Mamae e Bebe

Brazilian shampoo is the best. Our Brazilian friend Lucia gave us this shampoo and conditioner for our birthday, and I’ve saved it until this week. Now I don’t ever want to run out! I spent yesterday whipping my hair around just so I could get whiffs of its earthy-salonish scent. Mmm. Okay, enough of this commercial break.

Today I’m off to volunteer at the Boston Gift Show and then to see West Side Story at B.U. tonight. Homework will have to wait. I’m very excited about going inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It just feels magnanimous.

Zbigniew Brzezinski on the War on Terror

Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser Brzezinski criticized the Bush administration’s rhetoric, specifically the phrase “war on terror,” in yesterday’s Washington Post. I received the text of the article from my prof, and I didn’t want to register for the Post, so I’m not linking the article. But here are some choice passages:

“The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare — political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants. But the little secret here may be that the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated by its sponsors. Constant reference to a ‘war on terror’ did accomplish one major objective: It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear.”

“The events of 9/11 could have resulted in a truly global solidarity against extremism and terrorism. A global alliance of moderates, including Muslim ones, engaged in a deliberate campaign both to extirpate the specific terrorist networks and to terminate the political conflicts that spawn terrorism would have been more productive than a demagogically proclaimed and largely solitary U.S. ‘war on terror’ against ‘Islamo-fascism.’ Only a confidently determined and reasonable America can promote genuine international security which then leaves no political space for terrorism.

Where is the U.S. leader ready to say, ‘Enough of this hysteria, stop this paranoia’? Even in the face of future terrorist attacks, the likelihood of which cannot be denied, let us show some sense. Let us be true to our traditions.”

It seems the “global solidarity against extremism and terrorism” started to work well in Afghanistan but then fell apart once we got involved in Iraq.

Terminating the “political conflicts that spawn terrorism” is easier said than done. But he makes a good point elsewhere about how the media and entertainment industry reinforce this manufactured idea. Perhaps it’s the job of the media, as well as Congress and other political leaders, to reduce the effects of this fear and change policies.

One thing is clear: in addition to figuring out the mess in Iraq, we have to refocus our efforts on peace between Israel and Palestine. It is probably the first step towards undermining and decreasing terrorist motives.

Tastes like freedom

Mmmm. We finally got our hands on some Ben and Jerry’s Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream ice cream yesterday, and it’s everything I expected. You can’t go wrong with waffle chunks. This now ranks among my favorite ice creams, and I feel doubly satisfied since by purchasing it I’m also contributing to environmentally sound cow-raising and supporting some disadvantaged children somewhere (who knew that Colbert was one for charity?).

Does anyone know who still uses the terms “freezer case” and “refrigerator case” besides Colbert? I mean, wasn’t that so two centuries ago? Or are they regional idioms?

I am dealing with painful stiffness in my upper back today, which is no fun when I have two tests to study for and three papers to begin. I’ve made ample use of the acetaminophen and an electric masseuse, to no avail. Still, I’m studying enough to make time for the Final Four tonight and the Cardinals home opener tomorrow night. Can’t believe it’s baseball season already! Heidi saw a game showing on TV the other day, and her heart literally leapt. The boys of summer make us happy, if only because it means summer is just around the corner.

In which my good mood is held hostage

Does anyone else think the newly released British (male) sailor hostages are, um…pretty cute? And they’re all dressed like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad! Go figure!

Why does everyone keep blocking youtube? First Turkey, now Thailand. Oh, perhaps I’m being culturally insensitive.

Well, I’m in a cynical mood because today’s been a horrible day. Except for a bright light in the middle that was my Transnational Shi’ism class, I had to take a test at 9 this morning and another at 6:30 this evening. And I’m sick, with a horrid cough and a stomachache. Plus, it snowed. And it was wet. I’m too consumed with schoolwork right now to care about the weather, but there’s no arguing that the weather subliminally affects my mood. So here I am, disgruntled about the weather and angry that my prof asked about one of the FEW concepts with which I wasn’t familiar and I proceeded to BS the answer, but I’m about to eat one of Heidi’s brownies. And it’s Holy Week! There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Two interesting articles

From Newsweek: Why TV is better than movies.

