Empty Days

Saturday, March 27, 2004



Watched some bits of today's McLaughlin Group panel-discussion on PBS Mountain Lake station (I have two, the other is from Vermont). The bits I saw were about Clarke vs White House. The group included Pat Buchanan and other sweet personalities (I don't remember ever seeing this program before - maybe because I watch movies or hockey on Saturday Night, or maybe they don't always broadcast it).

First remark: McLaughlin has a pig-loud voice and bullies everybody into complete and total submission just with his loudness. I'd love to watch him out-bully Rumsfeld one of these days :)

Second remark: Pat Buchanan smugly confirmed that Clarke's rebuke of his 2002 background-briefing-to-reporters (FOX transcript) was consistent with a widely known fact that bureaucrats lie a lot to stay in line with their bosses. Haha. I wonder how naive (or disingenious) you gotta be to get scandalized/confused by that particular fact. However life shows that a lot of people out there are exactly that.

Third remark: they all repeated everything that I've already seen said over and over again in media+blogosphere. I have to conclude - I am extremely up to date to this whole debate just from loitering around the blogs. That's funny - maybe I am too sharp, or maybe this program is lame, or most bloggers are not that sharp. Haha.

Fourth remark: I just overcooked my spaghetti.

Fifth remark: Something I rarely hear or see - American dead in Iraq (567), wounded and medically evacuated (14,500 estimate for absence of hard figures from White House). I'd contend that this figure should be habitually included with the heroic-dead figure - some mutilations are worse than death.

***

Update. Blogdex brought this Telegraph article to the fore, disparaging Clarke's allegations. It concentrates on the book - and from everything I hear it seems pretty clear that Clarke's pronouncements in the media lately and what's inside the book are not exactly one and same thing.

The emphasis seems different. The books seems to lend a pretty strong ground to criticism that Clarke is pitting Clinton against Bush, and trying to make himself appear in a better light by extension (and that's what the above article pounces on). While in the interviews, including on the 9/11 commission, his emphasis was rather that Bush and Co had a preconceived idea about invading Iraq and actually *used and doctored* 9/11 events to implement that plan regardless of anything else. In other words, the Clinton-vs-Bush line is far less prominent here.

One thing is clear: you can't really claim that Clinton was so much better on terrorism than Bush - because on the whole that's just not true.

Does it mean that Clarke shot himself in the foot by this particular emphasis in the book? Perhaps. Read the above article: it's not your objective prose but it scores some hard points (and it's funny too).




I have wild imagination sometimes but who knows.

I have these neighbours who moved in next-door last summer. Very nice couple with young children. French-speaking arabs. About two months ago the wife+kids disappeared (well, moved somewhere else, and not through any divorce thing, far from it). So now the hubby is alone and he is constantly having guys over - friends, obviously. But they're quiet - maybe they're geeks or something. And they listen to short-wave radio a lot, in arab of course and I don't understand a word but it's probably short-wave because they have it loud and they're often losing the station.

Either way, this being post-9/11, I do think sometimes that, yeah, these guys could very well be brewing something up in there, and the guy is always home and doesn't seem to go to work (or school) anymore - he used to, when the family was around. And the argument that they're so nice and friendly doesn't hold unfortunately - because why wouldn't they be. The nicer the better.

It'd be really handy if I understood arab (as I actually have to listen to them through these thin walls anyway). But it also goes to explain that the so-called racial profiling is pretty much unavoidable in this situation. Such is the pattern.

I do hope all of this is only in my head - would be really too stupid to find out one fine day that I lived next to an "Al-Queda cell". Heh.

Update: thank God! wife+kids returned today, so the above theory can happily go to hell. The downside is that I will again have to endure those kids screaming and jumping next-door :)




Some left-overs from the 9/11 Commission as presented in the major media. The leftists are picking this up, others probably wait to see if this is substantial enough: Department of Justice Asked FBI Translator To Change Pre 9-11 Intercepts
Incredibly, [Sibel] Edmonds said "The Senate Judiciary Committee and the 911 Commission have heard me testify for lengthy periods of time time (3 hours) about very specific plots, dates, airplanes used as weapons, and specific individuals and activities."

This explosive information has been kept under wraps by the White House, CIA, FBI, and DOJ since Edmonds' 60 Minutes interview segment.
...
"This whole situation is outrageous and I am going public," said Edmonds, adding "I am currently being advised by counsel. Thank you."

Kristen Breitweiser, 9-11 family member and also one of the nick-named Jersey girls, arranged to have Ms. Edmonds address the gathered media right after Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet testified.
Apparently, as gathered from this woman's interview on Jim Lehrer's NewsHour yesterday, those Jersey-girls are seriously upset that the commission did not propose tougher questions to the respondents. And maybe they're right. Which means: can one expect the findings of this commission to be entirely fair and probing enough? Maybe not 100%.

Attendant story rediscovered in the new Clarke-light - an old CBS interview with Sibel Edmonds.

Right? Truth coming to light, after all this time? Always does.




Notice how I never say a word about Palestino-Israeli conflict though it's raging without respite. That's because this conflict has been around for half-a-century now and it has not moved an inch from where it started - all the grim variations are nothing but variations of the same old theme. The one single time when it had a real chance to get resolved for good was when Itzak Rabin, the former general with a vision, took control. And you know what happened. Whatever they say or do today is nothing new, on whichever side you are on this. It won't get them out of the hole - because the line of thinking is again back to the old theme and that theme has no resolution.

Do you remember why they killed Rabin?

There is nothing else to say.




Chernobyl biker-girl is back with more eerie photos. Suggestion: download site before the it crashes again :)




Bill Moyers had a very good summing-up speech on "NOW" this past Friday. I can't find it in the archives at PBS just now. Maybe it will show up eventually but I sort of doubt it, since the program is obviously not a live event and they prepare things in advance. Too bad. There was something about his speech that reminded me of the 60 Minutes "and" Andy Rooney - they're both old folks from the WWII era, the very opposite of the somewhat wishy-washy 1960's liberals; there is this, how can I put it? moral fiber about these guys that comes across very strongly. It's not just "the wisdom of old age" - it's rather a glimpse of a very different, much more straight-forward world, where things were said plainly and you knew what you stood for exactly. Those guys are not dinosaurs - they're the true fathers of modern liberalism and, sadly, most of the younger sons are bastards.

