Archive for October, 2007

PEJ Study: Big Media "tabloidizes" US political journalism

October 31, 2007

I recently blamed punditry for much of what’s wrong with American politics. I decried how the US public tends to read polls and columns to make positioning calculations. Political coverage is confined to candidates with “star quality”. Instead of issues, policy, and analysis, we get the tabloidization of American political journalism. Would John Edwards beat Guiliani? Can Hillary Clinton win the center? Can Obama keep the black vote while courting a “white” center? Tragically for America, decisions based on who might “win” rather than who is right or best qualified almost always result in the election of candidates that are neither right nor qualified.

Now –I’ve got a hard study to back me up. It’s by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy

In the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, the media had already winnowed the race to mostly five candidates and offered Americans relatively little information about their records or what they would do if elected, according to a comprehensive new study of the election coverage across the media.

The study has the hard numbers to back up a summary conclusion:

In all, 63% of the campaign stories focused on political and tactical aspects of the campaign. That is nearly four times the number of stories about the personal backgrounds of the candidates (17%) or the candidates� ideas and policy proposals (15%). And just 1% of stories examined the candidates� records or past public performance, the study found.

Nor is the media without bias. Some candidates can’t seem to buy favorable coverage. Others -like Barack Obama and Fred Thompson -seem to be enjoying a honeymoon.

The press also gave some candidates measurably more favorable coverage than others. Democrat Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, enjoyed by far the most positive treatment of the major candidates during the first five months of the year�followed closely by Fred Thompson, the actor who at the time was only considering running. Arizona Senator John McCain received the most negative coverage�much worse than his main GOP rivals.

I suppose that just proves how out of touch I am. I have yet to hear Obama say anything that was not obviously vetted, coached and rehearsed. As for Thompson –ah well! What can one say about an ugly mug and uglier political philosophy? I might as well shout at a wall. Big Media has already decided that Thompson, the least attractive candidate in any party, is, nevertheless “Presidential” material. How bloody absurd!

The press� focus on fundraising, tactics and polling is even more evident if one looks at how stories were framed rather than the topic of the story. Just 12% of stories examined were presented in a way that explained how citizens might be affected by the election, while nearly nine-out-of-ten stories (86%) focused on matters that largely impacted only the parties and the candidates. Those numbers, incidentally, match almost exactly the campaign-centric orientation of coverage found on the eve of the primaries eight years ago.

The public, however, shares my sense of disaffection and outrage. The Pew Research Center for People and the Press reports that the public is just as fed up with this evil system as am I. Seventy-seven percent against 17 percent want more coverage of issues and less punditry, bullshit and claptrap. Fifty-seven percent want real debates. Only 42 percent want more news about which candidate is leading in the poll du jour while fifty five percent want more news about candidates that are not deemed by big media to be “front-runners”. Among other findings from the PEJ-Shorenstein study:

  • Just five candidates have been the focus of more than half of all the coverage. Hillary Clinton received the most (17% of stories), though she can thank the overwhelming and largely negative attention of conservative talk radio hosts for much of the edge in total volume. Barack Obama was next (14%), with Republicans Giuliani, McCain, and Romney measurably behind (9% and 7% and 5% respectively). As for the rest of the pack, Elizabeth Edwards, a candidate spouse, received more attention than 10 of them, and nearly as much as her husband.
  • Democrats generally got more coverage than Republicans, (49% of stories vs. 31%.) One reason was that major Democratic candidates began announcing their candidacies a month earlier than key Republicans, but that alone does not fully explain the discrepancy.
  • Overall, Democrats also have received more positive coverage than Republicans (35% of stories vs. 26%), while Republicans received more negative coverage than Democrats (35% vs. 26%). For both parties, a plurality of stories, 39%, were neutral or balanced.
  • Most of that difference in tone, however, can be attributed to the friendly coverage of Obama (47% positive) and the critical coverage of McCain (just 12% positive.) When those two candidates are removed from the field, the tone of coverage for the two parties is virtually identical.
  • There were also distinct coverage differences in different media. Newspapers were more positive than other media about Democrats and more citizen-oriented in framing stories. Talk radio was more negative about almost every candidate than any other outlet. Network television was more focused than other media on the personal backgrounds of candidates. For all sectors, however, strategy and horse race were front and center.

