Friday, September 29, 2006

Iva Toguri, rest in peace

In Chicago, on Belmont, west of Clark Street, is Toguri Imports. This specialty store stocks a variety of Japanese goods, from Oragami paper to food, from Kimonos to inks and ink stones. I began shopping there in the 1980s while I was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and recall meeting Iva Toguri every time I entered the shop.

Iva was a short, grey haired woman. She was pleasant, but a little impatient with people who browsed without spending money. She helped me buy my ink stone, and ink block, helped me with my brushes, and the right paper. She assisted me with all kinds of papers, and told me to go down the street to Iko for the really exquisite Japanese papers.

Iva was also known as Tokyo Rose. She was born in Los Angeles on July 4; she was a graduate of UCLA; and she was a victim of the racism and circumstances that blackened America after Dec. 7, 1941. On the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Iva was in Japan visiting; she was stranded there, and forced by the Japanese to spew propoganda on a radio show. Iva was one of many Japanese American women used in this manner; all these women were collectively known as Tokyo Rose by the US Servicemen who listened to the broadcasts.

Convicted of treason in 1948, Iva spent 6 years in prison. Gerald Ford pardoned her in 1977. Iva died Tuesday in Chicago at the ripe old age of 90. Here is the obit in the New York Times. May she rest in peace.

Friday Grandbaby blogging


Playing golf in the living room.

Laughing at her own joke.

Photos don't convey the sweetness of her voice, or her energy. She's independent. She's kind. She loves her doggie. She loves her mommy. She loves gramma. She's always talking in her own special language, although doggie, kitty, again are all quite clear. Today she said birdy. And she sang "I'm a little teapot" - right tune, jargon words.

I'm going to be a mess when I fly back to LA next week.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quote of the day

"There are four enemies of human rights: oil, gas, the war on terror and geopolitical considerations. And we have all four."

YEVGENY A. ZHOVTIS, a human rights advocate in Kazakhstan.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Evil has a new name: Paula Froelich

Hat tip to The Fat Lady Sings for calling attention to this insane rant.

Yesterday, Keith Olbermann got a suspicious piece of mail which contained some white powdery substance and a piece of hate mail. Like any normal American, he was alarmed and called 911. Although the substance was found to not be toxic, Mr. Olbermann did what any normal American would do, and he went to the emergency room to be checked out. It's what I would have done.

Nevertheless, read what Paula Froelich of the New York Post writes:

September 27, 2006 -- MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter with a California postmark and a batch of white powder poured out. A note inside warned Olbermann, who's a frequent critic of President Bush's policies, that it was payback for some of his on-air shtick. The caustic commentator panicked and frantically called 911 at about 12:30 a.m., sources told The Post's Philip Messing. An NYPD HazMat unit rushed to Olbermann's pad on Central Park South, but preliminary tests indicated the substance was harmless soap powder. However, that wasn't enough to satisfy Olbermann, who insisted on a checkup. He asked to be taken to St. Luke's Hospital, where doctors looked him over and sent him home. Whether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn't known. Olbermann had no comment.

Imagine if Maureen Dowd had written a similar piece about Ann Coulter? The entire right wing press would demand her immediate resignation. They would demand that she be run out of town. Instead, because an intelligent, thoughtful commentator who disagrees with Bush's policies, has become the target of an attack by a right wing nutcase, Ms. Froelich applauds the action by belittling Olbermann's reaction. Had the substance been anthrax, or ricin, she probably would lead the parade dancing on his grave.

What has happened to our nation? Seriously, when did it become alright to wish harm or illness on those who disagree with the right wing? With her disdain for the seriousness of the letter, she paints a target on Olbermann's back. It is the modern equivalent of cross-burning in the age of chemical terrorism.

I am appalled. I've written her a letter, and urge all of you to do the same.

My priorities this week

Laughing at baby jokes.

Sliding down slides.

Oreo cookies and milk.

Monday, September 25, 2006

quote of the day

"I just follow my own common sense. And to hell with the law." So says Justice Thomas R. Buckley. You know, the phone company repairman from Dannemora, NY, who has spent 13 years on the bench, intimidating neighbors while he passes out his brand of justice.

Only in America, I'm just saying.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Rosh Hashona Message

One of the prayers: Nations shall not lift up swords against nations, neither shall they know war anymore.

We read that yesterday. And then we listened to the Israeli Counsel General who was worshipping at the Synagogue my daughter belongs to, where I used to belong. We talked about the dysfunction of family, and then we thought about the broader sense of family. And it comes down to this:

Nations shall not lift up swords against nations,
Neither shall they know war anymore.