Moyers spoke of a ration-tickets book he found in his drawers the other day - and remembered how it was when he was a kid in 1943. Yeah, America was at war then and everything was "for the front" and the people back home knew where they stood on this and what they had to do - be frugal for a cause. And he asks: and where do we stand today? I wish somebody told us.
(which is why I want the transcript - obviously he said it far better:)

But that's the symbol, that ration-tickets booklet. It's a fucken symbol, ladies and gentlemen. It's a symbol of hard times and daily, normal, non-heroic sacrifices that bring a community together. It beats by a mile any bullshit that any poster or slogan can throw at you. The non-heroic part of it. The simple truth. It's simply not there at the moment - and it should be.

That's the message. Get it.

***

I only discovered this "NOW" show recently. Haven't been watching tv with any sort of regularity in a very long time. Glad I found it - I had no idea some human sense could still be made on tv on a weekly basis :-0

(60 Minutes lost that status a while ago - it's driven by hype, or call it big money)




Serious spring-weather holding on - we're in the +10C here, rainy, misty, damp and wonderful. Last night we had a real London-fog event, very mysterious and cosy.

***

Bad shit. The guy at the Cancer Blog is not doing well at all. If I were a yellow-ass catholic I'd say something lame like "let's pray" and all but I can't lie with a straight face. Every man is trapped in his life and destiny like a poor kitten trapped in a bag and the whole so-called wisdom of the world cannot affect that fact. You can't learn lessons from tragedies and you can't come to grips with the facts of life and death - there's either resignation or pure non-sensical suffering, or both, and most frequently both. You can always sing hymns though.

The mind is not good at grasping basic facts. Buddha was right - and I am not sure what he meant. Let's ditch words for the moment.

***

At Video Meliora there is some usual "drama" of some first-rate catholic ditching his marriage. Ah, the tragedy. Of course the tragedy is thickly coated in so-called "doctrinal worries" about how it's not right. Jesus. I've seen this hypocrisy and the global bitching at close quarters once upon a time - to the point of where the "unfaithful wife" got so paranoid about losing her status as a first-rate christian that she even suspected *me* of going after her on this. Fuck. I had to explain in no uncertain terms that I'd always ditch a doctrine for a human being - was she ever relieved. Not that it cured her though - her new hubby is even more orthodox than her old crowd and she's again the queen of all doctrines - got a new start in a faraway country. Yeah, religion is about status - in case you never figured that out.

***

There are other things but I'll postpone.

One thing I have to learn everyday (because there is a mechanism that wants me to forget) is that it is important to speak your own mind exactly as it is - especially when it's filled with supposed silliness. Trying to be smart ruins the truth. The only guiding light is truth - the one that is not found in words of wisdom.

The greatest error is to seek reflected understanding. Which I do all the time regardless - but it bears no fruit, which is a good thing because it reminds me.

Oftentimes that truth is actually that silliness.




Manifesto ::

Heh. Normally I am not terribly excited about politics - but when something glaring catches my eye, it's usually because it's really big and I can't afford not to notice.

That happened with Maher Arar story here in Canada, same thing now with Richard Clarke over in US. I think the case of Arar was important in the same way as that of Clarke is now - some glaring wrong-doings being exposed, and the importance of taking heed and getting the right meaning.

By contrast I could care less about certain media-hype stories over trifles - like the WMD or Bush-awol hypes in US and some party-fights here in Canada. Why? Because they don't really touch on the big issues - they only allude to them.

And I think that's fine. You don't need to be a huge politico-buff to figure out what's really bad and what looks more like vital truth. I am certainly missing on some finer nuances every time but that's because I don't need to waste any time on those - I am not a political columnist, I am your regular joe, and with the kind of barrage of confused information you get at my level you really can't afford to worry about nuances.

Media can overload you with overpowering, massive bullshit. It takes some inner resistence to make sense out of all this.

***

Next question. Why, as a canadian, should I worry about what's happening in USA? Strangely enough, the answer is not what you think. I see that the issue or Iraq and the way Bush and Co brought it about segregated America from the rest of the world. It created incredible anemosity and doubt. And it upsets me no end - because after what happened on 9/11 americans deserve all possible support at least from their regular allies. And after WTC they had it - tons of it. So what the fuck happened that turned everybody against USA? It's obvious - Bush happened, Iraq happened, lies and propaganda to their own people, suppression of debate under the guise of patriotism, bullying a whole nation into believing they were alone and had no choice but to be alone. Jesus. That's worse than a lie - it's a fucking crime against their own people.

So yeah. Maher Arar was an innocent canadian who was wrongfully sent to a syrian jail to be tortured. He deserved to be freed and vindicated. And the american people were gagged, brain-washed, and lied to on account of Iraq by their own gov - and they deserve to be freed and vindicated.

That's what this whole Clarke thing is about. It's important - I really hope it won't go away.

***

Addenda. By contrast check out this article about the merits of going after Iraq, without direct connection to either Al-Quaeda or 9/11. More specifically it tries to get inside Wolfowitz' head. Excerpt:

What is someone who has not read Clarke's book to make of his claims, at least those that have made their way into public conversation in recent days?
...
As the Bush administration gauged the impact of Sept. 11, policymakers split into two camps: those who argued that the US must respond narrowly against Al Qaeda and its supporters, namely the Taleban in Afghanistan; and those who sought a broader mandate to reshape Middle Eastern countries regarded as terrorist breeding grounds.


Friday, March 26, 2004



Finally!