Democrats might be excused for seeming to acquiesce in this tabloidization of political coverage. It was not so long ago that Democrats couldn’t buy a good story. Still, media fixation with every aspect of politics but issues is evidence of insidious media cynicism, an entrenched belief that Americans will not read or understand a story unless is has star quality and celebrity in it.

There is nothing democratic about a system inherently biased in favor of the “superstars” of big media –Obama, Clinton, Thomspon, Guiliani. There is nothing democratic about a system in which candidates like Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich are discounted out of hand, not because they are not strong on issues but because they haven’t gotten benediction from the poohbahs of big media. There is nothing democratic or fair about a system that discounts your preference because you are not or have not read the poohbahs du jour!

I recently endorsed Mike Gravel because Mike has an impeccable record in the US Senate and because his position is real and absolutely right. Sadly, last time I checked, Democratic “procedure”, was freezing Gravel out of what passes for “debate”. Fortunately, I can still support Kucinich but resent having to make decisions based on a “political reality” that ought NOT to be a “political reality”.

Why can’t we have a system in which one may vote one’s conscience? Why must we have a system in which one worries about “wasting” one’s vote on a third party candidate who may be the best in the field. Why can’t we abandon the absurd electoral college? Why can’t we select the eventual winner based upon national totals via a Borda count, a range vote or some other system that has been shown to better and more accurately reflect the will of the “people”.

A better system will encourage a richer field, especially if the reforms should coincide with the abolition of the absurdly long and boring system of primaries. If elections had been conducted on a more scientific basis, George W. Bush could not have stolen the White House –even with help from DieBold. There is much literature available about alternative voting systems. The science dates back, at least, to the 18th Century. Google “range voting“, “Borda Count“, “alternative voting systems”. You’ll get plenty of reading material.

It’s bad enough that my votes are stolen by DieBold. It’s bad enough that the US Supreme Court would presume to anoint a phony President with a creative, “Alice in Wonderland” interpretation of the 14th Amendment. It is bad enough that candidates are bought and paid for because the very expense of a campaign militates against those who may be most qualified. But a system about which it is accurately charged that by supporting either candidate, my vote is wasted is absolutely intolerable. As long as this evil status quo is maintained and supported, America will continue to get –not the brightest and best –but the slick, the bought and the paid for.

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Happy HELLoween & HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

October 31, 2007

To all witches, worlocks, shamen, athiests, agnostics, pagans and ESPECIALLY SATANISTS, oh yeah and y’all toothless 22%er sacks of crap inbreed jesus freaks who need me to bust a cap in yo ass then hit the 3-wheel motion on yo carcass while I blast NWA:

HAPPY FUCKING HELLoween!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now watch the timeless classics by


and ENJOY:

Mr. 44″:


“Gett Your Gunn” (damn good Marilyn Manson cover!):

“Highway To Hell” (fuckin’ AWESOME AC/DC cover! PLEASE blast this!):

we r indian we prove……….Mukesh Ambani is the richest person in the world

October 31, 2007

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani today became the richest person in the world, surpassing American software czar Bill Gates, Mexican business tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and famous investment guru Warren Buffett, courtesy the bull run in the stock market.

Following a strong share price rally today in his three group companies — India’s most valued firm Reliance Industries, Reliance Petroleum and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Ltd — the net worth of Mukesh Ambani rose to 63.2 billion dollars (Rs 2,49,108 crore).

In comparison, the net worth of both Gates and Slim is estimated to be slightly lower at around 62.29 billion dollars each, with Slim leading among the two by a narrow margin.

Warren Buffett, earlier the third richest in the world, also dropped one position with a net worth of about 56 billion dollars.

Ambani’s wealth of about Rs 2,49,000 crore includes about Rs 2,10,000 crore from RIL (50.98 per cent stake), Rs 37,500 crore from RPL (37.5 per cent) and Rs 2,100 crore from RIIL (46.23 per cent).

Slim’s wealth has been calculated on the basis of his stake in companies like America Movil (30 per cent), Carso Global (82 per cent), Grupo Carso (75 per cent), Inbursa (67 per cent), IDEAL (30 per cent) and Saks Inc (10 per cent).

