Monthly Archives: July 2003

Let’s Call It A Quagmire

Every day U.S. forces are coming under attack in Iraq. Pretty violent place, even after Saddam Hussein was ousted. 33 U.S. and U.K. soldiers have been killed since President Bush declared hostilities over on May 1. Guess he got that one wrong too. First he has to make up excuses to attack a third world country, and now he cannot tell the difference between violence and peace.

A grenade attack killed a U.S. soldier in Iraq on July 16, 2003, bringing the total combat deaths to 147, equaling the total in the 1991 Gulf War. The latest death heaped pressure on U.S President Bush, facing mounting criticism for the cost of the war and accusations the United States exaggerated intelligence on Iraq's weapons to justify the conflict. (Reuters Graphic)

The new U.S. general in Iraq, General John Abizaid, termed the conflict in Iraq a ‘classic guerrilla-type campaign’ in an interview today. That’s for damn sure.

Japan

I left for Tokyo at noon on Friday. Took the Narita Express into Shinjuku then headed out to Asagaya, where I stayed at the Hotel Amista. The hotel was nice, quiet, serviceable.

I thought the wedding was going to be a quick civil ceremony. I was wrong. It was a full-on Shinto wedding ceremony, a first for me. I took some pictures of the shrine. It was hot out. Very hot and muggy.

The happy couple Shrine among the trees

After the ceremony we headed off to the reception at Museum Tokyo. It was hot there. Very hot. I think ‘sweat lodge’ is a good description. It was a good time though, a couple bands played, a magician did some tricks, and the beer flowed freely. Nothing wrong with that. I did bail early from the party though – I desperately needed a cold shower.

Sunday I helped David and Keiko clean up at Museum Tokyo, then I got a quick tour of where David works. David lives in Tachikawa City, and I got the tour of his new home too. Then it was off to downtown Tokyo for some sightseeing and dinner.

Sightseeing David & Keiko

It was a good little trip. I am looking forward to going back sometime soon.

Shinjuku Choo Choo

Harry Potter On My Mind

I polished off the newest novel about Harry Potter last weekend. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was okay, about par for the course as Harry Potter novels go. The formula is getting a little stale at this point: Harry’s stuck with his tedious family over summer, magic upsets the Dursley household right as Harry leaves, a new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher stirs the pot at Hogwarts, Harry and his friends disregard the advice of the adults around them, Harry catches the Golden Snitch in a Quidditch match, Harry gets in tune with Voldemort’s evil plans, nobody believes Harry, Harry wanders into the Forbidden Forest, Harry gets into a scrape with Voldemort, some mysterious power inside Harry that he can neither understand nor control thwarts Voldemort again, Dumbledore explains what just happened, Harry goes back to the Dursley’s wiser and older. Repeat cycle in another couple years.

I enjoyed the book, it is a delightful children’s series. Anything that gets kids excited about reading is okay by me. The stories are enjoyable fantasy, a quick bit of fluff. I am certain I will read the sixth book in the series when it comes out, and it will again be a brief delight in my reading.

Ylig Site Still Not Excavated

The bones unearthed during the road work on Route 4 a few months ago are still lying exposed along the roadside in Yona. The entire situation is simply intolerable. Desecration of burials, then simply allowing the graves to be scattered by wind, rain and foraging animals. It is simply scandalous.

By the time they finally sort out the mess and approve an archaeologist to excavate the site it will be too late. The damage has been done.

Wetness

The rainy season has officially arrived. It was a deluge last night, non-stop, pounding rain for over an hour. This morning the winds were gusting and the scuttlebutt was about a tropical depression forming over the island. Judging by the satellite photo loop, Guam will be getting lots of rain for the next few days.

Back In The Islands

Got back late this afternoon from Tokyo. It was a blast. The weather was really hot the first couple days, but it cooled off nicely Saturday night.

I will post some pictures in a day or so. Right now I am trying to play catch up around the house. The wedding was great, the parties were great. I drank a good deal, met some interesting people, and explored a bit of Tokyo. I hope to get back before the end of the year. Hopefully it won’t be so blasted hot in October.

Offline For The Weekend

I’ll be in Tokyo this weekend for a wedding, so no posts over the weekend. I will be back on Monday afternoon.

I promise to take plenty of pictures.

Smell ya later.

The Declaration of The Rights Of Man

Approved by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789

The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all. Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:
Articles:

  1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
  2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
  3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
  4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
  5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
  6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.
  7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.
  8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.
  9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner’s person shall be severely repressed by law.
  10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
  11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
  12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted.
  13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.
  14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
  15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.
  16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.
  17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.

Knoppix

I just fired up Knoppix Linux this evening. Very cool. Linux on a CD-ROM boots into a RAM disk. And the amount of programs loaded onto the CD is amazing. It makes for a very interesting experiment.