PBS talk show - at least they're saying the obvious: that public officials lie to stay in line with their bosses while under duty (regarding Clarke's controversy, comparing his under-duty pronouncements as released by FOXnews to his current accusations etc etc etc)

Anyway. Those who are intent on smearing this guy just because they don't want to hear any evil about Bush and Co - what can you do, so be it. But it's kind of reassuring to hear some obvious things mentioned on tv (even if it's only PBS).

Btw - have you noticed that CBS, with its 60 Minutes folks who are supposed to be so fearless and all, are actually miles behind those keen little people on PBS? I wonder how the size of the network affects freedom of thought and word - a lot, it seems.

I have to add that I am getting to dislike David Brooks of NYTimes more and more. What a toothless weasly guy - posing as some sort of a big smart critic. But anyway. If that's what they want as their star-columnist...




I can't believe it - the snow is gone, overnight :-0

God it's nice to have that earth open up and smell :)




Spree of blogs: frozen truth (artful), ncfocus (yet another liberal), oldman1787 (self-thinking), bopnews (seems balanced), angry bear (militant liberal)

***

Invisible Adjunct which was a cool disgruntled academia blog is going off air through loss of employment.




Here's something interesting I read in comments on yet another previously unknown blog (BOPnews). That comes in response to an open question there: I see a few reports here and there that Bush is rising in the polls again. I wonder if anyone has an explanation.
Former President Clinton said correctly that people will prefer a leader that is strong and wrong, versus weak and right.

Right now I'm about to get several dem's piling on me on the "strong" appellation to Bush, so let me qualify. "Strength" is defined here as the willingness to use extreme measures and/or physical force to achieve social dominance. This essentially implies that people prefer ruthless dictators to pacificistic democratic leaders.

Then you add to it that Bush is essentially a partisan leader. He doesn't represent Americans in general, just his "base". The only time a "strong" leader is not preferred of course, is when he's not your leader.

If you think about it, this entirely explains why the country is split the way it is. My former colleagues the Republicans are united around their "strong" leader, while Democrats are getting politically marginalized.

As for the Bush surge, think about Rove's ads. They all attempt to portray John Kerry as weak, indecisive, or incapable of ruthlessness. Almost all Democratic attacks attempt to portray Bush as ruthless, corrupt, or callously incompetent. However these inadvertantly only reinforce his base-line support.

That's what Dem's don't get. It's not enough to portray Bush as ineffective, selfish, and abusive of power. Those will only help him get relected.

We're talking essentially about a challenge situation. Kerry has to show himself able to challenge Bush in basic ruthlessness, cunning, and decisiveness. Only then if he's nicer will he get the electoral nod.

I've tried explaining this before and have been told that the jobs situation and Iraq will defeat Bush, not Kerry. I think this is idealistic, but dead wrong. Think about Dukakis. Think about Dole falling off the podium. People won't vote in a weak President. They will vote in a corrupt or lying one. But not a weak one, or one percieved as weak, especially not when they're concerned about security.

They'd rather have the big mean ineffectual corrupt alpha male than the well intentioned but not so nasty nice guy. That's the key to this whole thing.

Posted by Oldman at March 22, 2004 07:06 AM
That's a very keen point, imho. And while I am at it here's an entry from Oldman's blog per se - and, fuck, I like the sound of it:
As an old-time Republican from a family of Republicans from a politically conservative area, I have to say that at this point I'd rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for GW Bush. I don't hate Bush. His father got my vote. [...]
Maybe I am a libertarian and don't know myself? :-0




Winds of change - ride the wave ::

Prior to that wonderfully sharp movie I happened to watch a not-so-wonderful ABCnews primetime special on D.Rumsfeld.

Oh shit - could you tell I live in Canada :) I mean, it's like living next to a vulcano or, to take another analogy, in the shadow of Chernobyl melt-down plant - always so boiling-hot it might blow-up right across the street (or call it border). Consequently most canadians are viscerally concerned with things they can't do a thing about - and that would be american politics, and media, and all. Very funny.

Either way, this special on Rumsfeld was bizarre. I think it tried to cut a balanced line - but this being ABCnews, which is probably as slovenly a network as NBC and possibly worse (and I am so greatful I don't have FOXnews or CNN to mess-up my mind), it didn't cut any such line except hammering in once more that "a tough leader is a good leader" - and that's how Rumsfeld comes across from that supposed "investigative probing" into his career & character and I don't know what else.

However. The fact that such a kiss-ass network as ABC "dares" to mimick probes and all that sort of thing they have no clue how to do - that at least means there is a "wind of change" going on and they're trying to ride it.

***

And Dean married Kerry today. Send in your bouquet :)

Thursday, March 25, 2004



What a treat that Citizen Ruth movie today - and I watched it in French, so I am pretty sure some priceless regional-accent bits were lost in translation. Incidentally, I should probably be very thankful that I even get to watch such cool movies with just a basic cable subscription - but that's because it's Montreal, and half of the population are certified intellectuals :)

I certainly don't need to write a review here because it's a pretty straight-forward movie and it's just all-around hilarious. Something in the vein of American Beauty - that kind of razor-sharp, near-burlesque humour that cuts right through all the bullshit of a certain well-known kind. I mean, how cool are those lesbian/intellectual pro-choice advocates mixed with bikers and former special-service men? And how true-to-nature are those bigoted-to-god do-gooder marchers and "what can I possibly do with my life" pro-life militants?

Oh fuck - you have to see the film to get my meaning. It cracked me up throughout. And that poor nitwit Ruth herself? I mean - if this is not the very Virgin-Mary of All America I don't know what is :) The unsuspecting, innocent slut who is also the most truthful character in that whole world of stultifying ideologies.

Excellent, excellent show. (btw, Laura Dern is just superb in this role - it wouldn't be the same film without her)




While rummaging through various unknown blogs found this guy whose both parents, american christian missionaries, were killed in a drive-by shooting in Iraq just recently.

He's probably my age, judging by his parents' age.

This is a willing sacrifice, much more willing than that of the military - you go there, you know you might die pretty easily just because you're too obviously american or just western. Sure enough, you are 100% supportive of the whole Iraq war - and you contribute to the supposed liberation, and you get shot by some violent locals who think otherwise.

