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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Sunday, August 27, 2006
Sunday Funnies: Hurricane Katrina

click for more Stuart Carlson comics

Once again this week, Stuart Carlson boils down another national political issue into a concise editorial cartoon.  With the troubling Hurricane Katrina anniversary, the celebratory Rovian spinmeisters are staging events all this week to repair the damage to the Bush administration's image.  Some political observers note that the dismal Bushworld response to hurricane Katrina was a major cause of the freefall of Bush's job approval ratings in public opinion polls.

Knowing this, an advance team of GOP public relations experts has hand-picked the venues and even the people in attendance at those presidential appearances in which the president will read from artfully-crafted speeches and seem folksie, grateful, and optimistic.  These are the videobytes that will be played over and over on local TV news, manufacturing consent, until the next grim anniversary arrives on September 11th.

There has been some progess in the Gulf states hit by Katrina in the last year, but there is still much to be desired by hundreds of thousands of affected residents.  Don't expect Dubya to get too specific about the shortfalls reporting fair and balanced news isn't part of his job description.  Instead, expect the president to speak of a few individuals that support his administration doing everything right in the face of adversity.  Perhaps historians will comment how truth evades this administration someday in the future.

Now, personally, having dealt with three hurricanes in 2004, I blogged about hurricane Katrina quite a bit in 2005.  I've re-read those entries.  While I explored the blame game, you may be surprised to know that I didn't completely bash Bush the entire time.  I even gave him credit for doing some things correctly.  Read those past hurricane Katrina entries for yourself.

I do have a few more political observations to make concerning this, but I think I shall save them for later this week, after my immediate concerns about Tropical Storm/Hurricane Ernesto has passed.  In the meantime, check out one of the latest flash videos about Katrina from Ava Lowery, the 15-year-old peace activist.

[Headphones] :: Hurricane Jeanne is Gone! [Download] by JfZ



Friday, August 25, 2006
Phriday Night Phreeks

Phriday Night Phreeks
sponsored by

How our Blogdrive friend, Sinja, gets battle ready

A typical letter found in the inbox of G-funk, I mean G-Stef

Dedicated to the all-time number one Phriday Night Phreek -- Jessica

[Headphones] :: Jessica: Pleasure Club Mix [Download] [Lo-Fi Stream] by JfZ


Thursday, August 24, 2006
NASA: Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch this upcoming Sunday at 4:30 pm EDT from pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  The STS-115 crew consists of (front) Pilot Christopher J. Ferguson, Commander Brent W. Jett Jr. and (back) Mission Specialists Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, Joseph R. Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank and Steven G. MacLean, who represents the Canadian Space Agency.

Click on the STS-115 crew member's name (above) to read their pre-flight interviews.  There are some candid photos of the astronauts taken during their training.  The astronauts describe their motivation to become an astronaut, and their background, hometown, and early education.  They also explain their individual mission objectives and why they feel space exploration is important.

The previous shuttle mission, STS-121, launched on July 4th with Discovery and was dubbed "Return to Flight."  If I had to coin a phrase for STS-115, I would go with "Return to Construction" because this is the first mission since the Columbia accident 2 years ago that will resume the construction of the International Space Station.

The Atlantis shuttle payload includes the 17-ton P3/P4 truss segments with solar panel arrays that will double the power available for the ISS.  The 6 Atlantis crew members will meet up with the 3-man ISS crew during their 11-day mission.  The nine astronauts on ISS will represent Russia, Germany, and Canada in addition to the six Americans.

All nine astronauts will be extremely busy while on the ISS.  Three EVAs or space walks are scheduled, each with two astronauts each.  During these space walks, other astronauts will be operating the shuttle and station robotic arms in order to move the massive truss segments from the shuttle to their place on station.  Once the trusses are securely in place, a dramatic deployment of the solar arrays will occur, spreading outwards almost 240 feet.

The next two years will be a very busy and intense construction schedule for the International Space Station and every space agency around the world, in part making up for lost time.  People interested in space exploration, science and even international cooperation will have much to see and observe as the ISS moves toward completion.

Watch the Atlantis launch on the web via Nasa TV.  That's what I'm doing.

[Headphones] :: Space Station Soma [lo-fi] - SomaFM

Comics are where super heroes, like astronauts, are first created.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006
U.S. Islamophobia

"You shouldn't believe what I say is true. Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It's something you have to find out for yourself." -- Noam Chomsky

"I think we'd all be better off turning off the television once in a while, abstaining from the fast-food media propaganda being shovelled into our brains for a day or so, and taking that time to get to know someone better." -- John Furie Zacharias

Earlier this month, I got very riled up over the fear-mongering and paranoia being spread in the U.S. by the Bush administration.  There has been a clear and established pattern of using fear and propaganda for political purposes by this administration in the past.  With the upcoming elections drawing nearer every day, president Bush recently advised his fellow Republicons, "If I were facing an election, I would stress the economy and security."

