discarded lies: tuesday, april 24, 2018 7:55 am zst
rootless cosmopolitans
daily archive: 12/24/2004
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
A Powerful Weapon
Attacks like the explosion that killed 22 at a U.S. mess hall in Mosul display increasingly sophisticated planning in insurgent operations, producing dramatic assaults that exact punishing tolls, boost militants' morale and recruit new fighters.

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evariste in Discarded Lies:
The Crucial Nature Of Iraq's Elections
An excellent column from Thomas Sowell on the make-or-break nature of these elections for middle eastern democracy.

The election coming up in Iraq may turn out, in the long view of history, to be even more important than our own recent election. Both elections represent a country at a crossroads, with a choice of very different paths to take -- for many years to come -- according to the results of the voting.

If Iraqi voters choose a government that will perpetuate their right to continue to freely choose their own government, that will represent a radical change and something unique in the history of the entire Arab world. Its repercussions on surrounding Middle East countries could be momentous in the years and generations ahead.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Christmas the Wiggles Way
With only a few days left before Christmas I am sure that many of you, myself included, are bustling about trying to take care of all the last minute presents and details of putting together what we hope to be a perfect Christmas holiday. The next few days will pass before we know it, the presents will be opened, the feast consumed, Christmas will come and go, and we will resume our normal hectic lives. We will then spend the next week preparing for New Years Eve festivities, without skipping a beat, having jammed even more activities into what is already an overloaded schedule. After all of that the only things that might have changed are we are now further indebt, a few pounds heavier, and we now have more stuff to worry about.

Without hardly a thought the next two weeks will pass into oblivion, gone forever. So busily engaged in holiday activities that we perhaps will fail to notice those in need, those alone without family, those away from home serving their country, those without substance or shelter, those who might be depressed this time of year, or those down on their luck. With all that we will do over the course of the next two weeks, will we take the time to really give of ourselves. Will we even do the small things like smile, open a door, lend a helping hand, or wish others a Merry Christmas.
Chief Wiggles: Christmas
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The View From the Lines
If you have faith, please say a prayer for everyone in Iraq, Iraqis and Americans alike. And for the families of our soldiers, who'll spend Christmas with half a heart here and the other half across the world.
I got a phone call from Iraq today. Actually, I got two. The first one skipped to my voice mail when I didn't hear it ring from my position inside a wardrobe box trying desperately to get clothes into my closet. When I checked my voice mail message, I heard my brother's voice and threw a temper tantrum because I missed it by about 2 seconds. My 6 year old, in her infinate wisdom, suggested that I "star 69" Uncle back.

Which made me giggle insanely.
Air Force Family: The View From the Lines
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guest author: Thousand Sons in Discarded Lies:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Ahhh…Christmas! It's the most wonderful time of the year or so I'm told. People have a lot of opinions about it. Some happy, some sad. Some even angry. I, however, prefer to take a different Road…

"Melancholy, but pretty and hopeful at the same time." -Evariste

That's a good way to sum up my feelings about this time of year. I've had a love/hate relationship with Christmas for a long time. I love being with family, the home cooked meals, gifts, and what not. But a lot of the emotional baggage that seems to be delivered too, all dressed up in a red bow. I also hate the obligatory office parties that come up as well. If you don't go, you're looked down upon. 'Thousand Sons? Oh, that guy. He didn't come to the Christmas party this year; he's not a team player.'

I used to love Christmas completely when I was younger, because none of the bitterness had tainted it yet. The turning point was probably the year my parents divorced. Suddenly the holidays were no longer a time of celebration, but Renaissance style plotting. O Machiavelli, forget Florence! Christmas season is where the real politics are! Whom do you visit? Grandpa and grandma? Mom? Dad? Will someone feel slighted if you visit on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day? Does someone get relegated to a non-holiday day? Do you slip out early to visit another? Pair up with a partner that also has divorced parents and you've multiplied your woes tenfold! Worse yet, if you have no one...

Despite all this, I still love this time of year. Why? Because I like my holidays how I like my chocolate: not syrupy sweet, but dark, rich, and somewhat bittersweet. Every year I pull out my cd of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' and give it a listen. People tend to write off Charlie Brown and Peanuts because it's a kid thing, y'know, just a cartoon. But ol' Charles Schultz was a genius. You had to read between the lines but there was genuine emotion in Peanuts and a lot of it was dark. Attend you now, the words of Mr. Brown…

"Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me why do we have to have a holiday to emphasize it?"