Is this stupidity? In a way, yes. But it's also innocence and high ideals. It's not wily and smart and all-knowing - it just gets you killed. This is an all-american story, the two faces of the medal: idealism and stupidity. How do you sort that out without destroying the good part? I don't think it's even possible.

"Saddam was bad, we are good". That's it.




An appendix to the previous. Instapundit thinks that a 2002 interview with Clarke where he praises Bush etc is somehow a refutation of his present claims. Right. Now I have to wonder - Clarke was still a public official back then, under duty with the Bush administration. Would it have been possible for him to throw any mud at all at his boss? I don't think so.

Take Colin Powell, the current foreign secretary - he's doing his job, he's toughing it out and everything. Perhaps if he was less of a soldier he would have quit that administration too - and it's an open guess what sort of totally bad tales he'd have to tell thereafter. And people would still say he was a liar because as a public servant he was obliged to say things to support his boss all through?

Sure. In that case *all* public servants under duty are liars - and they are indeed.




It's kinda hard to make sense of this whole Richard Clarke debate at the moment. I mean, I don't find it abnormal that vast numbers of people are trying to question his credibility - that would be my first question too, since it's kinda important that devastating arguments should not have ulterior motives undermining their impact.

Obvious, no? Right. The problem is that detractors are too keen on throwing mud at whatever doesn't sit well with them, so there is nothing one can learn from them except that they're so upset etc. But this review of Clarke's possible motives sounds pretty balanced and, pending further notice, I guess I'd go with that as a guiding light amidst raging chaos:
The key thing, though, is this: Both sets of traits tell me he's too shrewd to write or say anything in public that might be decisively refuted. As Daniel Benjamin, another terrorism specialist who worked alongside Clarke in the Clinton White House, put it in a phone conversation today, "Dick did not survive and flourish in the bureaucracy all those years by leaving himself open to attack."
What rings especially true about Clarke's insistence that Bush's gang was as lame as lame could be pre-9/11 is that I distinctly remember how they were so off-everything in "peacetime". I mean, here you had a Bush-I administration reassembled, all war-like and everything, and they just had nothing to do! Their main gist was turning away from foreign-policy concerns to reduce taxes - remember?

That's what was so peculiarly upsetting about Bush and Co, that they were so kin to throw overboard all the stuff Clinton was good about - excellent relations with "the rest of the west" etc. And then WTC came and everything changed - finally they had a perfect environment to exercise their militaristic streak. In a way, Bush was lucky that it came on his watch - what a darn lucky guy!

What Clarke does is that he reminds Amerika of what Bush was really like when he came in. That he was a provincially-minded nitwit and didn't hide it. And that he's used 9/11 to his own nitwit advantage ever since. People are so traumatized they forgot that. And it's a hard and ungrateful task to remind a whole country that it's been had.

Clarke may be a bureaucrat and a wily guy, but he's got the proper guts and the proper sense of duty and enough personal anger to take the heat when it counts. Hail the bureaucrat.

***

Yesterday on Jim Lehrer NewsHour (PBS), some members of the 9/11 commission were interviewed. One particularly sensible comment was: US can no longer afford to indulge in very long transition periods between administrations - everything comes to a full-stop and the gov effectively becomes non-functional for months on end. This has to change and the commission is gonna make it clear in their report.

Good thinking.




Blogdex never disappoints - Noam Chomsky has a blog :-0

Here's the first post on that blog, with 109 comments attached already (Atrios must be getting the jitters:):
Welcome to Turning The Tide

This blog will include brief comments on diverse topics of concern in our time. They will sometimes come from the ZNet sustainer forum system where Noam interacts through a forum of his own, sometimes from direct submissions, sometimes culled from mail and other outlets -- always from Noam Chomsky.

Posted by Noam Chomsky at 12:18 PM (March 24, 2004)
What is strange is that instead of saying "where I interact through a forum of my own", he speaks in the third person singular... I mean, wtf Noam, is this your blog or not??




Sad stories of the underworld ::

It's good not to spend too much time on one's own misery but on the other hand it's there all the time - no matter what you spend your time on.

There was a turning point in my life when it finally dawned on me that, no matter what I do and where I go, I will never be able to find a circle of people I could call my own - remotely familiar, recognizable. That blasted "shared context" really fell off, like an old snake's skin. It was not a decision but a realization of a deep truth for which I had no explanations at the time - in fact I am still looking for those blasted explanations, as a sort of psychological sport, because proving this theorem wouldn't change a thing anyway. I can't fool myself into hope - nor can I find any truthful grounds for hope.

Sure, it's all my fault anyway. And I am ok with that - so be it. I don't know and will never know why and how come, what strange combination of inner predispositions and bad breaks came about to produce precisely this result and nothing else. I mean, it's not a general rule - some people make it, others don't. Go figure. People love to take credit for their efforts, hard work and other acts of heroism in the struggle of life, and then they walk around and claim that they know what to do and how. Well, those wonderful chaps have no clue to what extent their stamina is a gift from heaven - they really think everyone has it and they wonder how come some don't use it. What a waste etc. Ah shit. People are alike but obviously not alike enough to institute those superior general rules and claim that you only have to go by the book and all will fall into place as if by magic.

And yet this is what human idea of humanity is like. "Let's abolish poverty" and all that crap. How about "everyone should be gay because I am"? Sounds far-fetched? But it's that same kind of mentality - that somehow there's a universal secret somewhere and I am privy to it, and everybody should do as I say because it works for me. This is age-old bullshit and it's everywhere. The social moral industry wants it to be that way. Basically, an ideal society would have sons doing what their fathers and forefathers did and nothing else. Sounds ancient, medieval? And yet that's the perfection of original society - and we haven't discovered anything new or better, despite all the mental revolutions out there.

