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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fortune
Magazine Subscription
How I'd Fix the World Bank
Advice for the new chief: Roll up your sleeves and plant some seeds. What hungry Africa needs is action, not ideology.
By Jeffrey Sachs
July 9/07


Quote:
More on Sachs and his excellent work at the PokerPulse Gambler's Guide to International Trade.





Quote:
The scandal-ridden departure of Paul Wolfowitz (see Law.com May 16/07 post by Amy Kolz) from the World Bank doesn't end its crisis. The trouble runs deeper. It goes to the core of the bank's mission to cut extreme poverty, hunger, and disease. In the earth's poverty hot spot, sub-Saharan Africa, the bank's approach is failing. Just when the world has ramped up its verbal commnitments to fight Africa's misery, the world's confidence in the bank is at low ebb. Despite endless talk, counteless "missions" by bank staffers, and expensive studies, the bank has accomplished little in Africa for 20 years. Africans know it, and so do the bank's financial backers in the U.S. and Europe. Africa will be the bank's test under incoming President Robert Zoellick. If it fails there, not only Africa but the bank will be in mortal peril.

...

When poor American farmers lacked electricity, the U.S. established the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935 to provide low-cost credits to bring electricity to the countryside. When India needed a Green Revolution in the 1960s, the Rockefeller Foundation brought high-yield seeds, and the U.S. government shipped massive amounts of fertilizer. When China's countryside needed roads and electricity, the Chinese government, not the private market, did the job, and the World Bank helped with financing. Yet when it comes to Africa, according to Washington's free-market ideologues, all those wonderful things are supposed to spring up by themselves, with markets coming to the rescue. And when those things don't arrive, since there is no way to pay them, African governments are blamed for corruption. As any junior IMF staffer could tell the bank in a heartbeat, the African governments do not have the fiscal means to invest in what is needed, and that would be true even if Mother Teresa were running the local treasury. (-- p. 41)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Summer Lightning
Paperback
By P.G. Wodehouse


Quote:
More of Gally and his dreaded memoirs at The Will to Win.





Quote:
'He (pink Ronnie Fish) bounced tennis-balls on my pig!'

'Do you mean to tell me,' he said sternly, 'that all this fuss, ruining my morning's work, was simply about that blasted pig of yours?'

'I refuse to allow you to call the Empress a blasted pig! Good heavens!' cried Lord Emsworth passionately. Can none of my family appreciate the fact that she is the most remarkable animal in Great Britain? No pig in the whole annals of the Shropshire Agricultural Show has ever won the silver medal two years in succession. And that, if only people will leave her alone and refrain from incessantly pelting her with tennis balls, is what the Empress is quite certain to do. It is an unheard of feat.'

The Hon. Gallahad frwoned. He shook his head reprovingly. It was all very well, he felt, a stable being optimistic about its nominee, but he was a man who could face facts. In a long and chequered life he had seen so many good things unstuck. Besides, he had his superstitions, and one of them was that counting your chickens in advance brought bad luck.

'Don't you be too cocksure, my boy,' he said gravely. 'I looked in at the Emsworth Arms the other day for a glass of beer, and there was a fellow in there offering three to one on an animal called Pride of Matchingham. Offering it freely. Tall, red-haired fellow with a squint. Slightly bottled.'

'Pride of Matchingham belongs to Sir Gregory Parsloe,' he said, 'and I have no doubt that the man offering such ridiculous odds was his pig-man, Wellbeloved. As you know, the fellow used to be in my employment, but Parsloe lured him away from me by the promise of higher wages.' Lord Emsworth's expression had now become positively ferocious. 'The thought of George Cyril Wellbeloved, that perjured pig-man, always made the iron enter into his soul. 'It was a most abominable thing to do.'

The Hon. Galahad whistled.

'So that's it, is it? Parsloe's pig man going about offering three to one- against the form-book, I take it?'

'Most decidedly. Pride of Matchingham was awarded second prize last year, but it is quite an inferior animal to the Empress.'

'Then you look after that pig of yours, Clarence.' The Hon. Galahad spoke earnestly. 'I see what this means. Parsloe's up to his old games, and intends to queer the Empress somehow.'

'Queer her?'

'Nobble her. Or, if he can't do that, steal her.'

'You don't mean it.'

'I do mean it. The man's as slippery as a greased eel. He would nobble his grandmother if it suited his book. Let me tell you I've known young Parsloe for thirty years and I solemnly state that if his grandmother was entered in a competition for fat pigs and his commitments made it desirable for him to get her out of the way, he would dope her branmash and acorns without a moment's hesitation.'

'God bless my soul!' said Lord Emsworth, deeply impressed.

'Let me tell you a little story about young Parsloe. One or two of us used to meet at the Black Footman in Gossiter Street in the old days - they've pulled it down now - and match our dogs against rats in the room behind the bar. Well, I put my Towser, and admirable beast, up against young Parsloe's Banjo on one occasion for a hundred pounds a side. And when the night came and he was shown the rats, I'm dashed if he didn't just give a long yawn and roll over and go to sleep. I whistled him...called him...Towser, Towser...No good...Fast asleep. And my firm belief has always been that young Parsloe took him aside just before the contest was to start and gave him about six pounds of steak and onions. Couldn't prove anything, of course, but I sniffed the dog's breath and it was like opening the kitchen door of a Soho chophouse on a summer night. That's the sort of man young Parsloe is.'

'Galahad!'

'Fact. You'll find the story in *my book.' (From Chapter 3, The Sensational Theft of a Pig, at pgs. 65-67)


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Audio CD
Featuring Bob Dylan's Dream
A young Judy Collins gives it a
try at Youtube.com




Quote:
Bob Dylan's Dream

While riding on a train goin' west,
I fell asleep for to take my rest.
I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
Where we together weathered many a storm,
Laughin' and singin' till the early hours of the morn.

