John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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JfZ making a mess of the web
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Sunday, August 22, 2004
Masked Thieves Steal Scream

JfZ - An Icon of Angst and Fear
Another theft of pricelsss works today has caused the art world to have a never-ending anxiety attack.  Masked and armed thieves snatched up two Edvard Munch paintings in a brazen daylight robbery of the Munch Museum, in Oslo, while stunned museum visitors stood watching in fear.  The brazen thieves reportedly just held museum guards at bay with hand guns and grabbed the two large 2x3 foot Munch masterpieces, Scream and Madonna.  What worries museum officals and the art world at large is the fact that the thieves reportedly dropped the two large paintings during the robbery, the frames were later found smashed in Oslo, and the priceless Munch works could never be sold anywhere on the planet due to their notariety.

Painted in 1893, both masterpieces would be worth tens of millions of dollars at a legitimate auction.  Strangely, another version of Scream -- Munch painted four -- was stolen from the nearby National Gallery during the Olympic Games by a Munch-obsessed soccer fan.  However, the UK Guardian reports:
Suspicions for yesterday's raid focused immediately upon the perpetrators of a series of armed bank robberies elsewhere in Norway this summer.  They were characterised by careful planning, frequently involving gunmen pushing their way into banks shortly after they opened and before staff had time to get organised.  According to reports, the gang was at times 15-strong and several members appeared to have had military training.

Why anyone would want to steal a painting as well known as Edvard Munch's The Scream is a mystery.  The belief that masterpieces are stolen to order for wealthy private collectors is no longer widely credited.  A ransom demand at some future date seems more likely.

"We're following all possible leads ... but we don't know who did this," Detective Chief Inspector Kjell Pedersen told a news conference yesterday.  One of the thieves spoke in Norwegian during the robbery.
Not only is Scream the most famous Edvard Munch painting, but also has since become a cultural icon used to express angst and fear.  Uk Guardian reporters may more appropiately describe it as "an icon representing humanity's existential alienation," and Adrian Searle can give you a proper art-phag analysis of the work, but I hope you can understand the symbolism from my dumb-ass-bricklayer pixel-monkey image above.

Saturday, August 21, 2004
Dear George Letters

They deserve you

Dear George:

I despise you. As far as I am concerned, you stole the last election and are not a legitimate president.

You took us into a war under false pretenses. Hundreds of young Americans have been killed and thousands of Iraqes. How can you say we are safer? You opened the door to thousands of terrorists.

You do not care about the little people only those in the upper 2% who support you. I deal every day with people who have not health care and are desperate--I actually work for your baby brother who helped you steal the last election.

Personally, I am working hard to defeat you. For the first time I am actually involved in an election--I think it is a matter of this country's survival to defeat you. I look forward to your retirement in Crawford. Having lived in Texas, they deserve you.

Age 66
Sarasota, Florida

I actually stumbled onto this interesting project via an advertisement while researching a future blog entry I wanted to do on India.  I figured since the Bush Administration and his Commerce Department are actively promoting the exportation of Bush World jobs to places like India, I might want to know something about the people with whom I'll be competing to get any available work in the service industry, for example.  I'm too old now to re-enlist in the military and work overseas for Bush World ventures.  Not that being a veteran would help.  Since the Bush World Veteran's Administration is so currently overwhelmed, I'm not able to use any VA Benefits anyway.  Maybe I can be buried in a veteran's cemetary if I lose it and drive my electric scooter into the path of a speeding citrus semi-truck rumbling down the road out front.  I imagine even there, space is becoming filled up.

Anyway, the Dear George Letters are the bright idea of Marcus Woollen of West 50th Street Productions in New York.  There was such an overwhelming response to the project, they are now limited to selecting some letters and posting them on their BlogSpot site.

There are pro-Bush and anti-Bush letters posted on the site.  Here are some of my favorites, some not for obvious reasons, recently posted in August:

What happened to my tax cut?

World of Trouble

God doesn't take sides

Results do matter

If I were to sit down, think, and write a letter to George, I think it could sound similar to this, but would end up sounding like this.

Friday, August 20, 2004
Split Ticket Issues?

The infamous Hanging Chad man
As a Libertarian for many years now, I have voted across political party lines or 'split my ticket' in elections based upon issues that are of concern to me personally.  More often than not, those issues are related to our U.S. Bill of Rights or basic constitutional principles: Free Expression versus Censorship, Seperation of Church and State, The Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RTKBA), Privacy, and State's Rights.  Voters with strong beliefs on a particular issue, while not going so far as to vote for an independent candidate outside the predominately Democratic and Republican political parties' stronghold on modern politics, will sometimes 'cross party lines' when they feel strongly enough on an issue.