It's that gap, an abyss in fact, between myself and the human world that I can't negotiate no matter what I do or not do. I still vaguely remember the time of youth when I had this conviction that all doors were open and I could walk into strange homes and meet new people and more people through those and so on - an endlessly open prospect of the world unexplored yet legitimately mine to discover. Oh boy - it feels like such an utterly outdated vision now. I mean, I actually used to have a sense of community once upon a time. Don't know where it's gone but it's not there now, that at least is obvious. And final. I wish I could lie about that.

I guess that's also why I lost my original sense of adventure - because where do you go if everywhere you go you're nowhere? Heh. That's a good one. The essence of adventure is meeting - and who or what are you gonna meet at this stage except yourself? Omnia mea mecum porto, quite so.

There is no point in movement if movement is nothing but a carrying of a well-known never-budging burden - which is you as you are, period.

Another interesting side-effect of this ever-present burden of being is that terrific inability to relax and take a break from yourself and merge with whatever world you're in at any given moment. I can't do that - it's as if I had my back against the wall and somehow the whole of the universe were pushing me in. I don't have a home and can't make one - I am not at home in the world, at all.

It's all in the head, of course, because the fucking roof is there above my head and the four walls and enough cash in the bank to get by. Not a tampest and not the four winds tearing me apart - that would be too grand for such a small scenario, really. But it is enough to know every second of my waking life that there is nothing out there I can plug into - and that's the definition of anxiety. Maybe this is a normal condition - but it's wearing me down no end.

I am on vacation from life and it's terribly tiring.

To be totally realistic, I would probably do rather well in World War III - because then you cease to matter to such an extent that this whole burden of why and how is taken away through catastroph, and you're just doing whatever frantic deeds are needed, and your individual happiness or unhappiness is absolutely without import.

The problem in times of prosperity is that you are actually required to conquer happiness. It's a huge burden and I am so not up to it.

My own family is thoroughly ashamed and saddened by me because of my lack of happiness (which is a very simple thing, in a way). I can't show my face out there until I am content and reposing from the fruits of my labors, or whatever it's called. The basics - learn your alphabet.

I wish I could just let it all fly right out of the window. That would be me - flying and landing. What else - since I am my own worst nightmare.

Put this way it sounds almost hilarious. And it is, really. I am still undecided whether to make it into a big fat tragedy or a big flat joke. Rolling the dice every day, as they say.

[ Sorry for not mentioning the bright side of life so much. I can't fit it in here ]




It's very strange, those Bush campaign ads on tv. I mean - what is this talk-to-the-baby woman voice doing there, sweetly insinuating that Kerry is wrong on terror because he's wrong on terror? Are they trying to address the 5-year olds in the living room - more votes the better?

Suppose I don't even care about Kerry or whatever. But this is insulting - I wouldn't even go to vote if I had that sort of kindergarden sassy crap directed at me. If this is what the average american viewer is supposed to be like it's pretty scary - men in diapers running the world :-0




This is really funny (from blogdex) - Oregon bans all marriages until it decides whether gays can wed too :-0

Actually, that's a pretty sensible response to an insane debate.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004



Saying hi to madness ::

It's a known psychological phenomenon that some people can't help telling tall stories in one breath and actually believe their own divagations. But deep-down they know they're stretching it thin - and yet can't help themselves.

I don't know if you've ever encountered these cases. In flesh and blood, so to speak. The person seems pretty normal, maybe a bit hyper though, and he just keeps going on and on about things that just sound too unreal - and yet he obviously believes what he's saying, and at the same time is scared to death that you might catch him out on some of these (he or she, btw, I've seen both). So you don't - you don't point anything out, you play dumb and you act kind. Because one psychological fact about this is that somebody who resorts to unconscious lies is too low on himself to believe he still has some truths to tell that would be enough to lift him out of that lowlessness he sees himself in.

Dostoevsky described this type perfectly, for all ages to come - the cast-out drunkard who has not one shred of anything left to hold on to in the world, and those tall tales are the only pitiful thing that he can build some dignity upon. How crazy is that? It is crazy. Some people are so utterly, so profoundly destroyed they have no other choice - they don't lie on purpose, and there is no malice in such lies. Yeah, they're crazy. You'd be crazy too, if your life put you that low.

What can you do for such an individual? Nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. All you can do is show some good humour and take it easy and buy into everything and not be scandalized that you're being taken for a ride. It doesn't matter. You're in the presence of pure desperation, such that you rarely see otherwise among standard people. Nobody's crazy on purpose. Sure not.

But it does require that you be flawless yourself. You gotta hold two completely opposite attitudes at the same time - knowing better all the way, combined with complete belief. Mind-twisting? Yes. You dance on a dime. Don't get yourself manipulated, albeit willingly but not unknowingly. Because you're in the crazyland and you gotta hold on to some of your own normalcy - but not too much.

The greatest difficulty is sadness. Overwhelming sadness and helplessness at seeing someone so beyond it. Nothing you can do. Except tough it out regardless and not defend yourself through judgment. Too many times I've been incapable of sustaining this line because it's too overwhelmingly sad and it kills you. That sadness is the fear of your own possible madness setting in - we all carry these seeds inside us, coming in contact with madness brings it out, that's where fear comes from.

Fear and rejection. You want to flee and hide from this. You don't want to know. The most susceptible ones are the ones most in fear of their normalcy getting shattered. Cetainly that would include me on various occasions.

***

I've said as much about fear of self-killing - how people are so deathly afraid of suicide and how their judgement of it is so profoundly skewed on that account. Because it's there in you too, it can become if you let it loose. Who could have guessed, n'est-ce pas?

The ingrained fear of euthanasia, for example. Forget all those pompous arguments that go against it. The one and only argument is that you're scared shitless of the whole idea - as it applies to who you are, your idea of how life should be. You can't possibly ever find yourself in such an improbable unthinkable situation that you might wish for your own death. Nops - this is out of the question. Life can't deal you such a hard hand. God of all life is too kind, he won't let this happen, he won't let you fall that low, lose your will, your reason, your grasp on life.