By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
Our words were told, our songs were sung,
Where we longed for nothin' and were quite satisfied
Talkin' and a-jokin' about the world outside.

With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
We never thought we could ever get old.
We thought we could sit forever in fun
But our chances really was a million to one.

As easy it was to tell black from white,
It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
And our choices were few and the thought never hit
That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.

How many a year has passed and gone,
And many a gamble has been lost and won,
And many a road taken by many a friend,
And each one I've never seen again.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
That we could sit simply in that room again.
Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Loaded Dice:

Quote:
View the unconscionable hurdles Iraq vets face in obtaining disability benefits.

More on the fallout from America's $3 TRILLION-dollar war in Iraq.

More on the over-stretched SSA disability benefits scheme in the U.S. and the shocking state-by-state variations in its application.



BEAT the odds by reading these useful tips from a New Jersey veterans claims attorney, a former soldier himself:

Quote:
Things That You Can Do To Help Improve Patient Safety At A VA Hospital

1. Make sure that everyone at the VA knows who you are:

As simple as this seems, it is extremely important to make sure that every person who comes in contact with you, knows who you are and what you were there for. The Veterans Administration's own records show that each year the Veterans Administration performs the wrong operation, on about a dozen veterans, because they thought that they were operating on veteran Smith, when in fact someone had brought veteran Jones to the operating room.

2. Make sure that you get the right medication:

The bar coded prescription system reduces, but does not prevent all medication errors. Even with the current state-of-the-art computerized bar coded prescription control system, a recent study at a Veterans Administration hospital showed, that one out of every four veterans, hospitalized had at least one serious medication error. Make sure that you know what medications your doctor has prescribed and make sure that you receive the correct medication.

3. Make sure that anyone that touches you has washed their hands with soap or antiseptic detergent.

Your mother was right, simply washing your hands goes a long way to preventing the spread of disease in hospitals. The VA's own studies have shown that many health-care providers simply do not follow this basic hygienic practice. Various Veterans Administrations studies have shown that between 40% and 80% of the time, health care workers properly wash their hands. This means that between 20% to nearly 60% of the times, hands are not washed properly. Frequently the Veterans Administration office of Inspector General inspections find that VA Hospitals simply do not have soap available for the employees to use in restrooms and the Philadelphia VA hospital, in 2005, dentists were not changing their surgical gowns between patients, in violation of the VA's policy.. If you see in unsanitary practice, don't be afraid to speak up.

4. Make sure that you understand when your next appointment is supposed to take place.

When a doctor prescribes another study, such as x-rays, lab work or MRIs, or refers you to a specialist make sure that you understand when the doctor wants the test conducted by, or when he expects that you will see the specialist. Each year many veterans fail to get timely follow up care, and this delay in treatment adversely affects their outcome. What this means, is that the first doctor that the veteran saw at the VA ordered the right test, or made the right referral. Unfortunately, the veteran’s request or referral, got lost in the system, and the test, or referral, did not take place until was too late.

What should have been simple to cure, when it was first suspected, has now becomes difficult, or incurable as a result of a delay caused by the VA’s bureaucracy. Scheduling delays can occasionally result in disaster to the veteran. If your doctor says that you should be seen by specialist “at the next available appointment”, find out what that means. Sometimes, the doctor’s definition of “next available” may be different than the scheduling clerk’s. If the doctor thinks that you should be seen next week, and the scheduler thinks that you should be seen within three months, it could affect your health. Make sure that the doctor gives you a time frame for when the test should be completed and that you find out what the outcome of the test was.

5. Check your medical records for inaccuracies:

Periodically you should check your medical records to make sure that no inaccurate information has crept into them. Virtually all Veterans Administration medical records are now computerized, while this has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages. Once after an error has crept into your record, it becomes easy for it to be repeated throughout your entire record through the practice of "cut and paste" entries by medical providers. This is a practice of copying the prior entries from your medical record, into the current entry. This allows this incorrect information to be repeated and included as part of your record over and over, and eventually taken for accurate by subsequent medical care providers, who do not take the time to read your entire medical history.

For example, the length of time that you of had symptoms or disease, can be extremely important to your physicians. If you up in diabetic for 10 years, that is something that your physician should know about. Unfortunately, if the clerk types 10 days, instead of 10 years, that entry can easily be repeated by the next clerk or physician. If you spot errors in your records you should tell your doctor's about them and request that they be corrected.

6. Report unsatisfactory conditions to the Veterans Administration and to your Congressman

If you see an unsatisfactory situation or are the subject of a medical error, report it to the Veteran’s Administration Office of Inspector General, the Veteran’s Administration’s Office of Patient Safety and your Congressman. The Veterans Administration and its medical providers tend not to be concerned about being sued for medical malpractice. The law protects individual VA healthcare providers from being named in law suits for medical errors. Veterans may only sue the United States and not the individual doctor who committed the medical error.

While many veterans understand that the lack of personal accountability on the part of medical providers, is part of the package of benefits that allows the VA to attract doctors, few people realize that medical malpractice cases rarely result in any financial loss to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Often veterans are pressured to not file claims against the VA, because their doctor tells them “..if you file a claim, we will have to cut services to other veterans…” This is simply not true. All medical malpractice cases that result in a payment of more than $2,500 are paid for by the Department of the Treasury out of the “Judgment Fund”. These payments do not affect the VA’s budget, and do not reduce the funding available to provide medical care to veterans, nor do they reduce the amount of funding that is available for VA executive’s compensation and travel. The reason why some health care providers do not want veterans to file claims for medical errors, is that if a doctor is determined to be negligent and a payment is made, the doctor is reported to the National Practitioner’s Data Bank. This is a data bank of information on health care providers who have had claim successfully made against them, had their licenses suspended, been disciplined by a medical authority, or had other patient safety issues. This data bank is not available to the public. It is a confidential source that is used by hospitals and state medical authorities to determine whether or not to grant privileges to a doctor. It was established so that doctors with bad records in one state, could not relocate to another state, and start with a clean slate. VA doctors, who are planning to leave the VA for private practice, are concerned about being reported to this data bank, because other hospitals may decided not to hire a doctor with an extensive record of claims.

