Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Friday, November 19, 2004
Poppy's Revenge

The Afghan heroin Poppy is making a modest return to the dark corners of the selectively infotaining US media, this morning, with the New York Times, among a very few others, reporting news that’s, unless you are a major radio personality, kind of a downer:

Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan…was up sharply this year, reaching the highest levels in the country's history…More than 321,236 acres of land were planted with poppy in 2004, a 64 percent increase over last year, the United Nations survey found. Poppy has spread to every province in the country, it said. It was only by chance that drought and disease ravaged much of the crop and prevented the harvest from exceeding the all-time high, the report said. The harvest in 2004 was estimated at 4,200 metric tons, an increase of 17 percent from last year.

The web site of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, yesterday, published frightening information that has become tragically obvious, though no less covered by our local press, to families here in red state Kentucky concerning heroin’s increasingly rural distribution.
The CADCA republished this week’s Fax from the Maryland Center for Substance Abuse Research:

Heroin prices are lower in New York City…than in the non-metropolitan areas of the mid-Hudson region ($10 vs. $20-$25 per bag). Due to this price disparity, heroin dependent users from the suburbs travel to New York City to buy cheap heroin, then return to the suburbs to sell it at a higher rate to defray the cost of their habits. These dependent street dealers are known as “jugglers”… Jugglers also recruit new users—and thus promote heroin diffusion—by tricking them into using heroin, most often by misrepresenting it as cocaine.

The Narcosphere reports on a public hearing held yesterday in Boston, Massachusetts:

The Boston Public Health Commission's substance abuse services testified that addiction rates of certain drugs, especially heroin, are increasing, with a large fraction of the abusers being young people under 25 years old…Due to recent budget cuts, the number of spots available in drug recovery programs has gone from almost 1000 in 2001 to closer to 400 beds today, said the director of the substance abuse services: "Now, if someone who comes in to our offices wanting to deal with their addiction, but doesn't have health insurance, they are not guaranteed a bed in a recovery center.

The Narcosphere report also, interestingly, stated:

Federal financial and investigative branches are unwilling to prosecute banks and seize drug money accounts, even though they know which banks and accounts are involved in laundering, and are allowed by law to seize such accounts.

Photo: Google Images

Thursday, November 18, 2004
An ordinary morning at the gym ended on an oddly sinister note that swelled into a ominous chord when, later, I watched the orchestrated festivity and torrential rains surrounding the opening ceremony at Bill Clinton’s privately and federally funded attempt at immortality.

Arriving at the gym after the morning rush, I ended today’s routine by dressing in a nearly empty locker room.
While quietly drying my feet, a habit deeply ingrained from horrifying Army films on neglected extremities, two men, deep in conversation, came into the room and opened lockers that, while out of my line of sight, were close enough to overhear even whispered discussions.
The men obviously felt the locker room was empty.
They were reviewing their plan to force certain members of their church from the congregation.
The plan, as I overheard it, seemed sinfully devious and grew in nefarious detail as I, increasingly interested, listened to the expanding outline.
Their victims, as these two men described them, were oblivious to the game.
Indeed, the planners, as evidence of their hatching plan’s eventual success, mocked the target’s belief in the very friendship that would force their exile.
I felt sick hearing the ugly intent of this discussion but I was unable to force my attention elsewhere.
This overheard conversation seemed more than the usual behind the altar hoohaw besetting the temporal focus of your ordinary run of the mill neighborhood church.
Finally, getting to the meat of the issue, the one fellow said, “And then we’ll be rid of him.”
His church mate and gym companion asked, “Just him? Not the others?”
His co conspirator replied, “What others?”
The companion said with ever more increasing ferocity, “Why all the other liberal Democrats.”
Quietly laughing the friend said, “There really aren’t that many of ‘em,” paused and appearing to recognize the depth of their sin said quietly, “Shhh!”
By this point I was dressed, without my glasses and standing half inside a connecting companionway.
One of the fellows, a little man nude and pink, stepped away from his locker and saw me standing there.
He sort of paused and, curiously considering his regular highly involved church attendance, made no motion to cover himself.
I hope my face reflected my thoughts but without my glasses I could not see the expression on his little pink blur of a face.
I was revolted.
How many other post-election cabals and “cleansings” among the lesser lights were being similarly hatched across America thanks to the ugliness of the recently concluded Presidential campaign and the implied conduct of the various politicians and enablers since?
Can the toothpaste of democracy ever be jammed back inside what is looking to be an increasingly fascist or imperial tube?
The conversation left my mind with the intrusion of regular activities until I had the misfortune to watch a few brief moments of the ceremony at the Clinton Library on one of the cable channels.
Without wanting to appear naive or beset with the increasingly popular sense of conspiracy, I must admit to feeling somewhat shocked with the presence of both Presidents Bush, President and Senator Clinton and even, though relegated offstage and out of the realm of cults of personality and privately funded pyramids, the Kerry’s.
It all seemed so revoltingly convivial and at odds with the depression and nightmares that have accompanied my last few elections.
What gives?
Just who are these bloodless, dare I say, people?
Are we, the worker bees or grist for the mill, just so much backdrop and tapped purse to this humdrum pharonic pageantry?
It’s all becoming just a bit too revolting to eyes more accustomed to weary G.I. faces, the elderly’s fear and metropolitan decay.
I guess I’m glad old heartsick Bill has his temple, eternity and the friendship of the very Bushes who tried to destroy him even as it mocks the last two years, if not more, of ugly national conduct.
Will any of these new American gods find the time in their busy schedules to dash off a quick note to my gym conspirators and others like them across our torn country?
Dear Mr. and or Mrs. Blank, Thanks for the blood and cash but we were only kidding. The pogrom has been rescheduled until 2006 or 8 so please make kissy-face with your demonized neighbors, return the feathers to your torn pillows and reduce the heat under those bubbling pots of pitch because all is well in America.
Isn’t it?