According to information available with the US and Mexican stock exchanges where these companies are listed, Slim currently holds shares worth a total of USD 62.2993 billion, with more than half coming from Latin American mobile major America Movil. Slim is closely followed by Gates with a net worth of 62.29 billion dollars currently.

Congratulations Dr. Zeromeh Campbell

October 30, 2007

Story from The Jamaica Gleaner

Dr. Zeromeh Campbell is now doing a paediatric residency programme at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.
Zeromeh Campbell’s happiness and joy at realising her dream is infectious and heart-warming. After several years of hard work and sacrifice, the young Jamaican woman graduated as a medical doctor in May 2007 from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. She is now doing a paediatric residency programme at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

“The happiest moment in my entire life was on graduation day. I was first in my class and I was really bawling when I realised I was finally graduating. I was so happy! I was overwhelmed!” she said.

What was really awesome was the fact that she won not one, not two, but 10 awards on graduation day. Among the awards were:

The Bertran F. Cooper M.D. Class of 1978 Memorial Award, for students who have outstanding achievement in paediatrics;

The Merck Manual Award ’07, to students who have achieved the highest scholastic records during their years of medical study;

The Grafton Rayner and Edna Spriggs Browne Award, given to the student with the highest cumulative average in her class;

The HUMAA (Howard University Medical Alumni Association) award, to the student who has attained the highest scholastic average in her class.

Wanted to be a doctor

She is one of those people who knew early on in life exactly what they want to do with their life. She always wanted to be a doctor. So throughout the years at Holy Childhood Preparatory School and Immaculate Conception High School, she kept the dream alive. Moreover, she “loved her own paediatrician in Jamaica, Dr. Heather White,” and that helped her to focus on what her life’s work would be.

Zeromeh was so focused on becoming a doctor and specialising as a paediatrician that even while at school she did some volunteering at the Bustamante Children’s Basic School in 1995. “I would spend time playing with the children and feeding some of those who could not feed themselves,” she said.

Her deep interest was in studying the sciences and it paid off in her results at high school. After overcoming that first hurdle, she moved up to the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, where she studied for the B.Sc. in pre-professional biology.

At Florida Tech, she was a member and then vice-president of the Caribbean Students Association (CSA) and a member of the Phi Eta Sigma Honour Society there.

She graduated with highest honours in 2002, and then she took one year off to work.

In 2003 Zeromeh entered Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study medicine. Howard University College of Medicine (HUCM) opened as a medical department in 1868, just three years after the end of the Civil War in the United States.

What was it like for the young Jamaican to study at the historically black Howard University College of Medicine?

“I loved it,” she responded enthusiastically to my question.

After many years spent in training there she looked back in 2007 and said, “I needed to be at Howard University. There were many people there who I could emulate.”

Zeromeh lived in nearby Alexandria in Virginia with two friends who had also gone to Immaculate Conception High School while she studied at Howard University. She either drove or took the train to school.

Between 2004 and 2005, Zeromeh, was a MedStars tutor at Howard. She supported and tutored freshmen in medical school, held weekly sessions with them to go over challenging topics in the curriculum and shared useful study strategies.

She also became a member of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA); the Student National Medical Association (SNMA); Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honour Society Gamma Chapter at Howard University College of Medicine (HUMC); and treasurer for Physicians for Human Rights. In her capacity as treasurer she helped to co-ordinate the first Annual Health Disparities Conference of the HUMC.

Zeromeh has also given volunteer service. Most recently she assisted with the Good Shepherd After-School care programme and from April 2006 to May 2007 attended group therapy with the Paediatric AIDS/HIV Care programme that offers basic interaction and support for 13 to 15 year-old boys and girls affected directly or indirectly by the disease.

In 2006 “we (medical students) had to decide what we wanted to do,” she said. Most of the hospitals where she wanted to continue her training to become a paediatrician were located either in the southern United States or on the West Coast.

“I was so glad when I found out in March that I got my second choice – to go to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.”

She is now doing a three-year paediatric residency programme at Baylor College, with training done mainly at the Texas Children’s Hospital. That hospital is affiliated with Baylor. Texas Children’s Hospital is the largest children’s hospital in the United States and an internationally recognised paediatric hospital. It is located in the Texas Medical Centre in Houston.

