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Wednesday, October 10, 2001
lots of nice poems and sayings and stuff at dle. i like this one by charles bukowski.

I know a woman
who keeps buying puzzles
pieces that finally fit
into some order.
she works it out
she solves all her
lives down by the sea
puts sugar out for the ants
and believes
in a better world.
her hair is white
she seldom combs it
her teeth are snaggled
and she wears loose shapeless
coveralls over a body most
women would wish they had.
for many years she irritated me
with what I considered her
like soaking eggshells in water
(to feed the plants so that
they d get calcium).
but finally when I think of her
and compare it to other lives
more dazzling, original
and beautiful
I realize that she has hurt fewer
people than anybody I know
(and by hurt I mean hurt).
she has had some terrible times,
times when maybe I should have
helped her more
for she is the mother of my only
and we were once great lovers,
but she has come through
like I said
she has hurt fewer people than
anybody I know,
and if you look at it like that,
she has created a better world.
she has won.

Frances, this poem is for
Charles Bukowski
one for old snaggle-tooth
from: Love is a Dog from Hell: Poems 1974-1977.

anewnoise looks like a cool music site. linked to a microphones concert.

this other music site reviewed P.O.D. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

(via sensible erection)

in "divot diggers" there is a great scene in which one of the upper-class country club golfers sees the monkey (who is dressed in full golf attire, naturally) and, aghast, announces, "Now don't tell me that's a caddy!" in response, spanky hushes the golfer and whispers, "shhh...not so loud. He thinks he is." and that's how i think i approach my own life, generally. i just keep hoping no one blows the whistle on me, and exposes me as the phony i must surely be.

Monday, October 8, 2001
went on a roadtrip/went to a wedding party thing. grandma mo can get down! went paintballing with the wedding party. i am sore. bad kids are more interesting. or at least more story-worthy.

the new spiritualized album is kinda crappy (in a bernard butler kind of way :) all is dream is better. but the glow pt. 2 is beautiful.

Wednesday, October 3, 2001
via metafilter

tc collection

The categories are arbitrary, and there's considerable overlap, particularly between the skin disease and cancer, tropical disease, and VD groups, and between the accident and forensic groups. Sorry 'bout that. You get what you paid for.

rescuing cats

Looks like this one has gone slightly feral. It was probably abandoned by its owners six or seven months ago, a year maybe. It's lucky to have made it this long. If not for its instincts, this kitty would have succumbed to a variety of outdoor dangers a long time ago.

Tuesday, October 2, 2001
went to the cafeteria today and got a sandwich and salad for lunch. i couldn't finish it (there was a ton of cheese in the salad, like it was half-cheese!) so i placed the leftover cheese in a leftover coffee cup i had and squashed the sandwich in on top and took it home. forgot to get toilet paper tho-ugh.

lots of cool stuff today for some reason :)

in inigo thomas' idea of the day yesterday he, among other things, chides arundhati roy and links to a couple articles about empire [latimes|lrb]. also found this interview with doug henwood.

wood s lot linked to an oikos paper with potential solutions to the prisoners' dilemma, while metafilter linked to an interview with peter drucker. oh, and gulfstream linked to the grey areas of the prime directive. the federation was never evil was it?

wsj article today on madrasahs :

With Pakistan's Schools in Tatters,
Madrasahs Spawn Young Warriors

AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan -- At the Jamia Abu Huraira School of Islamic Studies for Boys near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, supreme imam Maulana Abdul Qayyum says over tea that his pupils are ready for a jihad against the U.S. Two of his acolytes, Taliban members in their 30s, look on with icy resolve.

Jamia Abu Huraira is one of thousands of mosque-based madrasahs, or religious schools, in Pakistan where young male students, or taliban, from this country and Afghanistan spend years memorizing the Koran in Arabic, a tongue foreign to their native Urdu or Pashto. That's not all they learn: Students such as Qasin Nodhi are also trained in weapons and judo. "For the self defense of Islam," says the reed-thin 18-year-old.

The near collapse of public education in Pakistan and Afghanistan -- and the corresponding rise in influence of the madrasahs -- are critical legacies of more than two decades of Cold War proxy battles and subsequent armed strife in this region. In the 1980s, the U.S. supported the mujahedeen resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan by pumping billions of dollars into that country through Pakistan's intelligence service.

But when the Soviets retreated in 1989, the U.S. and other Western governments invested relatively little in promoting civil institutions such as education. Militant Muslims eagerly stepped into the vacuum, and their madrasahs educated many of the taliban who went on to form the movement of that name which now rules Afghanistan.