Island News Roundup

A quick spin through the local news:

  • Bankruptcies on the rise – No surprise there. George Butler, a local lawyer specializing in bankruptcies, predicts 2003 will be a banner year for bankruptcy filings on Guam, especially once the inevitably happens and GovGuam starts laying off employees.
  • Arguments heard in bond case – The Supreme Court of Guam heard arguments for and against the government’s proposed bond bailout measure yesterday. They will render a decision in a few days.
  • State funeral set for Angel Santos – Next week a state funeral will be held for former senator Angel Santos. I still can’t believe he is gone. The media reported him as having Parkinson’s, but it seems like the progress of the disease was incredibly fast. I’ve known a few people with Parkinson’s and it always seemed a gradual deterioration to me. I know the medical examiner performed an autopsy, I am curious to know the results.
  • Public library reducing hours – The Agat Branch of the Guam Public Library is now only open on Tuesdays. Seems the salary reductions and budget shortfalls encouraged a number of library employees to leave Guam. The library is now too short-staffed to operate the main branch, the Dededo branch and the Agat branch every day. The poor state of the library system on island breaks my heart.
  • Tire recycling takes off – On a positive note, a local recycling firm unveiled a new process to reduce the number of old tires on island. The new machine crushes up to 100 old tires into a compact 4x4x2 cube, which can be used for a number of purposes; road beds, retaining walls or erosion control. Good to hear about somebody doing something to reduce waste on island.
  • South Pacific Games UpdateFSM earned seven medals yesterday :: Guam men bat in the baseball gold :: Guam women’s soccer still in medal contention :: All in all, the games are a rousing success for Fiji.

D’oh!

The ride into town this morning was interesting for a couple reasons. I’ve mentioned the highway construction on my stretch of Route 4 before; 10 months into the road widening project and all they’ve done is dig ditches. Well this morning they were busy trenching again and broke the water main. It must have just happened a minute or two before I passed by. The water was shooting up like a fountain 5 feet into the air and two contractors were busy yelling at each other. It was a pretty funny scene, looked like something out of the Three Stooges.

Then I spotted the elusive illustrated man this morning too. Yes, Von was pedaling a bike up Marine Drive at 8:00 this morning, destination unknown. It’s been about four months since I’ve seen Von, I was hoping that he finally got his ducks in a row and left Guam. I guess I was wrong. I’ll give him a call next week and hook up. Anyway it was funny seeing a bald, tattooed biker in steel toe boots and bandanna wobbling up the middle of Marine Drive.

Luncheon

Knocked off Bleak House at lunch today. Another notch in the staff of reading. Time to start the latest Harry Potter, which I have on loan from Dianne.

I ate lunch at GPO – Guam Premium Outlets. Just a quick bite to eat, a Subway sandwich in the food court. Then it was up into the stores and a stop at Vitamin World for my glucosamine supplements. Gotta keep the creaky knees lubed up.

I discovered that the Guam Museum opened a small exhibit space in an empty store front in the mall. The exhibit is entitled “A Brief Glimpse Into Guam’s History” and it offers several cases of ancient Chamoru artifacts; a latte stone, sling stones, metate, and fishhooks. Also on display is a variety of objects relating to Shoichi Yokoi, the famous Japanese straggler found hiding out down in Talofofo in 1972. They have his homespun hibiscus root clothing, some wrought tools and salvaged garbage that he used to eke out a living in his cave.

All said this is a nice effort by the museum to reach a wider audience and highlight Guam’s history to the tourists. This is certainly a step in the right direction, though the needs of the museum need to be sorely addressed.

Interesting Editorial

Today’s featured editorial in the PDN discusses the similar histories, yet different outcomes, of Guam and Singapore. Both were distant island territories with similar advantages, but Singapore ended up an economic powerhouse while Guam is mired in fiscal chaos and a crumbling infrastructure. What were the differences that caused such divergent outcomes? The author cites a common thread in the ‘Asian Tigers’

Existing special circumstances, such as entrepots in Hong Kong and Singapore built by their colonial masters; a shared Confucian heritage of hard work, frugality, hierarchy and harmony; an embrace of a free-market economy; and economic planning based on a market-driven and export-oriented economy.

While he goes to lengths to explain the parallels in Guam’s history that could produce a similar ‘Pacific Tiger’ on our island, he ends his analysis there. Any discussion on the failures of Guam’s economy should include a lengthy discussion of the military’s pervasive presence on the island.

For decades Guam has hosted several major military bases, serving as a tangible projection of U.S. military might into the Far East. The Navy developed a great deal of Guam’s infrastructure, and ran the island as a colonial power for decades. Power, water, telephone, even the government itself was entirely under naval administration. The damaging effects of this policy are only too clear: Guam has become dependent on others, most notably the military, survival.

How does the saying go? ‘If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.’ Whether overtly or not, the military kept Guam dependent on the federal largesse.

These habits rubbed off on the nascent GovGuam when self-rule finally occurred in the 1960’s. GovGuam kept this paternalistic attitude and maintained control of all the major utilities. Over time, the function of GovGuam become not to provide basic services and duties of a government, but to provide cradle to grave employment, health care, and benefits. It made an island of dependents.

Why take chances or innovate when a cushy government job with generous salaries provides all a person needs? The impetus was not present to spur economic diversity. Guam was given a fish every day, and never learned to fish for itself. And so the island stagnated, a vassal territory to a world superpower, while the Asian Tigers surged ahead to become economic powerhouses.

Still Reading

I didn’t finish Bleak House last night. I didn’t watch ‘Round Midnight either. I ran out of gas pretty much at 9:30 and I retired to my bed. I managed to make it through the Simpsons at 10:00, but I was asleep by 10:30 last night. And it was good.