The fear of death is linked to that inability to look life in the face - to see all the horrendous suffering that happens to various people for no reason whatsoever. You look and you don't see - because you can't see yourself in what you see. You absolutely refuse to envision that this crazy fuck out there clamoring for his own death might be you - some time later. It's too frightening. So you'd rather "protect" the crazy fuck from himself - all the while imagining that somehow this will protect you.

Basically, when it comes to rot and suffering of life, you lose all your democracy - it happens to others, who are too weak. You otoh may never go so weak, ever.

But this is not strength - this is fear. Stupidity is most frequently born out of that fear that underlines all your most shining beliefs. The nothingness that lies underneath faith in life - you walk on water and you might sink, but you can only so walk while you don't know you might sink. This is the origine of all stupidity - not having the guts to look because you might miss your step.

Amen. Those who talk most about their faith and their beliefs are those the most in fear of losing their step. Eyes wide shut - for fear.

(wasn't it Kierkegaard who blathered about innocence living in fear of nothingness? he twisted it rather out of proportion)




Just for the record: how is it possible that I am getting Strength VIII in something that by now would be like 6 out of 9 draws? In all different positions (but never reversed) - it just won't go away. It's about time I got the right idea here.

Pompous quote: "The card has nothing to do with self-confidence in the ordinary sense, though this has been suggested--but it concerns the confidence of those whose strength is God, who have found their refuge in Him. There is one aspect in which the lion signifies the passions, and she who is called Strength is the higher nature in its liberation. It has walked upon the asp and the basilisk and has trodden down the lion and the dragon."

Vague but more to the point (Nigel Jackson at www.llewellyn.com): "Spiritual strength; dignity; self-mastery; animal passion tamed by subtlety and gentleness overcoming brute energy; mind over matter; self-discipline bringing control."

Recently morphed into repeatedly appearing Empress III > Star XVII > Temperance XIV. Other trumps coming and going in clusters - Judgement XX > Moon XVIII > Wheel of Fortune X > Hermit IX. Also of note: Tower XVI as significator twice.

Looks like a big fight going on.




The frightening aspect of some of those mystical things is that they occur right in your physical body - upsetting the hell out of your holy system. Remember all those poor mystics (if you're into philosophy, you know what happened to B.Pascal): they were struck, truly struck and thrown out of their normal mind. How scary is that? It is not an experience you want to go through - and when it comes over you it might be a hard terrifyingly powerful jolt.

I will resist any such mystical experiences as long as I can, with the sober understanding that it might not depend on me to avoid any of it.

Please, take that away for the time being. I have a fragile mental constitution and it's already hard enough to hang on to my mere rational bearings. Jesus...

[ For those of you reading who think I am crazy, disregard and skip to the politico bits :) ]




Btw, there is a good case to be made that Tarot in its origins had little occult meaning, at least as it was introduced in Europe in the Middle Ages. That it had eventually acquired this meaning, which was then intensely execerbated by the highly spiritualized (and in many ways extremely presumptious) leanings of free-masonry and other magic-searching western developments, can be partly blamed on something that I would call "looking for the holy grail" mentality so very peculiar to an increasingly secularized world - a sort of yearning for the higher mystery in the vacuum of too much reason taking up too much space. Note that most of those super-reverential writings about tarot come from early XIXc - based on not much-older sources. Interesting, no? Interesting how we so want to claim "we know that something that nobody else knows" - when, really, we don't.

Anyway. Let's not fall over our heads here. Some things are uncanny but we're just too self-important about it.

I mean, you do remember the psychadelic craze and Carlos Castaneda? We're still in the same era here - early XIXc or mid-XXc, it's all the same stuff happening all over again, under various guises. The one *glaring* fact about all this is that self-important streak of "I know" when there are no grounds for that at all. Hails back to the western mystics, who were all convinced to the very last of them that they knew something for sure and could draw you a picture and show you where all the seraphims and cherubins stood and in what exact order. Kabbala as we know it is also not that old. Terrific yearning for the secret knowledge - and drawing diagrams and maps of heaven. WTF?

You could say science has taken a sizable chunk of mystery out of life. Maybe. At the very same time however, this thirst for "secret doctrines" is also a sort of scientific thinking - because once you "know" all those terrific secrets you're pretty much a sort of a scientist of the improbable. It's that kind of thinking - the root is the same. Let's find out and grab it by the tail.

My answer: watch out for that brick over your head. It might or might not fall. That's the end of all learning, sadly :)




The glaring thing is that I cannot rightfully take credit for anything that happens in my mind. Especially when I feel super-wise - on account of all the times I feel super-stupid. Either way, nothing is to my credit.

All my faults are all mine - and at the same time they're not. There is a measure of profound irresponsability to being that somehow goes hand-in-hand with your actions and reactions, bad and good choices. You are both responsible and unwitting and you can't take credit for anything.

Guilt simply doesn't enter into it - though it does, and how.

I am not sure what's going on all of a sudden (and better not speculate) but at the very surface of things it is nice to finally draw something like this card in the Outcome. Looks good - but we'll see, come what may, and all that.

***

It's also totally great to draw the same major cards from absolutely unrelated decks - talk about coincidence. Once more, I am impressed with the continuity of successive draws: does look very much as if the trumps were morphing from state A to state B to state C etc. In a perfectly chaotic randomness this shouldn't be happening. But maybe such mathematical randomness does not exist anywhere in nature except in our idea of how total chaos should look. Isn't that grand?

I don't think they teach that at school - I guess it'd be too scary to teach that. How scary is it that true chaos should not exist? Terrible!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004



Life as nuts, in a nutshell ::

There is this unsolvable problem I am butting against - it's not even a problem, it's a fact of life. How to live and why. I absolutely cannot answer the latter; the former is somewhat less intractable but is interwined with the "why" and thus acts as a trip-wire. Hilariously, the basics are obvious - I am alive. What's more, my presence in the world has some damnable consequences. I've been stupid, bad shit has developed. Today I dreamt some seedy dream about that crazy lying junkie witch who killed herself. One mighty dark dream. The fact that somebody who is absolutely and entirely dead still lives in your memory as if nothing has happened - what do you do with that, I'd like to ask. It seems to me that I can't grasp the facts of reality - *that dead people are dead*. Period. End. Finish. Not there. An empty space. Gone. Dissolved.

