Singing the Bite Me Song


August 06, 2005

An eye-opening story from Iraq...

Khalid is the brother of Raed: ("Dear Raed", known in the U.S. as the "Baghdad Blogger" from earlier in the war)

Link: Tell Me a Secret: I found myself....

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I found myself...

Sleeping in a grave-size space, defined by two walls touching both my head my and feet, and surrounded with human bodies touching me from both sides, in a way that hardly leaves any chance to move at all during the long… long night, in a 12 square meters room stuffed with 35 people trying to sleep, and to hold themselves together in order not to fight…

The whole thing started when I went to the university to pay my tuition fees, the thing is that the engineering campus is separated from the rest of the university with few kilometers, but for such administrative issues, students should go to the headquarter, and this is what I did. I entered the main campus and went to the financial department to pay money. I started the paperwork process, and then reached to a point where we needed the director’s signature to finish the paperwork, but she was in a meeting. So, the employee asked me to go and waste an hour inside the campus till the meeting is over, and I did.

What would you do in such a case? Go to the café? I tried, but was totally bored after less than 15 minutes, and then I don’t remember how an idea flashed in my head like a big light bulb: internet!
Of course, what is better than the internet to kill time?

I remembered there was an internet café inside the campus. I rarely came to this campus during the last five years. I think I came like three or four times only. Anyways, so I went to the internet café and did my regular tour: raed in the middle, riverbend, etc etc..and then I was bored again. I left the internet café heading towards the financial department again.

In my way, I was stopped by an old man, with a hateful face. “tfa`6al” he said (it means something like: “how can I help you?”) I was a bit surprised, I said “inta tfa`6al!” (meaning: “how can I help you?”) he said: where are you going? So I knew that he must be some kind of a security guy. I should have guessed from his tone, he sounds like a typical saddam-style security-man.
“to the financial department, to pay my tuition money” I said.

“where were you right now?”

“ in the internet café !”

“where is your ID?”

“at the campus entrance reception, with my mobile phone” (this is common now, in all governmental buildings you have to leave your mobile phone in the reception, you cant take it with you).

Please people; don’t be surprised because of all these questions. It used to be very common in “Saddam’s Iraq” and it’s very common in today’s Iraq.

Anyway, the old hateful man decided to escort me to make sure I was telling him the truth. Once we entered the financial office, the employees there talked to me spontaneously, so he knew I was there before and he left. I paid the money, took the receipt, and left. When I went back the campus entrance reception to take my mobile and leave, I found out that the mobiles’ closet was “mistakenly locked” as I was told. They were waiting for the guy that has the key. “He’ll be here in any moment” I was told.

I sat there waiting for my mobile phone to be freed. Then suddenly, after few minutes, someone came and asked “where is the detained guy?”

The other security guard pointed at me!!!

I was like: ehhhhh..sorry there is misunderstanding here, I am not detained, its only that the mobile phones closet is mistakenly locked!

“come with us, we have some questions please” they said, and I went with them, searching for answers inside my head…


Go read the rest here. It's long and detailed, but also absorbing and downright Kafkaesque.

August 6, 2005 at 09:01 PM in Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

congratulating ms vivian darkbloom on her new identity...

Isn't blogland wonderful? Change identities like trying on a new pair of pants! Sorry I was so late catching on.


Link: adventures in navel-gazing: the taking of darkbloom, one two three, or, who am I this time?.

the taking of darkbloom, one two three, or, who am I this time?

So I created this blog thing.

Not surprisingly, some Nabokov-loving soul had already snagged "vivian darkbloom" as a user name. "darkbloom" was taken too. Quelle disappointment. Well, for all of five minutes, actually.

While I tried to think of some other vaguely fashionable, literary-wanker nom de plume, I realized something: I was tired of being vivian darkbloom. Well, that's all fine and good. As someone once said, "change is as good as a haircut." (Er, it may have been the other way around, I fear; but wait, does that make sense? "A haircut is as good as change"? Why not just, "A haircut is a good change"? Can we just forget I said all that? Too lazy to delete.)

This blog is about turning over a new leaf, about taking my writing in a different direction--or trying to at the very least. So it makes sense I would craft another "identity" of sorts to celebrate that, to mark the occasion, as inauspicious as it may be.