Gold & Gangsters

Bactrian gold protected by the ancient Afghan talwildar tradition.

The gangsters of the world
Are riding high.
It's not the underworld
Of which I speak.
They leave that loot to smaller fry.
Why should they great Capone's
Fallen headpiece seek
When stolen crowns
Sit easier on the head--
Or Ethiopia's band of gold
For higher prices
On the market can be sold--
Or Iraq oil--
Than any vice or bootleg crown of old?
The gangsters of the world ride high--
But not small fry.

Gangsters--Langston Hughes, September, 1941

Images: National Geographic

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Bye Bye Biscuit

A turkey triangle?

President Bush is shown throttling “Biscuit” the national Thanksgiving turkey before horrified members of the press assembled in the Rose Garden earlier today.
Unconfirmed reports indicate the presidential turkeycide was initiated after an intensely jealous Mr. Bush misunderstood aides discussing “turkey and rice” prior to the traditional ceremony.
Biscuit, a West Virginia native and a tom or male turkey, seemed an unlikely threat to the President’s “body language” relationship with his Secretary of State designate, but, of course, stranger things have happened in Washington.
Funeral arrangements for Biscuit have not yet been announced though the President indicated his desire to see the bird lie in state at “375 degrees at 10 minutes per pound”.

Say Cheese

The Moon's SMART view

The European Space Agency’s Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology or SMART 1 spacecraft snapped this image of the Earth’s Moon as it entered a lunar orbit yesterday.
The spacecraft’s Xenon ion drive began firing on November 15 at 6:24 Central European Time and will continue its orbit stabilization burn for another full day.

Modified and unmodified Images: Reuters, ESA

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

aaaaaaModified Reuters photos

...Now the "ugly duckling" knew why she had felt so much love for the beautiful swans, and she knew she was as beautiful herself as they were.
The swans recognized her too, as one of them, and they swam around her stroking her with their beaks...

Monday, November 15, 2004
Seeing Red?
Are you, dear reader, enjoying our deranged media’s pathetic attempts to hype the tiniest Presidential victory since 1828 into a massive electoral bulge?
Is massive military victory accompanied by “pockets of resistance” dimming the light at the end of your particular tunnel?
Have roundtables pitting right-wingers from the American Enterprise Institute against right-wingers from the Heritage Foundation prior to in-depth interviews with Kristallnacht-fan Dr. James Dobson kept you on the edge of your big comfy chair?
Are you dying to know who was invited to Condi’s late night all-girl 50th birthday bash after the party-pooping President and First Lady left the scene?
Or, like me, have you powered-down the aging post-millennial toob reserving its charged particles for the occasional old movie from those gay pre-imperial days?
If something terribly bad happens I’m sure a neighbor will call.
Oddly, there is news to be had and some of it uplifting if one keeps their electric surfboard carefully waxed.

Opportunity image of the inner wall of Endurance Crater.

I’ve made it a habit to periodically check NASA’s Mars Rover site as the intrepid little robots continue to crank out data and breath-taking images.
Though lost to the media’s crap-packed cycle, Opportunity and Spirit continue to amaze 10 months after their miraculous landings.
NASA maintains a vast assortment of images taken by the robotic explorers for interested residents of the 3rd planet.
I really enjoy downloading a large image file and getting lost in a real alien landscape yet uncluttered by corporations and right wing think tanks.

The SMART 1 craft

A bit closer to our blue and white home the Xenon ion drive onboard the European Space Agency’s SMART 1 Moon probe will begin delicate maneuvers, tonight, to spiral the solar-electric craft into a close orbit ranging between 300 to 3,000 kilometers from the lunar surface, according to a report from those leftist devils at the BBC.
The always-excellent Beeb has an informative graphic explaining how an Ion drive works and links to related stories, the ESA’s SMART 1 site and the breath-taking Particle Physic and Astronomy Research Council’s site.
Go, my friends, and unclog your mind with a vista beyond our own puckered navels.

Photos: NASA, ESA

Sunday, November 14, 2004
Hot "Pockets
of Resistance"

An Iraqi youth walks past a blazing pipeline near the town of Taji, November 14, 2004 after it was attacked by insurgents.

Photo: Reuters

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