1. I urge everyone who may come across this blog to go to the Discovery Channel's web site and register your disgust that they have refused to air the documentary Taxi to the Darkside, which recounts the murder of an innocent Afghani taxi driver in the custody of the U.S. Army.
This is the same outfit that has the Military Channel, which glorifies all things deadly.
2. To get another perspective on just what war/violence costs, go to this latest (Feb 17) dispatch on Tom Engelhardt's page about what's been happening to the women and children of Sierra Leone, Liberia & Cote d'Ivoire -- all countries suspiciously absent from Bush's African itinerary.
[Erratum: I was slightly off in Monsieur Bush's travel agenda - he did go to Liberia, afterall.]
3. And, while I'm thinking about it -- please make Bill Moyer's Journal's homepage one of your favorites, and make a point of watching it on your local PBS station (or get them to carry it, if they don't).
4. Book Recommendations (from the last 6 months or so of my reading schedule):
- Cultural Amnesia, Clive James. The book is a series of essays about various people James considers important. Not all of the essays were interesting to me, but I did learn things about people I hadn't known before and James introduced me to several interesting figures that my education had neglected.
- The Blood Knight, Gregory Keyes. Book three in his Kingdoms of Bone and Thorn series.
- Reapers' Gale, Steven Erikson. Book seven in his Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I cannot praise this author enough. He's reminiscent of Glen Cook's Black Company and Dread Empire series, but he's a better writer (though it pains me, somewhat to say that since Croaker of the Black Company is my all-time favorite fantasy character; Signy Mallory of CJ Cherryh's Downbelow Station is my SF fave).
- Legacy of Ashes, Tim Weiner. The sad, sad history of the CIA and its "successes."
- Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn.
- Soon I Will Be Invincible, Austin Grossman. A novel in the tradition of The Watchmen but less grim.
- House of War, James Carroll. The sad, sad history of the Pentagon and the erosion of America's democracy.
- Kushiel's Justice, Jacqueline Carey. The second book in her second series set in the alternate Earth of Terre d'Ange. I was disappointed in Carey's second foray into fantasy (Banewreaker, Godslayer); they're decent enough novels but they didn't grab me the way Terre d'Ange has.
- Takeover, Charlie Savage. Another in those sad, sad chronicles of American decline.
- Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi, and Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi. Two incredible chronicles of life in a theocratic dictatorship. On the one hand, they were windows into a world that would be utterly alien to most Americans; on the other hand, they showed just how much every human being has in common with their fellows.
- The Basic 8, Daniel Handler. This is Handler's first novel (as Handler, he's also the guy who writes the Lemony Snicket books) and his best in my opinion (though the others, Shut Your Mouth and Adverbs are pretty good, too). I identified a lot with the main character Flannery Culp.
- Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon. I chose to read this one because it dealt with my favorite, unknown medieval kingdom -- Khazaria -- not because I'm a fan of Chabon. I still have no great desire to read Chabon but I did enjoy this novel, reminiscent of Fritz Leiber's Fahfrd & the Grey Mouser (in fact, it prompted me to reread Leiber).
I just finished Barbara Mertz's popular history of Egypt, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs. It was written a little too "folksy" for my taste but it gives the reader a taste of just how fascinating history is, and it's sobering in just how little we really know about what's gone on in our pasts. Right now, I'm in the middle of Orville Burton's The Age of Lincoln. I was hoping the author would spend more time on the 1840s and '50s because that's a period of U.S. history I'm woefully unfamiliar with. What he did cover, was interesting because it showed that America has never been "united" in the sense the Republicans (and many Dems) would want us to believe. It was only after the Civil War, in fact, that our modern concept of the federal government and its relationship to the states emerged (for better or for worse).