While Frank Rich may think that our fellow citizens are finally wise to this Rovian game and won't have it any longer stating, "the era of Americans' fearing fear itself is over" I'm not entirely convinced this is true.  Furthermore, the trickle-down effect I complained about doesn't seem to be stopping by any means.

Local Police

Take the specific and recent example concerning the two Dearborn college students, Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, being charged with terrorist-related felony crimes in Ohio.  I said, "The specific facts about these college students will likely be that they were trying to make some Summer cash," despite the widespread media fear-mongering and outright racist hate speech by Michelle Malkin and Debbie Schlussel on their well-funded uber-blogs.

The Detroit Free Press newspaper, aka The Freep, reported several days later that the charges had been dropped for lack of evidence and the two had been released to go home to their families.  I strongly encourage you to read this Freep article now, "Terror case has ended, but stigma remains," because older stories are taken offline and placed into a per-per-view archive.

Do you remember "Driving while Black?"  The real stigma about which the Freep insuates is being an Arab or Muslim in the U.S. and therefore, branded a terrorist.  One of the college students, Osama Abulhasan summed it up this way on the day of his release from the Ohio jail:

We were both born here in the United States. We are truly Americans in every sense and we are proud of our heritage.

I'm only asking that we be afforded the same rights and protections as our fellow Americans. There is no justification for treating us as second class citizens.

There seemed to be no presumption of innocence regarding the baseless charges that were brought forth. We were nowhere near being placed on trial, yet we were so readily associated with guilt and wrongdoing. Our reputations were tarnished, our names blackened and our families left to suffer without any justification.

I would hope that police, prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies exhibit a higher sense of responsibility in carrying out the crucial functions that they serve.

I would also hope that the media [would be] more responsible when reporting occurrences such as this one. Instead of sensationalizing these events and causing fear and mass hysteria, the media should be more vigilant and careful when reporting the news.

If you wish to understand some of the growing disappointment and anguish the Arab and Muslim populations are continuing to face, you need only imagine yourself in their place.  Pretend for a minute that you are one of the college students.  To add to the injury of being tossed into jail, you have to live with the hateful insults from the likes of Michelle Malkin and Debbie Schlussel.  Googling your own name places these two hateful bigots at the top of the search results.

Airport Security

Unfortunately, neither the U.S. media nor law enforcement has an exactly stellar record in responsibility lately.  From the very top of the federal government down to the state and local level, and even down to the private security personnel, an atmosphere of paranoia is pervasive.

Take the example of Raed Jarrar.  When I first blogged about Raed Jarrar, two years ago, he was trying to tell people what was going on in the war-torn streets of Baghdad when the media failed to do it.  He has since put his architecture studies on hold, moved to the United States, and is working as a peace activist as the Iraq Project Director for Global Exchange.

Yesterday, he gave an interview to Democracy Now describing how he was harassed and stopped from boarding his airline flight for simply wearing a T-shirt that said "We will not be silent" in English and Arabic.  Airport personnel told him that wearing a shirt with Arabic letters was like wearing a T-shirt that said, "I am a robber" into a bank.

Is this the kind of country we want to live in -- falling prey to fear and paranoia?

Read his blog entry, or watch the Democracy Now interview. [video/transcript]

[Headphones] :: They March and They Sing - Louisiana Red

You could always put your back-to-school troubles in a new bag.


Monday, August 21, 2006
Marcus Monday

Marcus Annius Verus, known to history as the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, was born at Rome in the year 121 AD.  He wrote some of his own philosophical and personal thoughts about his life and his world in a private collection of his journals called, Meditations.  More than 1800 years later, I decided to turn his personal thoughts into a blog that I named Verissimus, meaning Most True.  I'm no expert in philosophy, ancient studies, or classical literature.  Yet, the act of transcribing his Meditations into a blog has created an interest, a fondness and some respect for him in me.  He is now long dead, but perhaps still speaks to us.

Generally speaking, Meditations - Book I, is where Marcus gives thanks to various people in his life and the reasons why he feels they helped him.  If you were to follow his example in your blog, who would you thank right now and why?

For example: In Meditations I-5, Marcus says:

From my governor, to be niether of the green nor of the blue party at the games in the Circus, nor a partizan either of the Parmularius or the Scutarius at the gladiators' fights; from him too I learned endurance of labour, and to want little, and to work with my own hands, and not to meddle with other people's affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander.

Here is my attempt to put that advice into a modern-day perspective:

  • Don't be a partisan Democrat or a Republican. (I'm not a registered member of either party)
  • Don't be from a red state or blue state, in politics.  (I honestly feel more like a resident of the net than I do of any geographical location)
  • Work hard at your own tasks.  (I try)
  • Be happy with what you have.  (I try)
  • Mind your own business and forge ahead with your own future.  (I try, but some things get me riled up)
  • Don't listen to gossip and lies.  (I don't watch Faux News)

What do you think Marcus meant 1800 years ago?  How might this apply to you now?

[Headphones] :: Illinois Street Lounge [lo-fi] - SomaFM

Comics are where superheroes have real lives.


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