This is a position I’ve advocated for about a year, but when I decided to take the quiz they offer on the website, I was suddenly forced to choose between Little Miss Sunshine and The Office, and then between The Departed and The Sopranos. Hmm. Such choices confuse my firmly held opinions. On the other hand, perhaps they prove how TV has “caught up” with the Silver Screen and is now at least on equal footing. At any rate, one glance at our Netflix queue proves where our preferences lie (even our most recent entertainment, Bleak House, was a BBC TV series).

On a more serious note, an article from Time about the abortion debate in Asheville.

Starting on page 7, the writer interviews Jeff Hutchinson, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Churchin Asheville, where several of my relatives attend. I’ve talked to Jeff many times and was thrilled to read his satisfying comments in this article. It is refreshing to see reasonable, even-handed, caring Christians get national publicity on this issue, instead of so-called Culture-War Christians, of whom Jeff makes the comment: “‘Culture-War Christians… have no interest in finding common ground. Their constituencies don’t like it; they won’t send in any more money.’ But that doesn’t mean the conversation about all these issues of mind and heart and body are fated to be reduced to a fund-raising tool or political weapon. ‘The good news is that the Culture-War Christian can actually change because God is alive and can change the heart…I know it. Because I was a Culture-War Christian once myself.'” (Also, it’s totally cool that the Asheville CPC and Planned Parenthood meet at the Blue Moon Bakery to discuss these issues.)

Headaches

Just in time for mid-terms, my head attacks. Am I dehydrated? Is it tension? Stress? Do I have migraines? Do I have a brain tumor? Am I permanently congested? Today I waited for Heidi in Copley Square and cleared my head in the deceptively warm air. We took the T to Sondereggers for a small group Brazilian dinner, and my headache vanished. Perhaps spring break will prove a worthy remedy, but until then, I must slog through T.E. Lawrence’s guerrilla tactics and the intellectual foundations of the Islamic State whether my head appreciates it or not.

Heidi and I found today that we’re officially going to London this summer, woohoo! We’ll take classes from stodgy British professors and maybe do internships at Wimbledon, who knows? Trips to Brussels and Ireland are in order, and perhaps a return to WEC International at Bulstrode manor, where we spent some of our days of yore after highschool. Jaunts along the English countryside and weekly attendance at All Souls might also be on the docket.

Neon Bible: Flannery O’Connor set to music

Just purchased Arcade Fire‘s new album “Neon Bible” off iTunes, despite limited funds. I chose wisely. Inexplicably, this album rendered me wistful for an evening on the porch of a beachhouse. Perhaps it’s the Hungarian orchestra or the military choir, both which make an appearance (or, should I say an “audio-ence”?), somehow reminiscent of the wind whipping off the waves and swirling sand around in my face, or the nocturnal call of sea creatures.

Doesn’t the title sound like an image Flannery O’Connor would have chosen? Turns out someone else already used it: John Kennedy Toole and his first novel, for which the album was named. All the same, the eccentric undertones of the organ and religion-infused chants like “you know I’m a God-fearin’ man” and song titles like “Antichrist Television Blues” recall Flannery’s dark Southern small-town religious milieu. But that’s all I will say on first listen, because I’m sure I’m reading far too much into it.

On a colder note, today the windchill dipped to -30 and won’t let up much until this weekend. I can deal with fierce cold. Fierce wind alone doesn’t affect me much. But both at the same time? Global climate change, what hast thou wrought?

Shenanigans

I love to sit next to the sunny window as I did this afternoon, reading for school, listening to the sirens and subway, church bells playing “Abide With Me” and “Ave Maria,” drinking chai to warm my bones.

Gilbert Blythe is in the 2nd season of Slings and Arrows! I’ve seen about three Canadian productions in my life, and he’s in two of them! What a strange experience to see his reddish hair and hear his aged voice (not old, just older). Where have all those years gone? He belongs in the Mark Hamill/Seinfeld characters category; no other role shall suit them.

I read on my grande Starbucks coffee cup yesterday a quotation from a musician whose name escapes me. A paraphrase: the most important thing I’ve learned in my career is to not let anyone intimidate me, because everyone’s experienced pain, loneliness, and weakness at some point. As someone who is not very smart nor well-equipped in many areas of life, I’ve had to embrace this mindset wholeheartedly. If I look a fool to someone who should intimidate me, then I look a fool. Most of the time I avoid people anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

Last week I helped a fellow disabled student read her homework, and I’ll repeat the task this week. I enjoyed it because it felt like bedtime storytelling, only the content was more sophisticated and my subject highlighted important points as she read along.

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