The only thing that can directly affect a VA health care provider is VA management. Local VA management is directly affected by VA management that is higher than they are, in the VA’s chain of command. The VA is concerned about its budget. Congress controls the VA’s budget. If your Congressman is concerned about the level of patient care that is being provided at your local VA hospital, then the VA will be concerned about it. Contacting your congressman is often a way to get the VA to investigate the medical care that you have received, and make sure that your congressmen realizes that you are not satisfied with the level of medical care that you have been provided with.

The VA’s OIG and Center for Patient Safety investigate medical errors at the VA. If you report a medical error to them, it may be reviewed by someone who is outside of the local VA’s chain of command, and is more interested in dealing with what happened, so that it won’t happen to another veteran, instead of covering it up at the local level Reporting medical errors directly to your Congressman, the VA Office of Inspector General.


Harper's
Magazine Subscription
AWOL in America:
When Desertion is the Only Option
By Kathy Dobie
March, 2005


Quote:
More at the Iraq War Veterans Organization, Inc..

Help! I want OUT of the military!





Returning to civilian life how-tos:

Quote:
The GI Rights Hotline
(800) 394-9544
(215) 563-4620
Fax (510) 465-2459
Mailing Address:
405 14th Street Suite 205
Oakland, CA 94612
girights@objector.org
http://girights.objector.org


The Nation
Magazine Subscription
About Face: Soldiers Call for Iraq Withdrawal
By Marc Cooper
Posted online Dec. 16/06




Quote:
For the first time since Vietnam, an organized, robust movement of active-duty US military personnel has publicly surfaced to oppose a war in which they are serving. Those involved plan to petition Congress to withdraw American troops from Iraq. (Note: A complete version of this report will appear Thursday in the print and online editions of The Nation.)

After appearing only seven weeks ago on the Internet, the Appeal for Redress, brainchild of 29-year-old Navy seaman Jonathan Hutto, has already been signed by nearly 1,000 US soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, including dozens of officers--most of whom are on active duty. Not since 1969, when some 1,300 active-duty military personnel signed an open letter in the New York Times opposing the war in Vietnam, has there been such a dramatic barometer of rising military dissent.

Interviews with two dozen signers of the Appeal reveal a mix of motives for opposing the war: ideological, practical, strategic and moral. But all those interviewed agree that it is time to start withdrawing the troops. Coming from an all-volunteer military, the Appeal was called "unprecedented" by Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice.


Now, compare U.S. treatment of vets above with the British response:

COUNTRY LIFE
Magazine Subscription
Bryn Parry
Cartoonist turned war heroes' champion

Nov. 29/07


Quote:
More on UK war vets and a recent rating of the odds against the U.S. anti-terrorist gamble.





Quote:
Bryn Parry is best known as the creator of Mrs Aga, Wocker Cocker and other cuddly countryside caricatures that adorn aprons, mugs and mouse mats. But he hasn't picked up a paintbrush since July, when his life was turned upside down by Help for Heroes, the charity he founded with his wife, Emma. In eight dizzying weeks, they have raised £1 million twards a swimming pool and gym at Headley Court, Surrey, the services' rehabilitation centre. The Big Battlefield Bike Ride is over-subscribed, footballer Ronaldo and Jeremy Clarkson sport Help for Heroes wristbands, and The Sun, businesses and the public have weighed in, as has COUNTRY LIFE. Plans include the Great British Hero Ride from Blackheath to the Cenotaph on June 1, and even a national pub quiz.

... 'In between squirting Champagne at the (Macmillan Cancer cycling fundraiser) finish, Emma suggested: "Why don't we do something ourselves, for the wounded?" The trigger was a visit to Selly Oak Hospital, and a ward with 40 young soldiers lying on top of their sheets, their stumps and shrapnel wounds exposed.

'I defy anyone not to have been moved. The men were so determined and modest. They have been in a place where want to kill them in a war of which everyone disapproves. The least we can do is look after them when they come home.'

The Parrys' only son, Tom, 22, passes out of Sandhurst next summer. His mother dreads it, 'but it's in his genes.' Bryn Parry's father, a colonel in the Gurkhas, was killed on exercise in Germany. Bryn joined the Green Jackets, with the idea of being a war artist - 'in the style of Terence Cuneo.' He caricatured fellow soldiers, selling the results for a fiver, and produced the regiment's Christmas card, turning 50 into limited edition prints. (-- p. 80)


PokerPulse would be pleased to post links to similar campaigns on behalf of soldiers. Please send any we've missed to legal@pokerpulse.com.