Other times, people vote for candidates that espouse a belief that they share on broader topics, like the state of the economy, environmental issues, or foreign policy.  An even less specific description in our current two party political world might simply be liberal and conservative.

I wanted to follow up on a blog entry from last month, Dukesville - 2nd Amendment, because the dynamic graphic image I put in it and also on Dukesville tells us there is a only 4 weeks left until the Assault Weapons Ban Sunset occurs.  One of the reasons I made that entry into a link list was just in case the AWBsunset site folds up shop and goes offline, after the particulars of this RTKBA issue are no longer around.  That would be a shame as that site has a lot of useful info easily available to visitors.

Here's the current state of gun control in politics (in a nutshell), found on AWBsunset:
After the Democrat's stunning defeat in the 1994 elections following the passing of the "assault weapons" ban, the party began to rethink their strong anti-gun stance. Though the issue of gun control once was an effective campaign issue for the Democratic Party, it has fallen out of favor over the past several years.  After Al Gore's defeat in 2000, largely due to his anti-gun positions, Democrats have practically abandoned the issue altogether.
Personally, in 2000, I was interested how union members in the Detroit area who continually rattled on about being died-in-the-wool Democrats freaked out on the RTKBA issue and abandoned Al Gore.  Almost to a man, my fellow bricklayers were deer hunters.  While not a deer hunter myself, working daily in the some of the worst neighborhoods in Detroit where square mile automotive factories sit across the street from crime-ridden neighborhoods might make you think twice about the right to keep and bear arms, too.  The Democrats really stepped on their dick with that one, in 2000.

When I looked at the likely position House of Representatives members might take on the RTKBA issue, it is mostly split along Democratic and Republican lines.  What is curious to me, then, is when it is not neatly going down party lines -- when a Democrat is pro-gun and a Republican is not.

For example, when I looked at Michigan I found two pro-gun Democrats and when I looked at Florida I found two gun-control Republicans.  Why?  After some quick digging, it's easy to see.  In Michigan, Bart Stupak, 1st district, and John Dingell, 15th district, both represent pro-hunting areas. Stupak's district is huge, encompassing the entire U.P. and the NE region of the lower penninsula.

In Florida, then, why would a Republican be a gun control advocate?  Bill Young in the 10th district and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen in the 18th district are.  Both of these Republicans' districts are small and urban.  Young in Tampa, and Ros-Lehtinen in Miami.  It seems the RTKBA issue is first a traditional stance for a political party and then an urban/rural issue.

AWBsunset's Bottom Line:
If a replacement ban were voted on in the Senate, there is a good chance it would pass (if ban supporters were able to get it to the floor for a vote).  If it reached the President's desk, he would probably sign it. In the House of Representatives, however, the ban has a much tougher road ahead, and this is where our best chances for success are.  For an in-depth illustration of these factors, take a look at our AW Ban Scoreboard.

Republicans generally are pro-gun rights, so we can assume that the leadership in the House will not go out of their way to bring a renewal or replacement bill to the floor unless incredible pressure is brought to bear.  Because regaining control of Congress will be a top priority for Democrats in 2004, and they are no doubt acutely aware of the blow dealt to them in the past on this issue, they may not want to risk pushing for a renewal.

This would be a best-case scenario for us... majority party has no interest in the issue, minority party is afraid of it. Neither wants it to come up and force them to publicly take a position on it. Both would prefer that it simply be ignored, and remain bottled up in some dungeon committee.  The real bottom line is this: the more intelligently written, reasonable sounding letters our congressmen receive from us, the greater the chance the above will happen.

They have hit the nail on the head. I searched, and searched, and found nothing about any RTKBA issue on the four representatives' official web sites.  Perhaps, if this is a non-issue this election year, that is a good thing for the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

What are the issues that would cause you to vote a 'split ticket' if your favored political party candidate expressed a view contrary to your own?

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Republican Evangelical Christians Embrace Kerry Presidency

Republicans for Kerry
This headline came across my Thunderstorms PRWeb political news feed today, "Republican Evangelical Christians Embrace Kerry Presidency" which is related to recently discussed topics.

Republican Evangelical Christians who have witnessed the decline of the public education system, the environment and the economy turn to John Kerry realizing that George Bush is using his faith as a wedge.

Sterling Heights, Michigan (PRWEB) August 19, 2004 -- Members of the ‘Christian Right’ resist the Bush campaign to politicize their faith and turn to vote for Kerry. Recently the Bush campaign called on evangelical churches to turn their members into political activists – church members like Dan and Julie Rakowski. Both Dan and Julie have been members of a nationwide grassroots organization “Republicans for Kerry ‘04” since this spring. “In many ways, I am typical of the ‘Christian Right’ you often hear about,” Dan said. “I’m passionately pro-life, moderately against gay-marriage, and pro-Second Amendment.” During the past four years, Dan and his family have witnessed the decline of the public education system, the environment and the economy. Dan regards the Bush campaign’s attempt to draft congregations into political service during this campaign season as an attempt to use the faith of theologically conservative Christians as a wedge. “If he keeps talking about social issues like homosexuality and abortion,” Rakowski observed, “Bush hopes we will look the other way with respect to his missteps of Iraq War, economy and education.”