I ask for peace.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday with Grandbaby

My daughter and Ellie met me at the airport on Thursday, and Ellie looked at me, pointed and smiled. "Doggie" she said. Everything is doggie. She's got a great laugh now, and she laughs at everything. She climbs on everything. She is fearless. Except for that thing they call "turkey" in the "Li'l Meals" - she's afraid of that. These are older photos that live on my daughter's computer; my photos will wait til I get home Oct. 4.

She's so cool, she's so hip, she's so styling. And today after services, I taught her to make a sound while she fingers her lips -- "brbbrbbrbbrbb" -- which she thinks is the funniest thing in the world. I adore her.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lipgloss is evil

So I packed, got to the airport in plenty of time yesterday, got to security with no huge lines, and suddenly, by purse is stopped in the machine. Three TSA people are looking at the image. I get called aside. "Ma'am, is this your bag?" Well, of course it is. It is a fashionable shade of burnt sienna, perfect for a traveling Diva. I say "Yes." "Ma'am, I am going to have to open it. Do not touch it." He pulls out my NARS lipgloss, shade called Foul Play. He says "This is a banned substance. It is a liquid." I think, shit. It's my favorite color, I forgot it was in there, can I talk my way out of this? "But it's only lip gloss!" and I quickly put some on to prove it wasn't dangerous. Mr. TSA Man wasn't swayed. He took it, and immediately gave it to one of the women working -- yes, I was pissed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Declare Peace

Go HERE to Code Pink, sign the Declaration of Peace, and take part in a nonviolent action against the illegal and immoral war in Iraq.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Australia photos

koala with joey

same koala

The 12 Apostles

I was on a helicopter here

Sunset at Orpheus Island, tide going out

Seaplane getting ready to leave Orpheus Island

Diva Jood, Co-pilot without a license

Can Soybeans Save Polar Bears?

I love America. I've been lucky to travel all over this country; I've camped (in tents) from Alaska to Wyoming, and I've roughed it in luxury hotels in great cities. And we are on the edge of disaster.

We have an incredible wealth of natural resources which we've squandered, rather than cherished. We teach our children to save a symblol - money - rather than something of lasting value, our natural resources.

I also love Australia. Again, I've been lucky to travel all over Australia, camping in the remote outback, and camped out in luxury hotels. This recent trip, part vacation and part work came as Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth" was opening in Australia. If you haven't yet seen it, don't wait. Go now. Go today. See it, because our survival depends on the actions outlined in this film.

But I digress. As I said, I was in Australia for a conference. It was held in Cairns, mid-September, when the weather is traditionally dry and fine. Many of our events were scheduled to be outdoors. And guess what? Rain, hail the size of golfballs, 90 Kilometer winds drove us indoors. The wind was creepy, actually. The only thing it wasn't was hot. I'm used to Cairns being hot, hot and tropical. This was just peculiar weather.

America and Australia have so many similarities. Among them: our Native people believe in the stewardship of the land rather than ownership. Our European settlers belive in ownership, manifest destiny, and other bizarre acquisitive behavior. The late architect Mies Vanderohe said "Less is more." The truth is this: MORE is less.

But we in America and Australia demand more, and more, and more. Bigger cars. Supersized meals. Warehouse stores that erase mom & pop stores with a personal touch. A complete effacement of personality. I saw Starbucks all over Melbourne and Brisbane!

One year, during a bad financial patch, I had to take a second job. I went to the Pottery Barn, and worked there for a year. We were taught that the Pottery Barn Mission was to have every home in America look like their showroom floors.

With this level of "sameness" comes an unhealthy anonimity. Without personality, there is no need to take responsibility. There is no need to behave as a steward. There is no need to think.

The Kyoto Protocal "is an agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases, or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases." Two countries have failed to ratify this agreement: The United States of America, and Australia. George W. Bush and John Howard share an arrogant disrespect for the future of our earth that is criminal.

Arctic Sea Ice is melting at a shocking rate. I saw an article yesterday (or Sunday) that I can't find now, which says that over the last two years, the amount of arctic ice that has melted is roughly the size of Turkey. Not the bird, the country. That this ice melt has uncovered two islands. Now, this ice melt is not going to raise sea levels, because it is water ice; however the glacial ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica are an entirely different matter. If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, it would raise sea levels significantly. Egypt would be submerged. Florida would disappear. The Maldives will be underwater.

