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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 10/26/2008 - 11/02/2008
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Nitwit Sarah Palin accepts fake offer to hunt baby seals

oh, my freakin' lord... as bugs bunny says, "what a moroon...!"
U.S. vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin fell prey to a Canadian prankster on Saturday when he called her impersonating French President Nicolas Sarkozy and got her to accept an invitation to hunt baby seals.

In an over-the-top French accent, a member of the Quebec comedy duo "The Masked Avengers," famous for tricking celebrities and politicians including Sarkozy himself, asked if Palin would take him on a hunting trip by helicopter, and then in French said they could also go kill baby seals.

An apparently oblivious Palin said she thought that would be fun. "We could have a lot of fun together as we're getting work done. We could kill two birds with one stone that way."

The prankster also got Palin, Republican John McCain's running mate in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election, to reveal a potential ambition for the top job in Washington.

Asked if she would like to eventually become president, the Alaska governor responded, "Well, maybe in eight years."

Palin's office quickly admitted they were hoodwinked.

she shouldn't be allowed to get any nearer the white house than alaska...

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Friday, October 31, 2008

In Kabul and back from the wedding party

it's about 10:30 friday evening and i'm in kabul...

the flight arrived on time, i got checked in and comfortable in the hotel, did a little unpacking and checking of email, and headed off to the wedding party... i got some great photos and video clips... once i go through them all and upload a few of the video clips to youtube, i'll be putting up a post... what a great experience...!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Off to Kabul tomorrow


actually, i will spend most of tomorrow sitting on my tushie in the amman airport (they have free internet wireless, tho!) waiting for an evening flight to dubai where i will spend the night before flying on to kabul on friday...

i arrive in kabul mid-afternoon friday and, shortly thereafter, will be attending a wedding party for an afghan i worked with last time i was there and his new bride... it should be fun and you can plan on me posting some photos... i'm also particularly pumped because one of my friends has invited me over to fly kites from his roof terrace... the return of colder fall and winter weather to kabul means the sky over the city in the afternoon will be filled with kites... i made sure to pack my travel kite when i left buenos aires and it's been with me through my time in nevada and here in jordan... you can bet there will be photos of kite-flying too...

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Light or dark - it's your choice, no one else's

i want to believe and so i've made the choice to believe... if my belief is misplaced and i was wrong, so be it... i'd rather choose to believe in the positive and the light rather than mire myself in criticism, fear and, no matter how much it may be warranted with the events of the past years, cynicism... i know obama is not my savior, but if i focus on the good, the true and the light-filled, maybe we've all got a better chance at achieving it than by focusing on the dark, the false and the hate-filled... we have to be the change we seek...

Yes We Can - Barack Obama Music Video

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Ted Stevens and the return of the rule of law

how encouraging...!
Senator Ted Stevens, Alaska’s dominant political figure for more than four decades, was found guilty on Monday by a jury of violating federal ethics laws for failing to report tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and services he had received from friends.

The jury of District of Columbia residents convicted Mr. Stevens, 84, on all seven felony counts he faced in connection with charges that he knowingly failed to list on Senate disclosure forms the receipt of some $250,000 in gifts and services used to renovate his home in Girdwood, Alaska.

Mr. Stevens, a consistently grim-faced figure, frowned more deeply as the verdict was delivered by the jury foreman, a worker at a drug counseling center. Mr. Stevens’s wife and one of his daughters sat glumly behind him in the courtroom.

In a statement issued after he had left the courthouse, Mr. Stevens was defiant, urging Alaskans to re-elect him to a seventh full term next week.

He blamed what he called repeated misconduct by federal prosecutors for the verdict. “I will fight this unjust verdict with every ounce of energy I have,” he said.


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In Jordan - the valley of Wadi Rum


i promised to post part two of the adventure we undertook last weekend... the previous post focused on petra... this post features wadi rum...

it is impossible to describe the vastness and majesty of the desert scattered about with these massive, wind and water-weathered sandstone monoliths... the emptiness, the silence, the sky, the clouds, the sun and the stars are very much in the foreground of consciousness in wadi rum rather than a barely noticeable part of the background...

we spent the evening out in the desert, watching the sunset and then returned to a desert camp where we were treated to bedouin food and music before retiring to our tent for a night's sleep... at 5:45 the next morning, we dressed and mounted camels for a short trek out into the desert to watch the sun rise... the experience was both indescribable and unforgettable...

some photos to tease your imagination...