"I just don't understand Christmas I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating the tree and stuff, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

You could never make a TV special like this for kids now! Poor Charlie Brown would be force-fed Prozac or something! Like some people I know, Schultz hid his sadness behind humour, but that didn't make his work sad. It gave it a complexity, a richness that made it multi-dimensional, like jazz. Not the new age tootling of Kenny G, but the soulful work of Vince Guaraldi the master. His instrumental of 'Christmas Time Is Here' inspired this little vignette in me:

The jazz trio is playing. You remember the song from your distant childhood. It's a song about Christmas but it evoked a melancholy in your heart even as a kid. You look about the smoke filled cabaret. All these lonely souls here on Christmas Eve. Come in out of the rain and cold, enjoying human company at a distance. Oh, the sound of the piano! The notes, crystal clear, dancing in air. You sip your scotch on the rocks, savoring the smokey flavor. Through your glass you see her. The brunette at the end of the bar. Do you know her? Maybe. Maybe no one really knows anyone. The bass grumbles and rumbles, you feel it in your soul. You flash back to your childhood briefly...through the sepia tone of your scotch haze...like a fever dream of color. That blue bike your old man gave to you all those years ago. Where is it now? Don't know. The session is winding up; you settle your tab with the man. You take one last drag off your cigarette, crush it out with authority. You put your overcoat on, ready to head out into the cold. You pause for a moment, looking at the denizens of this cabaret. Lonely like you, perhaps, but it was love of a kind that brought them here. Love of music, the need for companionship. Love is wonderful, no matter how small. "That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown," you murmur and head out the door into the night...

Along with the soulful ache there is also a beauty in jazz that is rare and wonderful. A magic that makes your eyes brim. This what made the marriage of ideas between Guaraldi and Schultz perfect. They were fellow travelers on the same Road….

So what is Christmas is really all about? In my opinion its not just about a day or trees or candy. It's the knowledge that no matter how bad it gets, how hard it is pushing that ol' rock up that hill, there is always beauty in the world. All year long. Like helping someone in need or sharing a laugh with a friend or finding a wildflower that grows up through the concrete.
Look for the beauty.
It's there.
You'll find it.
And that is the greatest gift of all...

And together we'll celebrate forever
In defiance of the winds that blow
My God in heaven
now I feel like I'm seven
And spirit calls to me as well
As if Christmas had made the winter warmer
Made a paradise from what was hell
As if a cold and frozen soul is warm to love
By loves own hand
So goes the prayer if for a day
Peace on earth
And good will to man.......
-Blues Traveler

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guest author: papijoe in Discarded Lies:
Two Jewish Children from Czechoslovakia
Two Jewish children from Czechoslovakia had found refuge from the Shoah in a Catholic orphanage. Their parents had arranged this just before being sent to Auschwitz. The boy called Juri was six and his ten year old sister was Judith.

They lived in fear of the strict nuns. They lived in fear of the cruelty of the other children. They lived in fear that they would never see their parents again. But the greatest fear was that one day that the German soldiers from the local garrison would discover they were Jews and take them away.

Schlomo Breznitz's Memory Fields vividly depicts the gnawing anxiety that the children struggled with daily. When Christmas arrived along with it came the prospect of a respite for the children, the nuns became less demanding, tantalizing smells started to emanate from the kitchen. To the delight of the children a sumptuous meal, reminiscent of the days before wartime rationing, was served, and the the boy Juri began to allow himself to relax and enjoy the celebration.

The peace was soon disturbed by the arrival of the Mother Superior and a distinguished guest. The commander of the Nazi garrison had come to pay a visit to the orphanage and brought a cake for them to enjoy. The appearance of the German smothered Juri with dread. He looked to Judith and she was also anxiously aware of the Kommandant.

After they had all had their cake they began to sing Christmas carols. The Kommandant whispered something to the Mother Superior. After a pause that might have been reluctance, she asked the children if anyone could sing "Silent Night" in German. She added that it would make the guest of honor very happy.

Judith and Juri rose as if spellbound, stood in front of the Kommandant, and took each other by the hand. They began to sing the German words to the achingly beautiful song.