Quote:
Note: The amount raised was listed at £3 million when we checked Parry's website March 4/08.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanity Fair
Magazine Subscription
MacArthur's Grand Delusion
In 1950, General Douglas MacArthur was hell-bent on chasing the retreating North Koreans to the Chinese border. Nothing would stop him - not orders from Washington, not intelligence reports that Mao's troops were building up in the area. Which is how hundreds of Americans got slaughtered at Unsan, one of the worst defeats of the Korean War. In an excerpt from his new, and *final, book, David Halberstam weaves the tale of hubris, deception, and death.
October, 2007




Quote:
... The mood in general among the American troops in Pyongyang just then was a combination of optimism and sheer exhaustion, emotional as well as physical. The Korean War had begun in June, when Soviet-allied North Korea invaded American -allied South Korea. The Communists wanted to re-unite the country, partitioned since the Japanese surrender, under North Korean priminister Kim Il Sung. During the first phase of the war, they had gained victory after victory over weak and ill-prepared American and South Korean forces. But then more and better American troops arrived, and in September, MacArthur had pulled off a brilliant stroke at Inchon, landing his forces behind the North Korean lines to retake the South Korean capital of Seoul. With that, the North Korean forces had unraveled. That had been a great success for MacArthur, perhaps the greatest triumph of a storied career, all the more so because he had pulled it off against the opposition of much of Washington.

Now (October, 1950) betting pools were being set up among the soldiers in Pyongyang on when they would ship out. For some of the newest men, the replacements, who had only heard tales about how hard the fighting had been from the Pusan Perimeter, in southeast Korea, to Pyongyang, there was relief that the worst of it was past. A young lieutenant named Ben Boyd, from Claremore, Oklahoma, who had joined the Cav (U.S. First Cavalry Division) in Pyongyang, was given a platoon in Baker Company of the First Battalion. Boyd, who had graduated from West Point only four years before, wanted this command badly, but he was made nervous by its recent history. "Lieutenant, do you know who you are in this platoon?" one of the senior officers had asked. No, Boyd answered. "Well, Leiutenant, just so you don't get too cocky, you're the 13th platton leader this unit has had since it's been in Korea." Boyd suddenly decided he didn't feel cocky at all. (-- p. 364)


Quote:
... In the internal staff struggles over the future of Japanese democracy, (Charles A.) Willoughby (MacArthur's principal intelligence man) was an unusually passionate player, trying to rid headquarters of the New Deal liberals whom he tended to see as fellow travelers or Communists. He was also always on the alert for any journalistic transgression against either the occupation or MacArthur personally. "Willoughby was absolutely convinced that because I was doing a good deal of original reporting on those divisions, reporting what neither he nor MacArthur liked, that I was a Communist," said Joseph Fromm, of U.S. News and World Report. "I remember one day he called me for a special one-on-one meeting, and it was a truly crazed scene. All he wanted to do was talk about Lenin and Marx, man-to-man, like we both knew what the game was, he the anti-Communist and the man of the law and me, in his mind, the Communist and thus the outlaw, and we would be equals in this sparring, sophisticates about it, men of the world, but in the end his view of Communism would trump mine." Years later, Fromm got hold of his security file through the Freedom of Information Act. What stunned him was the amount of garbage in it about him, all of it collected by Willoughby and his people in the G-2 section, reams and reams of it, much of it incredibly inaccurate, "the kind of thing that could ruin a person's career if it was taken seriously.

... the key to the importance of Willoughby was not his own self-evident inadequacies; it was that he represented the deepest kind of psychological weakness in the talented, flawed man he served - the need to have someone who agreed with him at all times and flattered him constantly. "MacArthur did not want the Chinese to enter the war in Korea. Anything MacArthur wanted, Willoughby produced intelligence for...In this case Willoughby falsified the intelligence reports...He should have gone to jail," said Lieutenant Colonel John Chiles, 10th Corpos G-3, or chief of operations. (-- p. 371)


Quote:
... Willoughby did all he could to minimize the overwhelming evidence that the Chinese had been the ones who struck the ROKs and the Eighth Cavalry near Unsan. A good many men who fought there came to believe that his refusal to act quickly on the evidence presented by the first captured Chinese prisoners and his unwillingness to add a serious note of caution to his intelligence briefings were directly responsible for the devastation inflicted on not just the Cav at Unsan but upon the Eighth Army soon after for the loss of so many buddies, and, in some cases, for their own long tours in Chinese and Korean prisons. To them, what he represented came perilously close to evil, someone who blustered about the dangers of Communism and the Chinese, but then ended up making their work easier by setting the U.N. forces up for that great ambush. He was, thought Bill Train, a bright, young, low-level G-3 (or operations) staff officer who fought against Willoughby's certitudes in those critical weeks, "a four-flusher - someone who made it seem like he knew what he was doing - but in the end what he produced was absolutely worthless; there was nothing there at all. Nothing. He got everything wrong! Everything! What he was doing in those days was fighting against the truth, trying to keep it from going from lower levels to higher ones, where it would have to be acted on." (-- p. 372)


Quote:
*The Coldest Winter:
America and the Korean War
Hardcover
By David Halberstam




How we'll miss this excellent journalist, who was killed April 23/07 in the Bay Area. More on the fatal car crash here.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goodbye *Little Town
Sinners, saints, and chimney-watchers in a small Ontario town
Hardcover
By Henry Gordon Green


Quote:
Cups up to the munificent Dutch on Remembrance Day (Veterans Day now) for continuing to crowd the streets 400,000 strong one day each summer to honor an ever-shrinking number of Canadian World War II veterans, who are credited with liberating the Netherlands - gezondheid and proost!

More tributes to the fallen of the two World Wars.





Quote:
It is Armistice Day again, lad, and the morning is full of flags and sleet and noses red with the wind. Over at the monument where your name is on one of the bronze scrolls which records a second war, there is the usual congregation, most of them shivering and not knowing quite when they should stand or when to talk and when to whisper. Near me, out here on the rim of the crowd, I see one of the mothers you must have known, trying to keep her face brave for still another year.