“I ‘m comfortable in Houston,” she said when I asked her how she likes her new surroundings.

It will be another long period of training before she becomes a Paediatrician but having come thus far she is determined to reach her goal. “I am happy how everything has worked out. My mother is very proud of the fact that I was one of the students who scored the highest possible marks in the National Board Exams.

“I made a lot of sacrifices and had many sleepless nights, but I believe when you have a dream you should go for it and always seek after learning,” she said.

Another dream she has yet to fulfil is to return to Jamaica to what she considers “her dream job – working at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.”

Bonita Jamaica
Beautiful Place. Amazing People.

See you in Jamaica.

Rumsfeld is warned: �A torturer is an enemy of all humankind�

October 30, 2007

Former US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld now faces criminal charges in France for ordering the torture of prisoners in Iraq and at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Charges aganst Rumsfeld were filed with a French court while Rumsfeld was in Paris for talks sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine.

The charges, supported by some of the world�s most prominent human rights law groups, formally charge Rumsfeld with “….authorizing and ordering torture”.

Those responsible have rarely been called to account. Nonetheless, the need to prosecute those responsible for atrocities has been recognised ever since the International Military Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo. The impunity of responsible persons abets new crimes. The recourse to legal instruments is becoming ever more important in order to effectively uphold human rights.

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)

ECCHR is joined by the French League for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and other groups throughout Europe.

Can similar charges against Bush be far behind?

�Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide,� Ratner [ECCHR] added in a statement after filing the complaint. �A torturer is an enemy of all humankind.�

The charges against Rumsfeld were brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.

The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation, it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.

Ratner and his colleagues in France�s legal community contend that Rumsfeld and other top US officials are subject to criminal trial because there is sufficient evidence to prove that they had authorized the torture of prisoners held on suspicion of involvement in terrorist acts.

�France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute Rumsfeld,� said FIDH president Souhayr Belhassen. �It has no choice but to open an investigation.�

Rumsfeld Charged with Torture in French Court

It was Rumsfeld�s presence on French soil that gives French courts jurisdiction to prosecute him. Pssst! Don’t tell Bush about this.

According to Raw Story Bush ordered ‘torture’ tactics himself, giving “marching orders” to Gen. Michael Dunlavey. The general claims that he then asked the Pentagon to approve the “harsher interrogation methods at Guantanamo”

More than 100,000 pages of newly released government documents demonstrate how US military interrogators “abused, tortured or killed” scores of prisoners rounded up since Sept. 11, 2001, including some who were not even suspected of having terrorist ties, according to a just-published book.

In Administration of Torture, two American Civil Liberties Union attorneys detail the findings of a years-long investigation and court battle with the administration that resulted in the release of massive amounts of data on prisoner treatment and the deaths of US-held prisoners.

“[T]he documents show unambiguously that the administration has adopted some of the methods of the most tyrannical regimes,” write Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh. “Documents from Guantanamo describe prisoners shackled in excruciating ‘stress positions,’ held in freezing-cold cells, forcibly stripped, hooded, terrorized with military dogs, and deprived of human contact for months.”

Most of the documents on which Administration of Torture is based were obtained as a result of ongoing legal fights over a Freedom of Information Act request filed in October 2003 by the ACLU and other human rights and anti-war groups, the ACLU said in a news release.

The documents show that prisoner abuse like that found at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was hardly the isolated incident that the Bush administration or US military claimed it was. By the time the prisoner abuse story broke in mid-2004 the Army knew of at least 62 other allegations of abuse at different prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors report.

The ACLU also found that an Army investigator reported Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in overseeing the interrogation of a Guantanamo prisoner Mohammed al Qahtani. The prisoner was forced to parade naked in front of female interrogators wearing women’s underwear on his head and was led around on a leash while being forced to perform dog tricks.

�It is imperative that senior officials who authorized, endorsed, or tolerated the abuse and torture of prisoners be held accountable,” Jaffer and Singh write, “not only as a matter of elemental justice, but to ensure that the same crimes are not perpetrated again.� …

Raw Story, General claims Bush gave ‘marching orders’ on aggressive interrogation at Guantanamo

Amid these revelations comes news that the prosecution of Blackwater on murder charges has run into a snag. The US State Department had given the US sponsored terrorist organization, Blackwater, immunity from prosecution. Only persons planning to commit crimes are interested in obtaining prior immunity from prosecution. It saves them having to cover it all up afterward.