At least one education program the U.S. did sponsor probably did little to break the culture of violence that envelops children here from an early age. The Agency for International Development paid the University of Nebraska $50 million over eight years, from 1986 to 1994, to produce educational materials for Afghan primary- and secondary-school students. But texts on a range of subjects were highly politicized and often had a militaristic overtone, Tom Gouttierre, director of the university's Center for Afghan Studies in Omaha, now concedes. Some questions prodded students to tackle basic math by counting dead Russians and Kalashnikov rifles.

Private aid groups have tried other approaches on a smaller scale and shown some success. The U.S. branch of Save the Children took over primary education from the Pakistani government in the camps for Afghan refugees in the southern Baluchistan province in 1995. Then, only 6,000 children were enrolled. On a standardized test administered when the program began, only one of the 647 girls passed. With a meager $1 million annual budget, part of which is funded by the U.S. State Department, the program now educates more than 16,000 Afghan refugees with new texts developed in Germany.

If expanded, such efforts could, over the long run, have a more devastating effect on the Taliban and other militant Muslims than smart bombs, educators and aid officials argue.

The battle for Arshad's heart and mind may be over, however. The 11-year-old, who doesn't offer his last name, rises each morning at 4 to pray and recite the Koran at the Central Martyrs madrasah in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. In his village near Peshawar, there is no public school. His parents paid the equivalent of $2 a month, a large sum in Pakistan, to put his older brother through a private high school, but he has yet to find work years after graduation, Arshad says.

"The madrasah is free" -- and includes room and board -- "so why waste money in such a way?" he asks. Following typical madrasah rules, the boy hasn't seen his parents in nine months and probably won't have any contact with them for at least another few years.

Arshad has learned little about the modern world. A visitor asks him whether a man has ever walked on the moon. "This isn't possible," the boy answers. What is two times two? Silence. Eager to impress, though, he announces that dinosaurs exist: "The Jewish and American infidels have created these beasts to devour Muslims."

With Afghanistan largely in ruins, and the Taliban having specifically decimated the country's schools, many Afghan refugee children join Pakistani youngsters seeking education in Pakistan. But Pakistan, the world's sixth most-populous nation, with 150 million people, will spend only about 2% of its gross national output on public education this year, one of the lowest rates in the world, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Pakistan, as a matter of law, promises children a free education, but in many places, public schools starved for resources barely function.

The nation's hermetic madrasahs fill most of this enormous gap. They are not only a potential source of future jihad warriors, but also a bulwark against the evolution of secular institutions in business, government and other areas.

"Education has been ignored for so long in this region, and the current crisis is part of the price," says Andrew Wilder, Save the Children's director for Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Ironically, relatively uneducated hard-line groups recognized much better than the West did the desirability of co-opting education for its ends."

Pakistan's military dictator and president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said in an interview with CNN that was broadcast over the weekend that his country's "7,000 or 8,000" madrasahs comprise "the biggest welfare organization anywhere in the world," providing free education and living arrangements for up to 700,000 mostly poor children. But asked about the role many of the schools play as a breeding ground of anti-American fanaticism, he added, "Any madrasah which is preaching terrorism or militancy ... we would like to move against it."

The madrasahs' funding and organizational structure are murky. Intelligence and education officials in Pakistan say madrasahs receive much of their money from hard-line Islamic groups and charities in such Muslim countries as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq. Some of these officials say some schools receive funds from alleged terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The U.S. has targeted charities linked to radical Muslim groups in the first salvo of its reponse to the Sept. 11 suicide-hijacking attacks.

Mr. Qayyum, head of the Jamia Abu Huraira School, says Muslim charities he won't specify have allowed his madrasah to erect 1,000 tents for Afghan refugees in the arid terrain near Peshawar and provide a medical dispensary equipped with an X-ray machine. He tools around the Akora Khattak region in a late-model van accessorized to look like an ambulance, passing street-side gun bazaars and freshly painted signs recruiting Muslim warriors for an unspecified holy war.

The Institute of Islamic Studies, a large madrasah in the Pakistani village of Barakahu, 10 miles outside Islamabad, thrives on the "charity of Muslim brothers blessed by Allah," says its imam, S.M. Saeed, from his air-conditioned office. The institute illustrates the recent development of better-equipped madrasahs whose curricula sometimes go beyond the Koran. The school's hundreds of students enjoy new, clean facilities -- and computers used in class. Tuition, room and board are all free.

