serious

Reading matter.

Firstly, this article from the Black Commentator, nominally on "Why Black Americans should oppose the war" - but fascinating reading for anyone, I'd say, because of its take on the possible impact on the global oil trade. Thanks to dryad_wombat for pointing it out.

Heavy demand makes winter fuel prices the highest of the year, and prices spike when an oil producer like Iraq is attacked. Best to fight in the spring and summer when prices are low. That's just the first lesson in the nexus between oil, money, time and the taking of other people's property by force.

On a darker and stranger note, mr_tom pointed out this article from the Miami New Times about a somewhat intense oral mythos that has grown up among homeless children. I read this at one in the morning, which I'm not sure is to be recommended. It was quite unsettling.
Myths Over Miami
I first read that article early last year, and since then I've read it over and over and over. It's beautiful, touching, sad, amazing, but I still can't quite fathom how I fully feel about it.
I would have more faith in the Black Commentator writer's analysis if he had realised that one really good reason for Norway not adopting the Euro is that they're not actually in the EU at all ...
They did, on the other hand, recently reject EU membership, which would probably have meant that they would have gone down the EMU path.
There are several other errors. The UK has a signifigantly bigger economy than France, for a start. But overall, the central point of the peice - that pricing oil in euros would "would make 1929 look like a $50 casino bet" - is a piece of crap. It is a well written article, but that can't support nonsense like that presumption.

Ack, I was going to argue about it more, but I just can't bring myself to. Anyone who has had the misfortune to be around finance as much as I have had won't need to hear it. Do you know how long it takes to turn 100 million dollars in euros? A few seconds. Spot FX dealers are almost the lowest of the low - only repo traders are worse ...
Iraq and all that
Hmmmm - saw a very good show on PBS over here about the hawks and doves in the current administration. Very interesting, but not much that someone reading the Economist or similar will have missed. More like clarifying stuff I already knew than presenting a totally new angle. A few things to pull out tho':

1) After Powell and Rice, the most important dove around GWB is actually .... Bush snr. A hard one to get ones head around maybe, but if it weren't for Pappy the US would probably already have moved against Iraq - last summer or so.

2) The administration is very happy to have people think its about oil. It isn't. Oil is a piece of the picture, but thinking that oil is the big picture is wrong. Thats like thinking that the US went into Vietnam to secure Vietnam's rice exports. Its more down to the kind of geo-politics that we knew and loved under our old friend, "Dr" HK. And who can blame the US - who would want their only projection of power in the Middle East to be thru Isreal? Better to have a liberated people or two in your pocket - just like they liberated Chile from the threat of democracy. The TV show was interesting in that they showed a lot of photos from "behind the scenes" of GWB's inner circle. Guess who's face kept showing up, just in the frame of one photo after another? Step forward the good doctor ...

I'm sure than eventually we will have a term for hawkish geo-politics - Kissingerian would seem to fit the bill.
Re: Iraq and all that
I tend to say, if asked, that it's about oil not in the sense that the US wants to have direct management of Middle Eastern oil reserves, but in that the area is important because of the oil, and that's why outside nations take so much interest in what sort of governments the area has.

Kissinger. Yes. I must dig MDC's "Henry Kissmyassinger" out for a disco sometime soon. It's only ten seconds long. Nobody'll object. Anyway, there was an article a few years ago about the fact that any foreign leader who visits the US and is actually taken seriously be the US Govt goes to see Dr. K. Young Tone was no exception. Still very definitely a mover-and-shaker.
La Llorona
Caution: heavy markup for the Texan impaired.

The Miami New Times piece on the folklore of shelter kids was fascinating and disturbing because of a couple of points where it clearly intersects with my life. The fact that I remember David "I spent three years in 3rd grade" Lavios used to try to get all the boys in the restroom to chant "Bloody Mary" with him over and over during recess, year in and year out in primary school means that, if we believe the claim that the Bloody Mary myth arose ~20 years ago, I was among the first generation of American schoolchildren to know this myth.

Honestly, I doubt that, given our proximity to one of the other myths mentioned, that of la Llorona. Mexican culture has been replete with Llorona stories since at least the days of the Republic of the Rio Grande, and we used to sing songs about her in high school choir (conducted by Mr. Robert Silva... you have no idea how timing lends to the creepiness of the NMT article). Everyone knew of la Llorona. Tomas, the sexton at the Episcopal vicarage, had a daughter whose no-goodnik husband had supposedly been killed by her, although all we could say for sure was he had been killed by the Rio. The folklore of homeless Brownsville punks in the 1980s (meaning they were too strung out for my mother to feed them pancakes and let them flop in our garage) was that la Llorona was the special guardian of the shemale prostitutes in Market Square.

Given that Bloody Mary was, in the boys' loo at Sharp Elementary School in 1979, an avenging angel who punished those who harmed children, she sounds a lot more like la Llorona to me than like something totally new, even if we don't understand where the bit about the mirror came from (although I remember someone (Narcissus?) in mythology getting stuck in a reflection in a pool of water, FWIW).

I have a bad feeling I'm not going to sleep at all well tonight, with childhood memories of revenants and diablos and Mark Kilroy's narcotrafficante killers running though my brain. Ah, to have grown up in a city famous only for building collapses, hurricanes, and satanic drug smuggling cults!
Re: La Llorona
(Anonymous)
"Handle's Messiah"?

-X.