... I am not thinking of the day you left so much as the day you came to us, your hair pushing your ears out, the sun peeling the freckles from your nose, your suspenders hitched with a nail behind. Your shoes didn't match and your legs were covered with marks. I thought at first they were barbed-wire marks, and then I saw the trouble in your eyes. You would never admit it, but we were pretty sure you had just come from a whipping. We knew what kind of man your uncle was.

You asked our dad, "Need a good man to help in the hay, Henry? For a buck a week and bed and board?"

... "How old are you, Jim?" Dad asked. And you said you were twelve, going on thirteen. I know now that you lied a little about that the same as you did to get into the Army. You were only eleven, a couple of years younger than I was.

... It was a sin the way we let you work that day, but you were determined to make good your boast. You were going to prove that you could work if it killed you. So we put you at the back of the wagon beneath the loader, and thought it was a joke to toss the thistles against your legs and let the hay bury you instead of clearing it away from you.

(A few days later the uncle comes by for a word with Dad)

... "Well now Henry, if you want to keep him, more power to you. But you better let me tell you how to handle him when he gets ugly. No use tryin' to whup it out of him, Henry. Of course you can try if you want, but I could never get any surrender out of him that way. Tell you what you do though - anytime you want to make him knuckle under, just lock him in the dark somewheres!"

Your head jerked up from your pail as if you had been kicked, and when you looked at him your eyes seemed almost as big as those of your cow.

(Predictably, a group of boys one day determined to exploit this revelation).

... They carried you down to the culvert which takes the government ditch under the sideroad. ... There were 30-inch tiles in that culvert, room enough to cram you without any friction. You even had a little elbow-room in there, I suppose. But the devilish part of the plan was they had brought shovels and they were going to seal both ends with earth.

And they did. They told me afterward that you didn't get hysterical; you didn't cry, and except at first, you didn't beg for mercy. But when Dad finally stubmbled onto the adventure and threw the dirt away and took you by the shoulders to pull you into the light again, you shook in his hands like a sick dog. You were sick right after.

... You had begun to cry a little now. "It's my fault," you said. "They would never think of things like that if I wasn't so crazy scared of the dark!"

After we had all had time to calm down and we were walking home with the cool of the night coming down soft on us, you said, "It's awful having to be scared of the dark like that, Henry! I've got to get over that someday!"

... We didn't get too excited over the war news from the other side of the world those days. Europe was always full of trouble, and after all, there wasn't much that we could do about it, was there?

... Even then we thought that men would never be conscripted from the farm. An army still travelled on its stomach, didn't it?

But there came a man to the farm one day who soon set us right on that. "How many men over sixteen are working on this place?" he asked. ... "For a farm this size you're allowed only one beside yourself," my father was told.

... You didn't wait long enough for anyone to have to feel awkward about it. "I'll go," you said.

... On the other side of the Channel was a German ackack emplacement which was finding our planes with uncanny accuracy. There could be only one answer. Jerry must have invented a new anti-aircraft sight. Could a raiding party go over some night, cut the barrel from one of those guns and bring it back to England so Intelligence could have a look at it?

Any volunteers?

In a moment the Sergeant-Major will read off the names on the scroll over there, lad, and when he comes to yours it will take a little longer because he has to read the letters which now come after it.

The story of how you earned those letters found its way into the papers and has now been tucked away in the official histories, but your bravest deed of all is something which none of those stories will ever mention. Because to those who never knew you it must seem a mere detail that from the moment you volunteered for that raid, you knew it would have to be made on the darkest night possible.

And now there's a channel crossing not too far ahead of me and my fear of the dark is something my getting old can't seem to conquer.

When you see me coming, will you show me a light, lad? (From Chapter Twenty-Six, pgs. 134-140)


* That would be the little town of Arthur, Ontario:

Quote:
In November 1942, the Toronto Star ran a front page headline that read, Arthur Village Gives Sons and Money to Aid the War, recognizing Arthur as the Most Patriotic Village in Canada due to the fact that one out of seven Arthur residents fought in the Second World War. It was the highest ratio in comparsion to villages of comparable size in Canada. By the end of the war, 338 Arthur residents had enlisted, and 25 were killed in action. -- Wikipedia


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Life of Jung
Hardcover
By prolific biographer Ronald Hayman




Quote:
Twelve months had gone by since Jung completed his treatise on schizophrenia, but he had not prepared it for publication, and on 14 July he left Zurich again for three weeks of military service in Lausanne. Though he had a commission in the medical corps, he had to get up at five and work till eight in the evening 'as a medical jack-of-all-trades, annointing feet, cutting out corns, treating diarrhoea'. He also took parades at which he had to inspect the genitals of five hundred men. (From the chapter, Lusty Stallion, at pgs. 92-93)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks
Hardcover
By Frostback Robertson Davies, alter ego of
humorist Samuel Marchbanks


Quote:
More of Sam.





Quote:
FRIDAY

How I abhor candid people! Today a candid friend told me that this Diary was drivel. What is the diary of any man likely to be but drivel? How many of us are able to record a deed of daring every day, or a ponderous reflection on the nature of the universe? How many of us are able to record that we have been reasonably honest, that we have kept our hands from picking and stealing, and that Lust and Covetousness have been strangers to our hearts? In my time I have read many diaries, published and in manuscript, and the noble and uplifting ones were invariably the work of men whom I knew to be engine-turned, copper-bottomed self-lubricating liars and hypocrites... One of the most irritating diaries I ever read was written by a fellow I know who used to pinch all the best remarks I made and attribute them to himself. Hell gapes for such villainy. (From The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, p. 49)