Down a nearby dirt road filled with litter and stray goats, teacher Mohammed Kabil also offers a free education, courtesy of the government. But his tumbledown one-room schoolhouse has no water or electricity. Many of his 40 students lack the texts necessary to follow the state curriculum. "At least in the religious education of the madrasah, there is a chance of a good life in the hereafter or a steady job as a religious leader. That's more than we can offer," says fellow teacher Syed Khalid, who earns the equivalent of about $60 a month.

Madrasah students are expected to memorize the entire Koran -- hundreds of pages -- a task that on average takes about three years. There is little time for other studies. In a poor country that stresses education by rote, the madrasahs exacerbate an already failing system. A 1995 study by the government found that only 5% of elementary-school children could pass a basic quiz in reading, writing and arithmetic. The result, says Mr. Khalid: "Many children reach 15 years of age, having learned nothing but the Koran."

Mr. Saeed says his madrasah's teaching staff addresses more than just religious text. They have discussed the events of Sept. 11 with their young charges, for example. One theory picked up from Arab press reports and printed in at least two Pakistani newspapers has been stressed for students, Mr. Saeed says: "Four thousand Jews who worked in the World Trade Center were tipped off and did not appear at work that morning."

Not all madrasah students are destitute and ignorant of the outside world. Some comfortable families are sending their boys to the schools for early religious training. A privileged son of the northern Pakistani territory of Swat, 20-year-old Muazzam Shah spent several years studying in a madrasah before moving on to studies in information technology in Islamabad.

His madrasah years were formative. In the event of a U.S. attack on Afghanistan, he and his cousin -- who operates a madrasah back home -- are ready to take up arms. "I will go to Afghanistan and kill Americans," he says. "It is the job of every well-educated Muslim to participate in holy war."

The first madrasah was founded in Deoband, India, in the wake of a suppressed 1857 jihad against the British colonial government. Generations of conservative Afghan religious leaders received religious training in Deoband, and the original school has offspring across Muslim Asia, linking education to a fierce Islamic nationalism. Taliban members today follow what is known as Deobandi Islam.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, madrasahs thrived among the desperate residents of Pakistan's refugee camps. Many madrasah students graduated into the Taliban. Much of the movement's weaponry came courtesy of the U.S., via Pakistan.

Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan from 1979 to 1988, established madrasahs among the refugees to help repel the presumed threat of Communism. Gen. Zia also encouraged public schools to share space with mosques and even gave extra credit toward high-school diplomas to those who memorized the Koran.

Meanwhile, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a Pakistan government printing press in Peshawar churned out some 13 million textbooks designed by the University of Nebraska for distribution in Afghanistan and refugee camps in Pakistan. "It was crazy," recalls Nayyar Iqbal, an official with Save the Children in the southern frontier city of Quetta. "They taught children math by counting dead Russians."

The U.S. government "mandated" this approach, hoping it would help the U.S.-backed mujahedeen resistance against the Soviets and the since-toppled ruling alliance those forces established in the early 1990s, says the university's Mr. Gouttierre. Once the Soviets left in 1989, he adds, "we started to revise the texts to what I consider to be more constructive texts." The university also brought some Afghan teachers to Omaha for training, he says.

Some of the revised versions are still floating around, but the eventual cutoff of U.S. funding doomed the program, Mr. Gouttierre says. Little sprang up in its place. "With the end of secular [education] efforts in Afghanistan, I think it really opened up the door to a monopoly of education by extremist elements functioning inside Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Persian Gulf that undermined the capability of more-moderate elements to create a credible education system," he adds. "I've had Afghans say to me that education in a madrasah is worse than no education at all."

Today, Gen. Musharraf is cautiously attempting to dilute the influence of the madrasahs, echoing his policy of solidarity with the coalition the U.S. is assembling against the Taliban. That is provoking an angry reaction in some poor villages, where Osama is now a popular name for new-born boys.

This plays into the hands of Mr. Saeed at his madrasah outside Islamabad. He is preparing his students for power in a way the relatively uneducated Taliban never were. He has recently grafted the state curriculum onto the standard religious education of madrasahs, teaching subjects such as math and general sciences.

"We want our students who do not decide to become mullahs to go on to professions in politics, journalism and the civil service," Mr. Saeed says. All such careers are off limits to those who do not complete core coursework required by the state.