Our host for the night -
The Captain's Desert Camp

The community gathering-place at the camp

A Bedouin father and his children
(his youngest daughter is hiding behind him)

Sunset on the desert at Wadi Rum
24 October 2008

Sunrise on the desert at Wadi Rum
25 October 2008

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum (Arabic: وادي رم‎) is a valley cut into the sandstone and granite rock in southwest Jordan. It is the largest wadi in Jordan. The name Rum most likely comes from an Aramaic root meaning 'high' or 'elevated'. To reflect its proper Arabic pronunciation, archaeologists transcribe it as Wadi Ramm.

Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures — including the Nabateans — leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples. As of 2007, several Bedouin tribes inhabit Rum and the surrounding area.

In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who based his operations here during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18. In the 1980s one of the impressive rock formations in Wadi Rum was named "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" in memory of Lawrence's book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the 'Seven Pillars' referred to in the book actually have no connection with Rum (see the Foreword in the book).


The area centred on Wadi Rum (the main valley) is home to the Zalabia Bedouin who, working with climbers and trekkes, have made a success of developing eco-adventure tourism, now their main source of income. The area around Disi to the NE, home to the Zuweida Bedouin and erroneously also thought to be part of Wadi Rum by visitors, caters more for Jordanian visitors from Amman, with campsites regularly used by party-goers.

The area is now also one of Jordan's important tourist destinations, and attracts an increasing number of foreign tourists, particularly trekkers and climbers, but also for camel and horse safari or simply 'day-trippers' from Aqaba or Petra. In contrast, there are almost no local or Arab tourists though nearby Disi (not actually part of Rum) attracts young people from Amman at weekends. Popular activities in the desert environment include camping under the stars, riding Arab horses, hiking and rock-climbing amongst the massive rock formations.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Jordan - the ancient city of Petra


we spent the day on friday (friday and saturday constitute the weekend in islamic countries) in petra, an astonishing archaeological treasure, a large city cut into utah-like sandstone canyons and crevasses, that dates back over 2400 years... you probably remember the famous scene in one of the indiana jones movies that featured the facade of one of the largest, most ornate, and impressive tombs... well, the reality of it is beyond words... unfortunately, not only were there piles of tourists, but nearby they were also filming the next transformers movie (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), imho, unforgiveable tackiness in a place like that...

in any case, here is just a sampling of the many, many photos i took on friday...

Walking through the Siq

Petra Treasury seen from the Siq


The Petra amphitheatre


Petra (from "petra", rock in Greek; Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ) is an archaeological site in the Arabah, Ma'an Governorate, Jordan, lying on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. It is renowned for its rock-cut architecture. Petra is also one of the new wonders of the world.

The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was discovered by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was famously described as "a rose-red city half as old as time" in a Newdigate prize-winning sonnet by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as "one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage." In 1985, Petra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rekem is an ancient name for Petra and appears in Dead Sea scrolls associated with Mount Seir. Additionally, Eusebius and Jerome assert that Rekem was the native name of Petra, supposedly on the authority of Josephus. Pliny the Elder and other writers identify Petra as the capital of the Nabataeans, Aramaic-speaking Semites, and the centre of their caravan trade. Enclosed by towering rocks and watered by a perennial stream, Petra not only possessed the advantages of a fortress but controlled the main commercial routes which passed through it to Gaza in the west, to Bosra and Damascus in the north, to Aqaba and Leuce Come on the Red Sea, and across the desert to the Persian Gulf.

Excavations have demonstrated that it was the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the desert city, in effect creating an artificial oasis. The area is visited by flash floods and archaeological evidence demonstrates the Nabataeans controlled these floods by the use of dams, cisterns and water conduits. These innovations stored water for prolonged periods of drought, and enabled the city to prosper from its sale.


Although in ancient times Petra might have been approached from the south (via Saudi Arabia on a track leading around Jabal Haroun, Aaron's Mountain, on across the plain of Petra), or possibly from the high plateau to the north, most modern visitors approach the ancient site from the east. The impressive eastern entrance leads steeply down through a dark, narrow gorge (in places only 3–4 metres wide) called the Siq ("the shaft"), a natural geological feature formed from a deep split in the sandstone rocks and serving as a waterway flowing into Wadi Musa. At the end of the narrow gorge stands Petra's most elaborate ruin, Al Khazneh ("the Treasury"), hewn into the sandstone cliff.
The Monastery at Petra

A little further from the Treasury, at the foot of the mountain called en-Nejr is a massive theatre, so placed as to bring the greatest number of tombs within view. At the point where the valley opens out into the plain, the site of the city is revealed with striking effect. The amphitheatre has actually been cut into the hillside and into several of the tombs during its construction. Rectangular gaps in the seating are still visible. Almost enclosing it on three sides are rose-colored mountain walls, divided into groups by deep fissures, and lined with knobs cut from the rock in the form of towers.

and, if petra wasn't amazing enough, we went from there to wadi rum, but i will dedicate a separate post to that equally astonishing area...

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