Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rest In Peace, Molly Ivins

I started reading Molly Ivins when I was 25 or so. First in the newspaper, then her books. Even when her books were recycled columns, it didn't matter, she was worth reading again. She didn't always tell me something I didn't know, but she often helped explain why I believe what I do.

Molly was a liberal, and proud of it. She loved people, but mistrusted the ones with power. She hated stupid wars, hypocrisy, and meanness, but it didn't keep her from being funny as hell. She thought, she knew, that the pipefitter in Houston, the farmer in Iowa, the waitress in Los Angeles, all of them, are just as important as the businesswoman in New York and the politician in Washington. She even subscribed to the antiquated notion that people on welfare were human beings.

In the old days, at least, journalists were supposed to live the cliché of "speaking truth to power." Now, Stephen Colbert makes jokes about "the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration" being a work of fiction. We have Judy Miller and Howard Fineman and Marty Peretz, Tim Russert and Mark Halperin and on and on and on until you want to weep with despair for our republic.

But there was always Molly. She was a 62-year old lady from Texas who wasn't afraid to call out the President of the United States when he deserved it. I guess you've got to be tough to be a Texas liberal. Tough she was. According to her editor, Molly dictated her final two pieces because she was too weak to write. The last words of her last column were:

We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"
Molly Ivins died today. Just the fact that someone like her could get published in almost 400 newspapers around the country was cause for hope. Maybe that's the best tribute. Molly gave people hope.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Why I Live Here, Even Now

Take five guys, some chili, beer, and whiskey, a guitar and someone who knows how to play it, and temperatures well into the "Jesus, I can't believe people live here" range, and what do you get? Splitting headaches all around and several incipient gambling problems, for starters.

That aside, it's quieting to stagger onto a frozen lake at 11 p.m. and see nothing but what's illuminated by the moon's reflected light. It's nice too, waking up without a newspaper or internet access, listening to music instead of worrying about what new abomination issued from the White House.

One of my friends keeps insisting he's going to do this full time when he's got enough saved, "live off the grid" he likes to call it. I don't think I could do it forever, or even all that often. This weekend, though, it was good.

Monday, January 22, 2007

State Of The Union Preview - 2007

"Homina, homina, homina

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Night Fluke Blogging

They're so precious. If they didn't exist, we'd have to invent them.

Adult Fasciolopsis Buski: Who's a big boy now?

Clonorchis sinensis - look at that smile!

Paragonimus westermani - yessir, that's my baby!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself

On their first date, Michael Hastings and Andrea Parhamovich met for milkshakes.

Fifteen months later, she followed him to Iraq.

Hastings hoped they would spend their lives together.

But on Wednesday, Parhamovich died in a hail of bullets — ambushed outside a Sunni Arab political office in Baghdad.

Sunni insurgents linked to the Al Qaeda in Iraq group on Thursday claimed responsibility for the attack that took the lives of the 28-year-old and three guards — a Hungarian, a Croat and an Iraqi. Two other security workers were wounded. None of these other victims' names had been released.

"She was an idealist," Hastings said of Parhamovich, who grew up in Perry, Ohio. "She always believed that people were good. Certainly, those ideals were put to the test when she came to Iraq."

Parhamovich, known as Andi, followed heart and ideals when she came to Baghdad. Hastings, a reporter with Newsweek, was working in Iraq. But Parhamovich was also drawn to political work in Baghdad — teaching Iraqis about voting and how to establish a functional government.

She worked first for the International Republican Institute, then joined the National Democratic Institute a few months later.

. . . .

"With God's assistance, we have succeeded in the destruction of two SUV vehicles belonging to the Zionist Mossad," wrote the group that took credit, in a statement on a well-known Sunni insurgent website, " ... killing all who were in them, attacking them by light and medium weapons." The group often refers to its targets as members of Israel's intelligence service.

But in fact, Hastings said, "they killed a wonderful, unarmed girl."

. . . .

The National Democratic Institute is one of the few nongovernmental groups still working in Iraq. The staff lives outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government, often traveling around the capital to run seminars and workshops.

"They did not see themselves as heroes, only people doing a job on behalf of a cause they believed in," said the institute's chairwoman, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, in a statement referring to all four killed in the attack. "They were not the enemies of anyone in Iraq; they were there to help."

. . . .

After spending a few months in Baghdad, Parhamovich had gone back to the U.S. but returned at Christmas. The couple spoke on the phone about future plans, including a long trip to Europe, Hastings said.

"We had — I have still — reservations at the Four Seasons in Paris on Valentine's Day."

Hastings had recently picked out two possible wedding rings. Ever since the milkshakes, he had known he wanted to spend his life with Andi.

"She is pure at heart," he said, bringing her to life — momentarily — in the present tense.
Andrea didn't spend her days in a comfy office or living room, typing up semi-literate postings for The Corner or Hot Air or some other stain on the internet. All she did was move to Iraq to try to help build a future for its people. She won't ever get married, raise kids, or have the chance to pass on the love for the world that she must have felt deep in her heart. She can't. She died "in a hail of bullets."

Molly Ivins writes, "This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war." Molly's too polite by half.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Sunday Morning Bacteria Blogging

Cryptosporidium, looking sassy

Is that an E. coli in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

That's no lady, that's my Streptococcus!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Death of Irony

Thank you Washington Post - the gifts just keep on coming.

Headline #1 -

Home Depot CEO Resignsspacer

Critics call the $210 million package a sign that executive pay has gotten "out of control."

Headline #2 -

New Deal Nostalgia
» George F. Will | The minimum wage is an idea whose time came in 1938. It shouldn't be raised: It should be $0.

Gratuitous picture of weenie included free of charge.