Both Hitler and Stalin came to realize that it was possible to eradicate the unpredictability of human affairs in “the true central institution of totalitarian organizational power”: the concentration camp. What Arendt saw is that eradicating unpredictability requires altering the nature of human beings. In the camps the internees’ deprivation of all rights, even of the ability to make a conscientious choice, does away with the dynamic conflict between the legality of particular positive laws and the idea of justice on which, in constitutional governments, an open and unpredictable future depends. On the one hand, in Arendt’s concept of totalitarianism, human freedom is seen as inconsequential to “the undeniable automatism” of natural and historical processes, or at most as an impediment to their freedom. On the other, when “the iron band of terror” destroys human diversity, so totally dominating human beings that they cease to be individuals and become a mere mass of identical, interchangeable specimens “of the animal-species man,” those processes are provided with “an incomparable instrument” of acceleration.

[Hannah] Arendt’s concept and description of totalitarianism

A “state” wishing to eradicate “unpredictability of human affairs” must make of its own apparatus an inhuman machine utterly lacking empathy. SS members become mere interchangeable parts in a killing machine. Master and slave alike cease to be entirely human. This is the state as machine. Such a state requires its Auschwitz, its Abu Ghraib, its Guantanamo.

In World War I enemy aliens were regularly interned “as a temporary emergency measure,” (see “Memo: Research Project on Concentration Camps“) but later, in the period between World Wars I and II, camps were set up in France for non-enemy aliens, in this case stateless and unwanted refugees from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Arendt also noted that in World War II internment camps for potential enemies of democratic states differed in one important respect from those of World War I. In the United States, for instance, not only citizens of Japan but “American citizens of Japanese origin” were interned, the former maintaining their rights of citizenship under the Geneva Conventions while the latter, uprooted on ethnic grounds alone, were deprived of theirs by executive order and without due process.

Evil: The Crime against Humanity, Jerome Kohn, Director, Hannah Arendt Center, New School University

Nixon proclaimed: if the President does it, it’s not illegal. Nazis were only following orders. Blackwater was only following orders. And the resolution adopted at Wannsee made the Holocaust legal. The opinions of Yoo and Alberto, they would have you believe, relieved Bush of US obligations to Geneva. Now, we learn that Blackwater had been given immunity from prosecution!!

There is no crime that cannot be made “legal” by a tyrant, a suck up, or a liar! But that proposition is just one of the seemingly endless series of absurdities and outrages with which the GOP has oppressed the people of the US. What had been merely the very worst administration in US history has become one of the world’s most repugnant tyrannies. The opposition to Bush must now rally ’round an over arching objective: bringing Bush himself to justice in the US for capital crimes and to trial in a world court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace .

Naming Names at Gitmo

[NYT] Well into the night of Sunday, Jan. 2, 2005, lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz sat alone at his desk in the headquarters of the American detention center at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, consumed with a new project.

He often worked late. From the time Diaz enlisted in the Army as a 17-year-old high-school dropout, hard work had been his ticket. He had earned his college degree while serving as an artillery sergeant and then completed law school a semester early, driving a mail truck on the weekends. In 10 years as a Navy lawyer, his performance evaluations had been outstanding. As his six-month tour at Guantanamo neared its end, his stint as the deputy legal adviser there looked like more of the same. …

An update:

Kucinich questions Bush’s mental health

“Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich questioned President Bush’s mental health in light of comments he made about a nuclear Iran precipitating World War III.” The man who speaks the truth is the most sane. …

Additional resouces


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October 30, 2007


�He Works for the People of Illinois�
Republican for U. S. Senator
Suite 4406, 30 E. Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611-4723
Toll-free tel. (866) 706-2639
Toll-free fax (866) 707-2639
Web site:

October 30, 2007

Wade Thompson, Esq.
Jenner & Block
330 N. Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
via fax (312) 840-8713

Re: Martin v. Associated Press, Chicago Tribune
Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Docket No. 06 CH 1162

Latest antics by your client The Associated Press

Dear Mr. Thompson:

Today I filed nominating petitions in Springfield as a statewide candidate for United States Senator in the Republican Party primary.