Could it be that it might not be that simple? Ah.

In fact, it looks very much as if reality were not composed of hard facts that have a clear beginning and a definitive end - but rather of these memories that my mind refuses to write off as non-relevant. I'd like to believe that my oldest childhood episodes are past history, without any impact on the present wildly diverging circumstances. Wrong again! Nothing is gone - everything stays put and builds its own micro-universe of wildly inconclusive complexities. Good God - where is the present, the fucking gift of the present??

Most glaringly, the present has no say in the past. On the scales of this insane inner reality the past out-weighs the present by a margin of a billion to one. In fact, I have no idea what to do with such a flimsy nearly non-existent present. It's unnecessary. I am alive. Where's the sense in any of this?

So we've dealt with the question of "why" - it's unanswerable and there's the end of it. Ok. Fine. It's senseless and unnecessary. What's next? How to. Yes, indeed. How to. (and why - haha). How do we deal with an unnecessary present that actually constitutes the so-called gift of life? The basics, right - "I am alive". What do we do? Do we follow our primal instincts in search of food (best food) and sex (best mate)? What else do we do if, for some terrifically human reason, food sounds kinda lame (peanut butter and gelly is kinda ok) and sex is kinda too much trouble to bother with (all the social-life efforts that go into it, I mean this is just too crazy - and kinda lame too as a prime-necessity). Chew-chew, bang-bang.

What else is there?

Human interaction, frienships, fights, battles for justice, society, big, small, identity, all that crap. The juice of life. Sour lemon - that's juice too. Power. Wherever this bitch comes from. I can't just plug-in into some pre-packaged universe and go with it - for some stupid reason I can't. It doesn't work - everything blows up to high-heaven and I find no plug I can plug into. Should I draw a door on the brick-wall and maybe actually try to walk right through? Wow. What a land of Oz this is after all. "Follow the yellow brick road..." La-la, la-la.

Yes, people have buttons. You can play those buttons or take a fall and you'll accidentally push some of those - and you'll dance the dance of the button-activated. Yes, indeed, it's all true. Wherever your buttons will take you - or do they call that heart?

Think about it - why do some people kill themselves? They're not all the same, they're actually quite different and for a long time, for most of their life in fact, they had no fucking clue it was going to end that way. No, they did not. They had any number of hopes and they tried to plug-in into some of those big electrical clusters out there. And every time they busted their safety-caps or what not. There is no scientific/biblical/reasonable (LOL, please) explanation to this - it's the fucking mystery of the fucking gift of life. It's the "I am alive" fact getting thin at some point. How do you live up to your "I am alive" fact? Well, news - sometimes you don't. The end.

I must confess, I absolutely must - I love that mystery. I love the fact that everything can happen. The worst is possible. The very ugliest, most desperate, most unthinkable, craziest, repulsive, mind-boggling worst is an open possibility. Bow to it and take off your fool's cap for once. Yes - a brick may fall from the blue innocent sky and bash your skull in. That's the innocence of facts - they just *happen*. There's no why. Hurray! Hail to the no-why! No reason. All is possible - thinkable or not. It just doesn't matter. Can you believe that? It's too freaking insane - I love that.

I bow to the great mystery of fates. No plugs attached.

So, yes, I might have to draw that door on the wall - and walk through it. And hey - why not. Follow the yellow brick road. In the valley of shadows or whatever canyon or river-bed. It's all in the commercials anyway. Let's laugh. It's laughable. There *are* no answers - none.

Unwisdom.

Lastly I would like to say a big "fuck you" to all those countless nitwits who profess to know the answer because they think it's in some book and they've read it. Mama mia. The book of life has never been written - ahoy, wake up! It's not there and there's nothing you know beside your own ignorance. Pray to it, bow to it, confess and profess, it's all a huge, incredible, laughable nothing. Ah, the twits. Ah, the poor poor twits. Laughable, lovable, fatuous farts. Anyway - sometimes it's so overbearing it matters. But mostly it doesn't.

But yes - it's important to be kind to the silly.

So it does look like I will finally have to come of age in respect to the final solution. What a wonderful expression - it really says it so well. Cruel people are particularly talented when it comes to coining some memorable phrases. Yes - have you ever wondered what it must have felt like to suddenly find yourself stripped and walking down a short flight of stairs into a "magical chamber"? Don't you think it did *not* involve massive last-minute reflections on the historical fates of the jewish nation? Do you think it felt any different than having a huge brick suddenly land on your unsuspecting head out of the blue blue sky? Aw. Forget all those idiotic books you've read. No - all this happened to the "I am alive" fact, and that fact is unwritten. It does not think - it lives and dies for no particular reason. Shit happens. Or it doesn't. Those are the basics. Laughable.

Anyway. It was a nice rant. Not an equation - not solvable. I am not even sure I said anything - least of all why I said this or that. It's truly amazing to what extent it matters not. Wow. Whatever comes out or goes by.

Where's my fool's cap? Oh - I am invisible :)




I am freezing! The crazy thing about spring is that heat is cut off because of wild variations of day/night temps, and as a result you freeze during the day - the wind is still chilly, no matter what that stupid thermometer says.

Being cold gets me angry. I am already pretty strung-up but this really makes me want to pound someone with a heavy tool. I am noticing that political rants are a good way to onload that extant negativity - for no other reason that it has to go somewhere. Perhaps the age-old idea that political convictions are rooted in reason should be revised - it might be something else entirely but few would admit to such sordidly physiological facts. Either way, the world rolls on - god knows where to.

***

I blather so much about american politics, I am practically obliged to identify this blog as canadian - to clearly indicate that I have no fucking say in the matter! (and thus can blather on and on with god-like wrath or detachment)

To prove which, I guess, we had a huge snowfall today. Yes indeed.