Barley is growing in Greenland for the first time since the Middle Ages. Droughts in Africa have disrupted the animal migration in the Masai Mara and Serengeti, and wildlife are dying in tremendous numbers. In Louisiana wetlands have been lost to sea-level rise. In the northwest there has been dramatic shrinkage of glaciers in Glacier National Park and the South Cascade Glacier in Washington is at its smallest size in the past 6000 years. Innuits in Alaska have had to relocate villages because of sea level rise. Hawaii is seeing coral bleaching for the first time. Venice is in danger of drowning - if you want to see St. Marks Square you better hurry. The English Country Garden will disappear. And the Amazon River - the Amazon river has been reduced to a comparative trickle. This year sand banks have already appeared in the deltas of the Amazon and fears are rising that a drought cycle that was previously measured in multiples of decades may now be an annual event. The Amazon's impact on global patterns of rainfall is only now beginning to be fully understood and scientists warned in July that this extraordinary planetary air conditioner could be malfunctioning critically.

And just as I'm thinking it doesn't pay to get out of bed, comes this ray of hope: Farmers' Hopes Sprout as Brazil Bets on Biodiesel. Biodiesel is made from plant and animal fats, blended with conventional diesel and burns cleaner and releases fewer pollutants, including carbon monoxide, than other fossil fuels. "No country has been more successful at displacing fossil fuels with green energy than Brazil. Hammered by the oil shocks of the 1970s, the nation committed itself to developing a domestic ethanol industry to reduce its dependence on imported petroleum."

Production, and use in the United States has increased, but at 75 million gallons of biodiesel produced and consumed in the US, it's nothing compared to the 140 BILLION gallons of fossil fuel we use each year.

So I ask: Can soybeans save the Polar Bears? Where does environmental change begin? What steps are you taking today to save the environment before it is too late?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Back from Australia

Two weeks is a long time. Got home on Saturday, but words were spinning and I couldn't think straight. Went to bed at 8 PM on Saturday night, slept til 12:30 Sunday afternoon - 16 1/2 hours. Last night, couldn't fall asleep for anything. This is what crossing 17 time zones does to me - I don't know if it is day or night, and yes, it was worth it.

This was my 20th trip to Australia and my first time in Melbourne. It has become my favorite city there - friendly people, great restaurants, a beautiful river in the center, lots of public art - it reminded me of my home town of Chicago in so many ways that I just fell in love with the city. Arrival day, I went for a tour of the city on the back of a Harley Davidson - I spent the first five minutes thinking I was going to die, and the next fifty-five grinning from ear to ear.

Melbourne is one of the few cities you can actually float over in a balloon. So on September 4th, before the crack of my ass, I got up and went ballooning. My balloon was the "Peace & Love" Balloon:

Later that afternoon, I went out to one of Melbourne & Victoria's major tourist attractions, Phillip Island, for the "Penguin Parade." I was with a company I book regularly, as a private tour - which turned out to be a good thing, because that was the day Steve Irwin died in the freak accident - his is one of only three recorded deaths by sting ray. Say what you might about Steve, he was a great friend to tourism, and he did a lot on the quiet to protect habitats - he lived quite modestly, and put all his resources into his zoo, and the purchase of habitat to ensure that no building or development would take place in those par4cels of land. I first met Steve in Brisbane in 1998 at a conference - he was a complete madman. His wife was pregnant out to here with their first child, Bindy, and he's handeling snakes on the rooftop of the Rydges hotel - alchohol flowing freely, about 300 travel agents, and snakes. Oh, my. We'll miss you, Steve!

Next day, long trip out to the Great Ocean Road - and a helicopter over the 12 Apostles (one fell down recently, so there's only about 9.) Blogger is limiting the number of pictures I can upload, so that will be later.

After Melbourne, flew to Brisbane to see Hugh Jackman in "The Boy from OZ" - he was brilliant, and gorgeous. At our Aussie Specialist conference, we have an awards ceremony. One of my friends always votes for Hugh as "Best Australian Product" - sigh.

Highlight was Orpheus Island, a beautiful Great Barrier Reef resort with no pretension and no "attitude". Best part? The sea plane transfer. That is so cool I can't begin to tell you. Pictures later.

I'm back. Stupid tired. Have no clue what is going on in the world - clearly Bush has not been impeached yet, but one can hope, yes?

Off to work, I hope my desk is there.

Friday, September 01, 2006