The measure by which a Christian should judge a candidate is to see if the walk matches the talk,” suggested Carmen Smith, a Cuban immigrant, lifelong Republican, and Christian for 40 years, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Environment is a key issue for her decision to support John Kerry. “As a Christian Republican I value being a good steward of God’s earth, which means taking care of the precious and fragile resources such as air, water and soil. Our President needs to be responsible enough to make this a top priority.” Citing Bush’s “misuse of his authority in this area, over the last four years,” Smith concluded, “I have more trust in John Kerry to do this job right.”

John Bugay, a writer who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a registered Republican and a conservative Presbyterian. He has been a strong John Kerry supporter since early this year, creating the first “Republicans for Kerry” website. In the GOP call on church congregations to become part of the Bush campaign, Bugay writes, “ … Bush is not appealing to our better natures, but to our worst fears. We ought not to give in to that type of fear. Many conservative Christians can already say ‘Bush has governed badly and doesn’t deserve another chance.’ At the very least, then John Kerry deserves an honest look by honest Christians.”

Brenda Farrell from Southlake Texas agrees. Calling herself “an old-time Republican”, Farrell worked in a Republican administration during the Reagan years. A Christian and an advocate of the separation of Church and State, she asks that her fellow Republicans and Christians, “not be lured by tangential emotionally-charged issues [such as gay marriage, abortion, etc. that will remain unresolved for a long time. They are brought up to rile up conservative voters who this administration thinks are too blind to identify the real issues that face this country.”

Blog the Vote!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
FOR Peace Organization Links

MLK Jr: Non-Violent Protester

FOR's Vision: We envision a world of justice, peace, and freedom. It is a revolutionary vision of a beloved community where differences are respected, conflicts are addressed nonviolently, oppressive structures are dismantled, and where people live in harmony with the earth, nurtured by diverse spiritual traditions that foster compassion, solidarity, and reconciliation.

FOR's Mission: FOR seeks to replace violence, war, racism, and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace, and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally.

Since 1915, The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) has carried on programs and educational projects concerned with domestic and international peace and justice, nonviolent alternatives to conflict, and the rights of conscience. A Nonviolent, Interfaith, tax exempt organization, The FOR promotes nonviolence and has members from many religious and ethnic traditions. It is a part of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), which has affiliates in over 40 countries.

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation

FOR Religious Fellowships:

Baptist Peace Fellowship
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Catholic Peace Fellowship
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Jewish Peace Fellowship
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
Muslim Peace Fellowship
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

FOR Local Groups and Affiliates:

Charlotte, NC FOR
Minnesota Fellowship of Reconciliation
Olympia, WA FOR
Western Washington FOR

Decade of Peace and Nonviolence:

IFOR's Culture of Nonviolence Page

Internship and Volunteer Search Sites:

Campus Access
Voluntarios Solidarios

Other Peace Link Sites: - A Progressive Portal

Middle East Peace Organizations

See FOR Middle East Links Page
Electronic Iraq
Palestinians and Israelis for Nonviolence

Online Magazines

American Prospect magazine
Common Dreams Newscenter
Mother Jones magazine
The Nation magazine
Now Age Press
People's Weekly World
Sojourners magazine
Yes! Magazine
Z magazine
The Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace:
Mahatma Gandhi Research and Media Service:

Peace Organizations
A.J. Muste Memorial Institute
U.S. Campaign To Stop The Use of Child Soldiers
Cities for Peace
CONTACT - Conflict Transformation Across Cultures
Culture of Peace News Network
National Network to End the War Against Iraq (NNEWAI)
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
Global Coalition for Peace
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
Holy Land Trust
Light a Candle for Peace
Lutheran Peace Fellowship
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
New Internationalist Magazine
New Society Educational Foundation
Nonviolent Peaceforce
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
IFCO/Pastors for Peace
Institute for Public Accuracy
Pax Christi USA
Peaceful Tomorrows
Reaching Critical Will
Sojourners Magazine
The Way Home - Stories of Forgiveness
Training for Change
Traprock Peace Center
U.S. Campaign to Free Mordechai Vanunu
U.S. Institute of Peace
Veterans Against the Iraq War
War Resisters League
World Conference on Religion and Peace
World Peacemakers
Peace Brigades International
SIPAZ, Service for Peace
United for Peace
Veterans for Peace

Blog the Vote!

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