In a stunning act of arrogance, and very likely a federal election law violation, the AP mentioned the filing of my primary opponent but erased my existence as a candidate from the news dispatch. See

My understanding was that the AP reported �news,� or facts, and did not use its franchise to engage in retaliatory behavior or doctor the news to suit the AP�s private agenda. To erase a candidate from an election report smacks of Soviet-era Russia.

I believe that the legal standard of a �reasonable person� would conclude that the AP is trying to destroy my candidacy for federal office in retaliation for my exposing AP�s biased reporting in Springfield and Chicago. As such, your actions constitute a contribution to my opponent since you have targeted a specific candidate and you are seeking to use the AP�s media power to destroy that candidate through erasure.

In the long run, your client’s actions may be counterproductive. AP’s acts of corporate arrogance and abuse of media power are more likely to make me a hero than a villain. People know the American news media is biased and corrupt; your client is only proving my accusations. Indeed, in the above-encaptioned lawsuit, set for hearing in December, I specifically alleged that AP had directed its reporters to censor any news of my campaign and to exclude me from the AP Daybook. AP’s latest actions seem to confirm the allegations in my lawsuit.

Americans are not fighting and dying in the Middle East so your firm can feel free to disseminate lies around the world. For shame.

Before I file suit I would like to (i) request a written and public apology and retraction from AP and a written agreement to cease and desist from future harassment and abuse; to (ii) notify you that AP�s actions appear to constitute an unlawful campaign contribution to a federal campaign, namely my opponent; and to (iii) advise you that if necessary I will be filing suit in Sangamon County where the false news originated.

AP subscribers have a right to believe that AP is providing impartial, accurate and complete factual news concerning election events. AP has now breached that covenant with its subscribers, as well as the public. I aim to see your client is made to obey the law. I will afford you up to and including November 5th to respond before I take further action.

I believe the behavior of your client is childish, self-destructive and profoundly ill-advised. Is AP acting on the basis of your legal counsel?

Sincerely yours,



cc: General Counsel, The Associated Press
450 W. 33rd St., New York, NY 10001

Diwali Puja how u prepare to ur self

October 30, 2007
The festival of Diwali is not just about worship of Goddess Lakshmi, firecrackers and sharing sweetmeats. But the traditional way of celebrating Diwali includes decorating your homes and offices with innovative crafts. The people love to prepare various crafts on the auspicious occasion of Diwali as the spirit of this festival encourages them to express their creativity. Decorating the Diwali-Puja thali is one such beautiful idea, which adds some more spiritualism to the festival of Diwali. Diwali has many legends and religious accounts to it. Lights and diyas are lit to signifying the driving away of darkness and ignorance, as well as the awakening of the light within ourselves. Diwali is a time for family gatherings, food, celebration and Pooja. The goddess Laxmi plays a major role in this festival, as do Ram and Sita. This autumn festival is celebrated for five continuous days, of which each one has its own significance.

Houses and Business places are renovated and decorated, entrances are made colorful with lovely traditional motifs of Rangoli designs to welcome Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. To indicate her long awaited arrival, small footprints are drawn with rice flour and vermilion powder (kumkum) all over the houses. Lamps are kept burning all through the nights.

Puja Thali:
A Puja thali is the plate in which all those accessories are kept that is required to perform the worship or the Puja of the God and Goddess such as the Roli for tilak, Akshat, Ghanti (bell), a small Kalash filled with water, Kalava to tie around the wrist, gold or silver coins, Aarti-diya and some colorful flowers. Thus the Puja-thali has special significance for the festival of Diwali in which the worship of Goddess Lakshmi is the main theme.

Puja Accessories
The Puja accessories required for worship on Diwali includes the following items: Roli for tilak, Akshat (the rice grains), Ghanti (bell), a small Kalash filled with water, Kalava or mauli to tie around the wrist, Aarti-diya, dhoop, agarbatti, camphor, coconut, betel, betel leaves, sandalwood paste, candles, flowers, seasonal fruits and sweetmeats as prasad and silver or gold coins having image of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, Om, Swastika or Shree.