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Alles schläft, einsam wacht
nur das traute hochheilige Paar
holder Knabe im lockigen Haar

The Kommandant mouthed the shapes of the lyrics without making a sound.

schlaf in himmlischer Ruh'

Suddenly Judith gasps and froze in shock. The song cut off, the unfinished part hung in the quiet room. After a moment of confusion, the terrible realization crashed in on Juri. In Czechoslovakia, only Jews would know the German words. They had been snared so artfully. And now the Kommandant beckoned for them to come closer.

As they stood before him he stroked Judith's head.

"Don't be afraid," he murmurred in German, "your mother and father will return."

The two children dissolved into tears as the one appointed to be their tormentor, comforted them.

A Christmas Mystery play with real children, innocent of drama and irony, for actors, opposite an sentimental Nazi, and a benevolently devious nun. And at the kernel of the Mystery is a power that stands this world on its head. The figure of a Wonderful Child Whose name is Salvation, conveyed through a celestial melody. And for those of us who yearn for a peace that is not submission to this world, who do our best in this life, all the while being homesick for Heaven, there for a brief time all that we strive against ourselves to attain is for a brief time given freely as a gift.

Here is my Christmas prayer for you, my invisible friends. May hosts of warrior angels protect our troops and those who support them while angels of comfort and song minister to their loved ones. May your spirits burn like a starry hearth in the cold winter of space. May the Heavens open above you and torrents of Peace wash away all care fear and doubt. And may your hearts become beachheads, outposts, and finally strongholds in this world for an invasion of Love.

And may God bless us all this Christmas.
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guest author: Semite5000 in Discarded Lies:
First Week Completed
Well, I've been here for about one week now and so far so good. My body has acclimated well to the Korean diet and I feel energetic and healthy. I'm sleeping well at night and thriving off of having three well-balanced meals a day. I joined a gym about four days ago and have been working out regularly since.

Teaching is going well so far, but the trickiest part is that each class has kids who are at different levels of English proficiency. What might be over the head of one student might be a boring review for another. Of course, something I can offer that a Korean English teacher cannot is proper pronunciation.

Last night all of us American English teachers and the principals of our respective schools went to Seocho City Hall and we met the mayor of Seocho. It was a very nice and formal event. We sat in his spacious office and he gave a speech which was translated. He let us know how much they appreciated our willingness to travel to Korea and he wanted us to know we should feel free to tell them about any discomforts, etc. He also passed out a little flyer in Korean and English that read the following:

"Freedom is not free
Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.
Korea 1950 - 1953"
The quote was taken from the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC, which the Mayor visited a few years ago. He went on to thank us for what our country did for South Korea during the Korean War. I was very touched to hear such heartfelt gratitude, especially considering how in vogue it has become to criticize and hate America these days. At least somebody appreciates us!
After the speech the mayor presented each one of us with a gift- watches sporting the Seocho City logo. I am wearing mine now and will always cherish this gift (plus it's nice to have a watch and know what time it is!).
Then we were taken to a really nice restaurant and treated to a delicious meal. As usual the table was filled with various side dishes: a couple types of kimche, salad, spicy bean paste, little anchovy thingies and the main course- thinly cut beef strips. The beef is cooked at the table. Each table has a burner in the center with a dome shaped metal covering. First sesame-infused oil is poured into the bottom of the metal dome where it is heated. Then the beef is placed on the hot dome, along with mushrooms, scallions and bean sprouts. We also added pieces of raw garlic. The meat had a wonderful sweet flavor. Later, once the oil has soaked up the vegetables, meat and garlic flavors, it is spooned out and added to rice or whatever you want. Mmmm good. After that we drank a sweet beverage that had soft pieces of rice floating on the top. It was really good.
I got into a conversation with a Korean guy who used to work in the mayor's office. He spoke excellent English and I told him about my shock at reading about South Korean students protesting against the US some months ago. He explained that some of those protests were the handy work of North Korean agents who infiltrate the South and cause trouble on campuses by taking advantage of many students' youthful idealism, trying to turn them into angry young revolutionary leftists. He said many of those students forgot or never really learned what happened during the Korean war. I mentioned that I had been heartened when I later read about thousands of older Koreans who counter-protested the anti-American rallies.
It is fascinating how much a difference decent government makes. North and South Korea made up of same people. They share the same culture, history and language. Yet North Korea is nightmare state with gulags, famine and extreme poverty. Meanwhile South Korea democratic society, it is open, free and wealthy.
Well, gotta teach my last class for the day. Take care y'all.
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