Quote:
XXIII

SUNDAY


Admitted defeat today, and re-lit my furnace. A stickler for tradition, I let it out on the fifteenth of May, arguing that if spring had not come it oculd not be far away. But Nature, always ready with a nasty surprise for those who take her for granted, asserted herself and an Ice Age set in at Marchbanks Towers; nothing would dry that was wet; nothing that was dry would stay dry; outside ti was cold, wet and raw; inside ti was cold, wet and stuffy. There was nothing else for it; I went downstairs and faced the Monster. As I shoved kindling into his maw it seemed to me that he leered... The life of Man is a struggle with Nature and a struggle with the Machine; when Nature and machine link forces against him, Man hasn't a chance. (From The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, p. 91)


Quote:
OF THE BIG HINGE

I shovelled a lot of snow today, and rather enjoyed it, though I had had enough at least half an hour before the job was finished. But a friend of mine who sets up as a great authority on health tells me that snow shovelling is wonderful for the sedentary workers, because it makes them use their Big Hinge. Apparently "Big Hinge" is what health maniacs call the waist, because it bends. If you use your Big Hinge a lot it squeezes your tripes, causes your juices to squish and slither about inside you, wrings out your liver and spleen, and puts accordion pleats in your vermiform appendix; it scrapes your epigastrium on your backbone and increases the traffic on your alimentary canal. No doubt this is all very fine, but I find that any prolonged use of my Big Hinge makes me extremely hungry, and by the time have satisfied my hunger I have short-circuited all my inner workings, and my Big Hinge is incapable of moving more than a degree or two in any direction. My juices are solidified, my liver and spleen are like rocks; my appendix is throbbing like a Congo drum and my alimentary canal is closed to navigation. You can't win in the fight for health. (From The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks, p. 318)


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where There's a Will
Hardcover
By John Mortimer




Quote:
It's often said that men desire women for their looks but women fancy men for some less reliable quality, like their characters or their supposed position in the world. We, the vast majority of non-beautiful people, can only hope this is true.

If it is, it puts men at an unfair advantage. If you work hard at it, you might be able to improve your character, or even your position in the world. Beauty is something you can absolutely nothing about. It is distributed in the most unfair, politically incorrect and anti-democratic manner. It is bestowed on the least deserving and often denied to the best, unselfish and kindly intentioned people. Quite often the unfair nature of this gift causes resentment, not only from jealous women. I have known beautiful girls who have been badly treated by men who feel eclipsed by such spanking looks.

I have a beautiful wife and beautiful daughters and I would never say they don't deserve such luck. The fact is mildly surprising, however, as I look, as some newspaper put it kindly, 'like a bag of spanners'. The great majority of male spanner lookalikes must work out a careful approach and avoid anything as hopeless as promising to try hard. Stendhal, no oil painting but a man who notched up his conquests on his braces, relied on laughter and boasted, perhaps truthfully, that he could beat the record of the best-looking men. There is much to be said for this approach. My experience as counsel for the defence down at the Old Bailey was that if you could get the jury laughing you were likely to win the case. The more solemn the proceedings became, the less happy the verdict was likely to be. (From Chapter 22, Missed Opportunities, at pgs. 127-128)


Quote:
Where There's a Will
Audio Cassette, only (so far)
Sweetly read by the author, who
learned a thing or two about
oration down the Old Bailey and
other barrister-ish environs




Mortimer's charming memoirs provide a wonderful overview of values and issues at the heart of contemporary western culture.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2007 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paris 1919
Six Months that Changed the World
Paperback
By Frostback history champ Margaret Macmillan




Quote:
The peacemakers sent plaintive telegrams and fact-finding missions. "Action undertaken without further knowledge," said Lloyd George sagely, "might lead to a mess." They sent military experts, the French with a young Colonel Charles de Gaulle in their number, the British led by the war hero *General Adrian Carton de Wiart. With only one arm, one eye and one foot, he impressed the Poles deeply with his complete disregard of danger and his willingness to fight duels. (footnotes omitted) (From Poland Reborn, p. 215)


Quote:
*Note: Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart VC KBE CB CMG DSO (5 May 1880 - 5 June 1963), was a British officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He is considered by many to be one of the most remarkable figures in British military history, renowned for bravery, his striking character and the sheer adventure of his long life. He is thought to be a model for "Brigadier Ben Ritchie Hook" in Evelyn Waugh's trilogy Sword of Honour. (From Wikipedia)


Sword of Honour
Trilogy
Paperback
By Evelyn Waugh




Sword of Honour
DVD
Based on Waugh's semi-autobiographical
war trilogy




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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vanity Fair
Magazine Subscription
Into the Valley of Death
A strategic passage wanted by the Taliban and al-Qaeda,
جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان Afghanistan's Korengal Valley is among the deadliest pieces of terrain in the world for U.S. forces. One platoon is considered the tip of the American spear. Its men spend their days in a surreal combination of backbreaking labor - building outposts on rocky ridges - and deadly firefights, while they try to avoid the mistakes the Russians made. Sebastian Junger and photographer Tim Hetherington join the platoon's painfully slow advance, as its soldiers laugh, swear, and run for cover, never knowing which of them won't make it home
.
January, 2008




Quote:
... "Prison labor is basically what I call it," says a man I know only as Dave. Dave is a counter-insurgency specialist who spends his time at remote outposts, advising and trying to learn. He wears his hair longer than most soldiers, a blond tangle that after two weeks at Restrepo seems impressively styled with dirt. I ask him why the Korengal is so important.

"It's important because of accessibility to Pakistan," he says. "Ultimately, everything is going to Kabul. The Korengal is keeping the Pech River Valley safe, the Pech is keeping Kunar Province stable, and hence what we are hoping is all that takes the pressure off Kabul."

While we are talking, some rounds come in, snapping over our heads and continuing on up the valley. They were aimed at a soldier who had exposed himself above a HESCO. He drops back down, but otherwise, the men hardly seem to notice.

"The enemy doesn't have to good," Dave adds. "The just have to be lucky from time to time."

The Korengal is so desperately fought over because it is the first leg of a former mujahideen smuggling route that was used to bring in men and weapons from Pakistan during the 1980s. From the Korengal, the mujahideen were able to push west along the high ridges of the Hindu Kush to attack Soviet positions as far away as Kabul. It was called the نورستان Nuristan-Kunar corridor, and American military planners fear that al-Qaeda is trying to revive it. If the Americans simply seal off the valley and go around, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters currently hiding near the Pakistani towns of Dir and Chitral could use the Korengal as a base of operations to strike deep into eastern Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is rumored to be in the Chitral area, as are his second in command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and a clutch of other foreign fighters. While thousands of poorly trained Taliban recruits martyr themselves in southerrn Afghanistan, bin Laden's most highly trained fighters ready themselves for the next war, which will happen in the East.

In addition to strategic value, the Korengal also has the perfect population in which to root an insurgency. The Korengalis are clannish and violent and have successfully fought off every outside attempt to control them - including the Taliban's in the 1990s. They practice the extremist Wahhabi version of Islam and speak a language that even people in the next valley over cannot understand. That makes it extremely difficult for the American forces to find reliable translators. The Korengalis have terraced the steep slopes of their valley into fertile wheat fields and built stone houses that can withstand earthquakes (and, as it turns out, air strikes), and have set about cutting down the enormous cedar trees that cover the upper elevations of the Abas Ghar. Without access to heavy machinery, they simply grease the mountainsides with cooking oil and let the trees rocket several thousand feet to the valley below.

The timber industry has given the Korengalis a measure of wealth that has made them more or less autonomous in the country. حامد کرزي Hamid Karzai's government tried to force them into the fold regulating the export of timber, but the Taliban quickly offered to help them smuggle it out to Pakistan in return for assistance fighting the Americans. The timber is moved past corrupt border guards or along a maze of mountain tracks and donkey trails that cross the border into Pakistan. The locals call these trails buzrao; some American soldiers refer to them as "rat lines." The routes are almost impossible to monitor because they cross steep, forested mountainsides that provide cover from aircraft. After firefights, the Americans can listen in on Taliban radio communications calling for more ammunition to be brought by donkey along these lines. (-- pgs. 91-92)


But the military has made some headway, right?

Wrong.

Quote:
By many measures, Afghanistan is falling apart. The Afghan opium crop has flourished in the past two years and now represents 93 percent of the world's supply, with an estimated street value of $38 billion in 2006. That money helps bankroll an insurgency that is now operating virtually within sight of the capital, Kabul. Suicide bombings have risen eightfold in the past two years, including several devastating attacks in Kabul, and as of October, coalition casualties had surpassed those of any previous year. The situation has gotten so bad, in fact, that ethnic and political factions in the northern part of the country have started stockpiling arms in preparation for when the international community decides to pull out. Afghans - who have seen two foreign powers on their soil in 20 years - are well aware that everything has an end point, and that in their country end points are bloodier than most.

The Korengal is widely considered to be the most dangerous valley in northeastern Afghanistan, and Second Platoon is considered the tip of the spear for the American forces there. Nearly one-fifth of all combat in Afghanistan occurs in this valley, and nearly three-quarters of all the bombs dropped by NATO forces in Afghanistan are dropped in the surrounding area. The fighting is on foot and it is deadly, and the zone of American control moves hilltop by hilltop, ridge by ridge, a hundred yards at a time. There is literally no safe place in the Korengal Valley. Men have been shot while asleep in their barracks tents. (-- p. 86)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Paperback
By Marina Lewycka




Quote:
Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blond Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.

It all started with a phone call.

My father's voice, quavery with excitement, crackles down the line.

'Good news, Nadezhda. I'm getting married!" (From Chapter One, two phone calls and a funeral, opening paragraphs)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

British Country Living
Magazine Subscription
The ring leaders
Bell ringing runs in the blood in the Derbyshire village of Darley Dale, where all generations and professions learn the ropes of this ancient pastime
Words by Caroline Atkins
January, 2008




Quote:
Bells have been sounded throughout the centuries, to celebrate, to mourn and to raise the alarm in times of flood, fire or invasion, but the idea of a complete ring - five bells or more, pulled in sequence - only developed in the mid 17th century. "The art of change-ringing is peculiar to the English and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible to the rest of the world," Dorothy L. Sayers writes in her 1934 mystery novel, The Nine Tailors, which weaves the intricacies of their music into its dark fenland murder story.

"You don't actually have to be musical," Richard says. But you do need a sense of rhythm, enough of an ear to hear you bell among the others and to be good with numbers. It's not exactly mathematical, just that each bell is represented by a number: eight at St Helen's (so the number of changes possible without repeating a sequence is over 40,000) and up to 16 at other towers, making the permutations even more complex. "Engineers make very good ringers," says one of the team, chatting in a hillside pub after the weekly Wednesday night practice. St Helen's duly has its mining engineer, Neil Hitchens, who lives in Cornwall but rings at Darley Dale when his work brings him this way.

"You need a sense of recklessness," adds Jo Walker, a visitor steward at Haddon Hall (further up the valley in Bakewell) who also works as a gardener. "When you first pull that mass of bell metal (a blend of copper and tin, weighing up to three-quarters of a tonne in this tower) from its standing position, so that it swings in a full circle and back, you just have to go for it and trust your team will keep you safe."

The trick is to be firm but gentle. "When a bell is stiff to get going, it's a bit like having to lug a reluctant animal out of its stall - you have to give it a push," Richard explains. But once the swing of the bell pulls the rope upwards, that's when it's really important to let go of the thick, woven, coloured "sally," or you'll go up with it. Ringing legend echoes with accidental hangings and stranglings (in The Nine Tailors ., one bell kills three men and almost finishes off the aristocratic detective her, Lord Peter Wimsey), but the Darley Dale ringers don't seem too worried.. (-- p. 60)


The Nine Tailors
Paperback
By Dorothy L. Sayers




Quote:
The Nine Tailors
Audio CD
BBC Full Cast with PokerPulse fav,
Ian Carmichael, reprising his role as
charmingLord Peter




Must be a corker, though we have not yet obtained ours. Please check back for the full review.


Quote:
The Nine Tailors
DVD
With Ian as Sayers' sleuth aristocrat




Far more terrifying - and bloodily effusive - than one might expect.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Soul Mountain
Paperback
By Nobel Prize winner 2000 Gao Xingjian
Translated from the Chinese by Mabel Lee




Quote:
On this side of the bridge you eventually find an inn on an old cobblestone street. The wooden floors have been mopped and it's clean enough. You are given a small single room which has a plank bed covered with a bamboo mat. The cotton blanket is a suspicious grey - either it hasn't been washed properly or that's the original colour. You throw aside the greasy pillow from under the bamboo mat and luckily it's hot so you can do without the bedding. What you need right now is to off-load your luggage which has become quite heavy, wash off the dust and sweat, strip and stretch yourself out on the bed.

There's shouting and yelling next door. They're gambling and you can hear them picking up and throwing down the cards. A timber partition separates you and, through the holes poked into the paper covering the cracks, you make out the blurred figures of some bare-chested men. You're not so tired that you can drop off to sleep just like that. You tap on the wall and instantly there's loud shouting next door. They're not shouting at you but amongst themselves - there are always winners and losers and it sounds as though the loser is trying to get out of paying. They're openly gambling in the inn despite the public security office notice on the wall prohibiting gambling and prostitution. You decide to see if the law works. You put on some clothes, go down the corridor and knock on the half-closed door. Your knocking makes no difference, they keep shouting and yelling inside and nobody takes any notice. So you push open the door and go in. The four men sitting around the bed in the middle of the room all turn to look at you. But it's you and not they who gets a rude shock. The men all have bits of paper stuck on their faces, on their foreheads, lips, noses and cheeks, and they look ugly and ridiculous. They aren't laughing and are glaring at you. You've butted in and they're clearly annoyed.

"Oh, you're playing cards," you say, putting on an apologetic look.

They go on playing. The long paper cards have red and black markings like mahjong and there's a Gate of Heaven and a Prison of Hell. The winner penalizes the loser by tearing off a strip of newspaper and sticking it on a designated spot. Whether this is a prank, a way of letting off steam, or a tally, is something agreed upon by the gamblers and there is no way for outsiders to know what it's all about. (From Part 1, pgs. 8-9)


Quote:
Label France
Interview with Gao Xingjian
"Literature makes it possible to hold on to one's awareness of oneself as human"
By Jean-Luc Douin of Le Monde
April, 2001

Quote:
On October 12, 2000 Gao Xingjian became the first writer in Chinese to be awarded the Nobel prize for Literature. A victim of the Cultural Revolution in China, this dissident of the Tian'anmen generation, a political refugee in France since 1988, became a naturalised French citizen in 1998.

Novelist and playwright, he lays claim to writing liberated from all the rules. In La Montagne de l'âme [Soul Mountain], his masterpiece, he retraces a ghostly journey through the interior of China in the footsteps of Lao Tseu, far from the "world of dust'. His narrators alternate "I," "you" and "it," depending on whether they are talking about everyday life, giving an introspective monologue or engaging in philosophical speculation; the use of "we" is banned, because it stands for the idea of mass thought against which the writer has been vaccinated. (-- p. 34)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Hardcover
Cruel, offensive story by Gabriel García Márquez
in his usual elegant style due, no doubt, in large
measure to Spanish translator Edith Grossman




Quote:
The year I turned ninety, I wanted to give myself the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin. I thought of Rosa Cabarcas, the owner of an illicit house who would inform her good clients when she had a new girl available. I never succumbed to that or to any of her many other lewd temptations, but she did not believe in the purity of my principles. Morality, too, is a question of time, she would say with a malevolent smile, you'll see. She was a little younger than I, and I hadn't heard anything about her for so many years that she very well might have died. But after the first ring I recognized the voice on the phone, and with no preambles I fired at her:

"Today's the day."

... And so, on the eve of my ninetieth birthday, I had no lunch and could not concentrate on reading as I waited to hear from Rosa Cabarcas. The cicadas were chirruping as loud as they could in the two o'clock heat, and the sun's journey past the open windows forced me to move the hammock three times. It always seemed to me that my birthday fell at the hottest time of the year, and I had learned to tolerate it, but my mood that day made this difficult. At four o'clock I tried to calm my spirit with Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello in the definitive performance by Don Pablo Casals. I consider them the most accomplished pieces in all of music, but instead of soothing me as usual they left me in an even worse state of prostration. I fell aslepp during the second, which I think lags somewhat, and in my sleep I confused the cello's lament with that of a melancholy ship that was leaving. At almost the same time the telephone woke me, and the rusted voice of Rosa Cabarcas brought me back to life. You have a fool's luck, she said. I found a little thing even better than what you wanted, but there's one drawback: she just turned fourteen. I don't mind changing diapers, I said as a joke, not understanding her motives. I'm not worried about you, she said, but who's going to pay me for three years in jail? (Opening paragraph and pgs. 16-17)


J.S. Bach
Solo Cello Suites
Audio CD
Featuring the legendary Pablo Casals




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