Diwali festival – Fireworks and sweets

October 30, 2007

DIWALI is actually derived from the original name �Deepavali�. Deepa in Sanskrit means �light� and �avali� means a row. When literally translated, Deepavali means a �row of lights�. As per the Indian calendar it is celebrated on Amavasya (the new moon day) in the end of the month Ashwin, which ushers in the month of Karthik around October/ November every year.

Diwali is celebrated in north India in honor of Rama’s return to Ayodhya after he vanquished Ravana. He was also coronated as a king on the same day. It is celebrated twenty days subsequent to Vijayadasami. But in some states it is celebrated for different reasons. For instance, in Gujarat it is an event to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Bengalis worship Goddess Kali on this day. The celebrations are however quite uniform throughout the country.

Crackers are sine qua non for this festival. So more the noise the merrier it is. Homes are lit up for the festival with diyas-small oil lanterns.You have �rockets� which are highly whimsical in the way they veer. They can zip at you from out of the blue making you run for cover!!! Then you have deafening hydrogen bombs which can unnerve you by making your heart skip a beat. But the most pleasing sight, however, is that of little kids holding sparklers gleefully. The fountain like shower of a flower pot is also a spectacle worth a watch. So nylon clothes should not be worn on that day to preempt any hazards. Most of the large organisations in Northern and Western India present their employees and clients a boxful of sweets.

baby steps

October 29, 2007

“It is hard to have patience with people who say ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.
~C.S. Lewis

Death teaches us anger, frustration, an unconsolable sadness, what an inpenetrable hallow feels like, but Death too teaches us all humility-the ability to cry in front of others, dignity, and an appreciation for family bonds (that seem to tighten) and friendship.

I was fortunate to be out east at the farm when I recieved the call telling me that my Dad had died, and in that vertigo of anguish I was surrounded by 6 of the dearest friends I could ever wish on anyone; I was physically and emotionally held. Mummy Dearest left her beautiful, wonderful children and Hubby for 5 days to come home with me and take care of me and help me say goodbye to my Dad. And the love from friends has been poured over me so much in this time of grief: Amos called me from Bolivia. CJ, TSOldtimer, Christy, Mummy Dearest and Hubby, B1 & B2, Flava Flav and Lisa, and John O., all wonderful friends-spread all over the East Coast-have made me feel so supported; calling to check in.

Then I have been bombarded with such nice emails and calls from friends here in the Great Lakes State: K&L, Married K & J, College K, Chris, G Chris, Tom, Gregg, Mrock the house, Stac, Cathy, Miss cellaneous, Steph, Adele, Jessica, Tara, Victoria, Rakstar, Karen, Catholicland, among so many others. So many helping hands! Mummy Dearest and L especially made it possible for my family to not have to worry about all the chitlins-since my niece and nephew were out from Cali, that made 4 kids under 3 at the funeral home for 8 hours-keeping a watchful eye on the kids for us, tending to unforseen “bumps” in the road, and being ever so pleasant with my family. You two were amazing! No one ever wants to go through something like this. But having friends like these has made everything so much more bearable. So, thanks. I love you all. And thanks for all those who have been keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. It really means a lot.

Things are returning to some semblance of normal. As TSOldtimer prepares himself for Spain and all that lies in store, I too am preparing. Only simpler tasks, “baby steps,” for those of you out there who love “What about Bob?” as much as I do. Tomorrow I return back to my “normal” routine, though it feels as though normal never existed and nothing will ever seem right again. Baby steps. Everything feels so overwhelming and big right now.

Tomorrow, as I return back to classes and work, I just need to remind myself to breathe, put my pants on one leg at a time (putting pants on before I leave the house at all will be an improvement on today), and look at what I need to do to get through each hour, what I need to do to get through each day. And eventually I won’t have to tell myself to remember to smile at people…it will come naturally again.

And in typical tacky Monster Library Student style, thought this might make everyone laugh. I might just try this this year.

Electronic Books The Future Of Publishing

October 28, 2007

Traditional paperback books could soon become as obsolete as cassette tapes and LPs, as leading publishing houses start to print their books electronically.

In an age where children are more interested in having an iPod and a MySpace account than the complete works of Charles Dickens, publishers are turning to digital books in an attempt to attract younger audiences.