In Quetta, Mahjan Sarabi, headmistress of the Aryana School for Girls, is one of the tiny minority of educators trying to resist the expansion of sectarian, fiercely anti-American education. Her pupils are all Afghan refugees living in an impoverished neighborhood. The Taliban has banned girls from being educated and women from working. Most of Afghanistan's primary-school teachers had been women.

Supported financially by the British organization Oxfam, among others, Ms. Sarabi's school is filled with students who are desperate to catch up. "We have seen so much opportunity taken from us, we never take holidays here, not even weekends or holy days," she says to the approving nods of a cramped room of several dozen fourth-graders, some sitting two to a chair. The students crisply recite their multiplication tables and offer a friendly communal greeting to an outsider. Their classroom wall sports a trophy case of land mines children are taught to avoid.

Nearby, a separate low-profile program paid for by Western aid organizations serves boys, ages 7 to 12, who survive by scavenging in the city's plentiful garbage piles. When they drop by for several hours a day, the boys learn reading, art and other subjects at what seems like a kindergarten level. Aid officials say the program, started in the late 1990s, could die by next year because of a lack of funding.

-- Scott Neuman in Islamabad contributed to this article.

Write to Peter Fritsch at

Monday, October 1, 2001
iranian police women

the algebra of infinite justice by arundhati roy, the naomi klein of india! (via robotwisdom)
interview with william vollman, the babel of afghanistan :) (via robotwisdom)

be cool, america. by matt taibbi of not quite cover of rolling stone fame (via metafilter)
IM chat between BinLaden9151 and XprezbushX on diaryland (via metafilter)

portrait of the terrorist as a young man (via linkmachinego)

Yet of the young Osama there is almost nothing. Repeatedly, Saudi sources are cited describing him as "normal", "unexceptional", "quiet", "intense". Three years ago, the staff of one American magazine clearly struggled to dream up a subhead for the section of a Bin Laden profile dealing with his youth, but ended up inadvertently crystallising the state of our knowledge in six words. They were: "Ordinary young man - then joined jihad."

also this bit of intelligence from the TGL:

If we in the West wonder why it is that the moderate Islamic states view us with such disdain, perhaps the following episode of US/Pakistani relation will shed some light. In the late-1980's as the Pakistani/India border dispute over the Kashmir truly began to heat up and as it was clear that Pakistan had a growing nuclear capability, the US was moved to actů rather strangely we might add. Pakistan had ordered two dozen F-16 fighters from the US. Further, Pakistan sent approximately $650 million as a downpayment for the fighters, but after a substantive lobbying effort by India, the US Congress moved to suspend the shipment of those aircraft. The US did not, however, return Pakistan's money. Instead, the US kept the money until last year... and then, it returned only $380 million of it, with the remainder paid out via shipments of wheat and soyabeans.

Making matters worse, the US chose then to charge Pakistan a "parking fee" for the F-16's in question that had been parked in the Arizona desert pending approval of the sale, which never came. Nowhere was this reported in the US; but the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people are all too aware of the duplicity of the US government in this manner. We recall the anger that the US felt toward China when China finally allowed the US airforce men and women who were shot down last year over Hainan Island, and then charged the service people an exit tariff. The anger on the part of the American people was palpable and understandable; the anger on the part of the Pakistani people in the matter of the F-16's is also palpable and understandable... and under-reported.

Now, suddenly, Pakistan finds itself the virtual "apple of the Western eye," and even some pro-Western Pakistani foreign policy experts are wondering how it was that only a month or so ago their country was a pariah and now suddenly it is being courted by every nation in the West. As one high ranking (but anonymous) Pakistani foreign affairs advisor said yesterday in an interview with the AP, "People like myself wonder what happened to those principals that we were supposedly violating" that led to sanctions being imposed on Pakistan. We in the West must remember that we were opposed to the coup that brought Gen. Musharaff to power initially; now we find our government embracing him enthusiastically. We, and others, find this somewhat confusing.

While on the topic of Pakistan, we wish to note that Gen. Musharaff's most difficult problem is likely to come from withinů not from within the country, but from within the military itself, for the second tier of officers in the Pakistani armed services are rather uncomfortably fundamentalist Muslims themselves. During the tenure of General Zia al-Haq, whom Gen. Musharaff replaced in a coup, was moving the military toward staunch "Islamisation." According to Gen. al-Haq's own Minister of Defense, Gen. Talat Massoud, al-Haq hoped "to draw legitimacy from the process of Islamisation." During this period in the early 80's, nearly all promotions within the armed services went to the fundamentalists, and now it is estimated that 20% of the office ranks are fundamentalists, with strong propensities to support the Taliban.

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