Monday, March 22, 2004



Saw a good film yesterday (once again, chanced on it in the middle - fuck tv schedule) - La vie revee des anges (eng. review Dreamlike life of angels).


About two girls trying to make it on their own outside of your normal curriculum. It's hard to describe this sort of movie because it's mostly a psychological thing - what drives people to behave the way they do. It's interesting to see how individual psychology becomes a plot-line and leads you to either hell or heaven for no other reason than that's how you are. Psychology has no moral to teach - because everything is as it is. People don't make mistakes - they act in a certain way that may be self-destructive. Is it a mistake that you be self-destructive?

There are two characters: a brunette and a blonde, tomboy-like both of them. The dark one is generous and relaxed; the light one is angry and bitter. One makes friends with strangers and occasions miracles, the other one sees no light and jumps out of the window. This last outcome seems gracefully inescapable. Likewise miracles happen as a result of a certain attitude towards life and nothing else.

I think that's pretty close to how things happen in reality - destiny may be a plot-line that develops one way or another, as if growing from a certain original seed, and you can't mess with that if you don't want to lie and disfigure reality. Suicide as an end to a certain plot is gracefully complete because it is naturally conclusive of that particular plot-line. It is sad but unsurprising. In fact - it is wished for and comes as a relief.

A very good film.




60 Minutes - Clarke's mini-nuclear bomb. Oh wow - a very very angry man. And quite convincing. True pissed-off bitterness. I loved that. And the non-descript guy from the administration who was supposed to disarm this nuke looked like such a lying zero.

Clarke didn't say anything new - I've been hearing all these same arguments for ages now. But the anger! In the political game, it seems that some are trying to pin down all the blame for 9/11 on Clinton's two terms in office; Clarke's statements fall neatly into that line, as a countering device. In a way, everything that may serve to undermine Bush's credibility is a good thing. It's getting really tiring to hear this prez use the word "liberty" to gag any protesting voice.

Some interesting analysis here.

***

Round-up of conservative blogs (not the ultra ones, those are beyond the pale). Outside the Beltway puts his hopes in Condi Rice's response in Washington Post (which also aired on a previous Sunday 60 Minutes, btw); Instapundit also bets on it, with the following proviso:
I'd also like to believe -- as Andrew Sullivan is hoping -- that a Kerry Administration would be more serious about this sort of thing. But so far, "hope" is the operative term.
This is very telling and I have to agree: you can't ditch Iraq now. It's done, it's there, you can't just quit and say it never happened. If you're a true liberal you gotta stop pitching for withdrawal from Iraq - it will only make things worse. The problem is with Mr.Bush - he's a major wrecker and he's gotta go. Not Iraq, you can't undo Iraq. But you can and must undo Bush.

Jesus - may the lefties see the light.

[ Addenda: here's a very good link to some liberal guy who's been trying to support war in Iraq while not supporting Bush - he recanted, by saying that it's an impossible combination since everything Iraq *is* Bush and vice-versa. Via OTB ]

Sunday, March 21, 2004



60 Minutes tonight

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, President Bush ordered his then top anti-terrorism adviser to look for a link between Iraq and the attacks, despite being told there didn't seem to be one. The charge comes from the advisor, Richard Clarke, in an interview airing Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT on 60 Minutes.

I am sure a lot of people will be watching. On the other hand, look at how this so-called "free society" of ours is ruled by corporations. This is exasperating:

His allegations are also made in a book, "Against All Enemies," which is being published Monday by Free Press, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. Both CBSNews.com and Simon & Schuster are units of Viacom.

These *very same* media outlets that so obediently lead the cheer on Iraq when it was required. I don't understand. Who is Viacom, who is CBS News, who *are* these folks?

And btw - get off that Iraq-horse and stop wailing "we've been deceived!". You got so readily deceived because you wanted to believe - you wanted this to be true, so you got your wish. And no laments over the non-existence of WMDs will change that - you never gave a fuck about these supposed "weapons", you wanted to believe and, most glaringly, you still believe that Saddam needed ousting - so what the fuck are you wailing about now?

Who am I talking to? Would that be the CBS-Viacom corporation? Or who would that be, really? :-0

***

Excerpts from that "Now" show on PBS and Hal Holbrook's Mark-Twain number:
MOYERS: There was just the other day, Hal, a confession by a former executive of public television who admitted that he made that decision. That he turned the show down because he deemed it, quote, "too risky and too controversial." Here's what he said.
...
HOLBROOK: Well, when you get into corporate decision-making, especially in these days of political correctness, you are in jail.
Right. As if corporations had logic - they have fear alright.
MOYERS: What is it about Mark Twain that frightens people, even as he makes us laugh?

HOLBROOK: Because he is riding so sharply on the edge of truth. He is balancing right on the edge of truth. And we don't have truth delivered to us very often. Especially in this very commercialized world we live in. Where half-truths are commercialized into truth. And half-lies, which is the other side of half-truth, is commercialized into truth. We live with this, day and day, every day, every time we turn the TV set on. Every time we pass a billboard.

And Mark Twain cuts right straight through that with a knife. And people recognize it. And it scares you a little bit, but there's something exhilarating about it and daring and funny.
Ah well. Is this the age of information wars, or wars *for* information? And guess who's the all-around winner.






Fata volentem ducunt, nolentem trahunt. - Seneca

Quite so.




Very good bit yesterday at Sursum Corda (latin name = catholic blog) on Gospels as opposed to latter-day christianity with its family-values, niceties, coffee cakes et al:
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:25).
This is fundamental. It is also why the current New-Age use of such expressions as "spiritual life" or "spiritual growth" are such over-stated travesties of the actual meaning. There is no comfort in trying to get out of the merely human, mundane condition - it's a harsh jerk and a severance of primal home-bound ties. The world of the spirit is an exile - it's better to stay with the car and the washing machine if you want to be cosy.

It angries me no end that the washing machine should not be enough.





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