So I draw inspiration from Lolita again. There's Quilty, Clare Quilty to be precise, the nymphet-loving writer in the book, Humbert's quarry. Darker than Darkbloom, crueler than Humbert, more powerful than a Charlotte Haze leaping into a suburban street. (And played memorably by Peter Sellars in the movie; every time I go back to read the book now, I see Sellars as Quilty.)

It's not that I love Quilty as a character; but his unregenerate bastardness is appealing. You have to be bold to be a Quilty. And I imagine you'd have to be even bolder and stronger to be a Madame Quilty. Because I mean, really, who would marry such an asshole?

Oh. Right.

you go girl! I'm staying tuned.

June 14, 2005 at 09:31 PM in Cyberculture, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Singing the Bite Me Song, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2005

If the filibuster goes, will it be death of the Roman Republic?

I was just watching the exchange on CBS's "Face the Nation" this morning. Bob Scheiffer usually tells it straight and I look forward to his wry sensibility every Sunday, but it seems today he was downplaying the seriousness of what seems to be happening in the Senate by casting it strictly as a political issue instead of looking at it through the lens of history.

I believe the historical ramifications are exactly what the Republicans have in mind, and they are just using politics of the day to push it through, to change the tradition of the Senate to act as a check and balance on other branches of government just as the founders intended, and to protect minority positions in a way the House of Representatives never would be able to.

In short, I don't believe the GOP would be threatening this kind of "scorched earth" tactic, the "nuclear" option, if they had any DOUBT that the Republican Party WILL NOT EVER be out of power again in the U.S. If the party in power ever changes hands again, the GOP would have deliberately screwed themselves royally.

Do they know something we don't? Is the fix in?

I know people who truly believe there will never be another free election in the U.S. (presuming that the last election was actually "free").

What boggles the mind is that they would fundamentally restructure the government FOR TEN JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS. 10. Out of several hundred approved. Is there any kind of proportionality to these actions?

That is what tells me this has NOTHING to do with those nominees. They are merely an excuse to heap power on an unchecked executive branch.

And there is an important historical correlary that we all should have in the forefront of our minds before the political considerations: look at what happened with the Senate in Roman Republic when the head of state was given unchecked power. The Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, and for those who don't get this part, THAT WAS NOT A GOOD THING.

There were people at that time willing to fight and die to keep Rome a republic, it was that important. Where are those people now?

For the many times President Bush utters the words "freedom" and "democracy" in his talking points speeches that never say anything, he has done more to undermine any idea of "democracy" and "freedom" than any other president in the history of the United States.

Hell, even ABC's "This Week" is taking on checks and balances today as well, and Stephanopoulis has been practicing his GOP goosestepping these days or his general smarminess makes it look that way sometimes. The Republicans are taking on the overthrow of BOTH the legislative and judicial branches, to hand unchecked power directly to the executive branch, something that hasn't been done in the history of overwrought legislative wrangling in the U.S.

I think this is a mad power grab, pure and simple. This is the moment of the shift from republic to empire.

Yes, I know the U.S is technically already an empire, as was Rome even when it was a republic.

The difference was apparent to anyone who lived in that time. Look at the difference between the writings of Cicero and Quintillian. Cicero was a great speaker and leader because Rome did have an actual tradition of speaking and writing having an influence on policy. Quintillian was a great teacher, but the subject he taught, rhetoric, to argue persuasively and have an influence, was toothless by then. Words and ideas had no power in Rome by Quintillian's day because the Empire and the Caesars were by then unchecked by anything resembling democracy.

And there's no Brutus in sight. The fact that I even bring that subject up probably puts me on some kind of a "watch list."

Would you believe I was actually afraid to write that sentence, and I erased it several times?

That is the most revealing thing about the status of dissent in this Roman Empire. I'm forcing myself to leave that sentence in, a factual reference to Roman history, in spite of my active fear.

The truth is, no matter how hard I try to be bold, I have begun to fear my own attachment to freedom of speech, to the Bill of Rights in the constitution. I'm afraid these days of even speaking out. Wow. I NEVER thought I'd see the day where would say that and mean it. Will my very thoughts and my inability to "govern" my speech based on those thoughts be my downfall? Will they be yours?


April 10, 2005 at 11:16 AM in Best Essays, Current Affairs, Democracy, Favorite Links, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, Writing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack