Linkback at The Hour’s home page … – The Hour

Elron, on the Closer about ID cards

I was pretty stoked to see this last week, lol. I've been writing a fair bit about The Hour, and I was thrilled to see that George linked to one of my blog posts. Not too much more to say about it, except another recomendation for everyone to watch The Hour. I've apparently been watching it on repeat too … I guess its on Newsworld at 8PM ET live … gonna verify that tomorrow.


Test Post and Shout Out for new software | Helping Bloggers Succeed

I am testing some new software to track metrics on my blog, and they also have an interesting posting Firefox extension that I am making this post in. So far, it seems like a really slick system … the metrics have quite a few useful, blogger specific bits of data, and the Firefox extension seems to add some nice functionality. Dunno if I'll always use this, but for right now, it seems like a nice little toolset.

Any bloggers out there who want to try it, click the link above and sign up. Its fast and easy, and so far seems very useful.




I wonder how many people have been following the Doonesbury cartoon of late. Unlike almost any other media today, and certainly unlike any other comic, Doonesbury is able to cover topics that defy the typical one panel, or four panel, treatment. From the early days, though the art is far more refined, Trudeau has always been able to strike that balance between relevant, self-contained strips, and a larger story arc, mostly sucked right from the headlines.

The current story line is no different. What strikes me more than his ability to hold a story arc, however, is the sensitivity with which the subject is always dealt. Sure, he has his detractors, people who would point to his skewering of Republican presidents from Nixon through the current Bush and say he can't be trusted to to report facts, who would point to his coverage of Vietnam and Gulf War I and II and say he can't be trusted to say important things. Generally, these are the same people he is skewering, and the same people sending soldiers to those places.

But the facts are in the strips, really. In a simple 4-panel strip, over the past few months, Trudeau has written the story of many soldiers, I think … soldiers faced with decisions where there were no correct answers in the grand scheme of things, only answers where the degree of wrong was slightly less. It may not literally involve giving the order to gun your vehicle through a crowd to escape death, but soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are faced with similar choices every day, and theres no doubt, for me anyway, that some have faced that exact choice.

Trudeau may not tell the stories that people in power want told. Its not really surprising that the people who make policy don't like the sort of stories Trudeau tells. I'm no tsure thats important … whats more important is whether its the stories from Vietnam in the 60's and 70's, the stories from Gulf I in the 90's, or the ones from Iraq today, there are probably a lot of soldiers out there who can identify with BD. I've never been there, so I can't say for sure ofc … but from the outside looking in, it strikes me that while the power brokers may not identify well with Trudeau, I expect soldiers do just fine with BD.

The Praha Cross

The Praha Cross
Originally uploaded by Elron6900.

This is another photo from my trip to Prague in '05. This cross is embedded in the sidewalk outside the National Museum, at the top of Wenceslas Square. There was no plaque anywhere around I could see indicating an artist, and while there always seemed to be flowers there, after 7 days I never actually saw anyone leave any flowers. I snapped this shot from above, standing on the steps of the National Museum using a tripod and long exposure, after dark.

I left Prgaue unsure whether this was intended as public art, religious fervour, or some combination of the two. But regardless, i find myself drawn back to the picture time and time again.

The Other Day

I dug this poem out of my files from the past. I'm pretty sure I haven't posted it before, but if I have, well, I was thinking about it again, so its worth reposting, LOL. Its a bit surreal … I know that Samual Beckett was in my mind a bit when I wrote it. I also know the Joan Osborne song "One of Us" was an inspiration … I remember the line "just a stranger on the bus, trying to make his way home" really sticking in my mind, and I remember wondering where else we might see God. Its also structured something like a song, though I'm not sure I have a tune in mind for it. I think that's where this scene really came from … but don't ask me what it means. Your guess is as good as mine … feel free to guess in the Comments, if you like *G*

The Other Day
by Lyle Bateman

the other day I saw god
sitting in the cafe
sunlight glinted through rain-speckled glass
as I listened to my brain hum (chorus)

he stared at me
over the wall street journal
his stale half donut
and coffee mist

a black suit
billowed off his shoulders
flowing down his arms
pooling at his feet


rat's-nest brown hair
over scored-leather forehead
his bloodshot eyes
gorged into a smile

he folded the paper
crisp corners under his arm
one last donut nibble
and two swigs of coffee


with a $2.00 tip
a smile and a nod
long strides crossed the checker-squares
out the swinging doors

all he said was
the coffee's good
but i wish they'd bake the donuts
fresh every day


Copyright 1996 Lyle W. Bateman – All Rights Reserved

In Terror War, Not All Names Are Equal

In Terror War, Not All Names Are Equal
William Fisher

This was a fascinating piece, I thought, highlighting the different treatment received by charity groups vs commercial groups when accused of doing business with terrorist regimes. The real question, to me anyway, this article raises is why does Halliburton get to continue operating while under investigation for business with Iran, a state sponsor of terror, but charities who are accused of the same thing have their funds seized, and operations shut down.

It might be worth noting that OXFAM and similar charities may simply not be acceptable to true Muslim donators, and the reason for it is simple. OXFAM, or Save the Children, operate in the western world of Judeo-Christian values. As I've pointed out in posts before, one of the fundamental tenets of Islam is that usury is morally wrong … charging interest, collecting interest, offering interest are all scripturally forbidden for a true Muslim. OXFAM and Save the Children, operating in the western, Christian world, almost certainly make use of interest bearing accounts to store donated funds, where as true Muslim charities like the Benevolence International Foundation would not. For Muslims to contribute to a charity which will use their funds in a morally unacceptable way is not a reasonable expectation. Contributing to OXFAM may very well be breaking a very sacred tenet of Islamic faith, by giving your money to someone who would then submit it to usury … its unreasonable for us to expect Muslims to contribute through Christian, or Christian-based charities, especially when they can't guarantee upholding Muslim values.

I know some people may be thinking this is a small issue, and perhaps it is. There are lots of folks in the world who think the Catholic stand on birth control is small issue, and that a charity that does good work but also hands out condoms, for instance, would be an acceptable place for a Catholic to donate their funds. The Pope would vehemently disagree, saying that any charity which also hands out condoms is anti-Catholic, and Catholics should be very careful about contributing to any cause that makes such a mockery of a strongly-held belief. The Islamic prohibition on usury is just as strong as the Catholic issues with condoms, if not more so. Asking a Muslim to contribute to OXFAM is akin to expecting a Catholic to be happy with a charity that hands out condoms … it is only our ethnocentric views that make us see it differently.

Stonehenge at Sunset

Stonehenge at Sunset 01
Originally uploaded by Elron6900.

One of the unexpected side benefits of the job I currently have is the location of our 'branch offices.' Suffice to say, the UK branch of what I do is situated about 10 miles north of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. When I traveled to that site in 2003, I stayed in the village of Amesbury, about 5 miles south of Stonehenge. As a result, my daily commute from my hotel to the office involved driving within 100 meters of Stonehenge every morning.

I must admit, the 'coolness' of this was totally lost on the locals, lol. I think the guys I worked with thought I was a bit odd being so excited about my commute, but I suppose that's true no matter where you go … what is a remarkable vacation photo to a stranger, is just some rocks in a field for people who drive past it every day of their lives.

Regardless, I made a point of getting off a bit early one day. It wasn't an equinox, or a solstice, so the placement of the setting sun isn't quite inline with the stones it should be, but I wanted to get a shot of Stonehenge in 'action' so to speak, doing that which it was designed to do, tell the time. I took a few different shots from roughly this angle as the sun set (and even one taken after the sun was down completely on my Flickr page too) and I think this ended up being the best one.

Hope everyone enjoys it … for the record, its Nov 26th, 2003.