit entice the eye for a hundred miles across the desert. About its base lie the pine forests of the Navajos, where the great red-trunked trees live out their peaceful centuries in that sparkling air. The pińons and scrub begin only where the forest ends, where the country breaks into open, stony clearings and the surface of the earth cracks into deep cańons. The great pines stand at a considerable distance from each other. Each tree grows alone, murmurs alone, thinks alone. They do not intrude on each other. ...

The Song of the Lark
Willa Cather
p265, Houghton Mifflin Co paperback edition 1987

posted by John Coxon 5:38 PM

No indeed, the world is just as concrete, ornery, vile and sublimely wonderful as before, only now I better understand my relation to it and it to me. I lived a public life and attempted to function under the assumption that the world was solid and all the relationships therein. Now I know men are different and that all life is divided and that only in division is there true health. Hence again I have stayed in my hole, because up abovethere's an increasing passion to make men conform to a pattern.

......Whence all this passion toward conformity anyway? - diversity is the word. Let man keep his many parts and you'll have no tyrant states. Why, if they follow this conformity business they'll end up by forcing me, an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but the lack of one. Must I strive toward colorlessness? But seriously, and without snobbery, think of what the world would lose if that were to happen. .....Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.

Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man

posted by John Coxon 3:45 PM

What a deale of cold busines doth a man mis-spend the better part of life in! in scattering complements, tendring visits, gathering and venting newes, following Feasts and Playes, making a little winter-love in a darke corner.

Don't know the source - possibly Ben Jonson

posted by John Coxon 3:38 PM