November 11th is Remembrance Day. I am given to reflecting on what this means.

Remembrance is not about glorifying war

It is a time for sparing some thought for ancestors or other relatives whose lives were taken or affected by the two world wars. It is also about the lessons of history - learning from our mistakes.

As I sit and node this, I am aware of newspaper headlines about our troops. I read that in the UK and USA, troops are being made ready for a unilateral attack on Iraq. Are we aware of the consequences of what we are potentially doing? Admittedly, there is the possibility that Iraq allows unhindered weapons inspections - stranger things happen at sea.

What does this all mean for your average citizen? The economy on both sides of the pond is already shot to pieces. Are those of conscriptable age able to remember the lessons of Vietnam? Could this be Bush pandering to nationalistic jingoism in preparation for election - Falklands style?

On the evening of November 11, I used this as a theme at a Cogers debate. My thanks go to Novasoy, thbz and Emmac for their daylogs, which provided additional insights into Remembrance Day in other parts of the globe.

My wife has been raising pygora goats, and we picked up three females to breed with our (very stinky) male named Smokey.

We've kept them in separate areas of our property, since some of the females may already be pregnant. They've been locked away from Smokey for over a week, and yesterday it became obvious that two of them were, in fact, not pregnant (yet).

Marigold escaped out of her pen and ran over to Smokey's enclosure. He began to put on a show, which is amazing to watch. First, he had to piss on his own head and have a drink. This got her attention, so he began to make grunting/sneezing noises and started to do this weird tongue thing. This got her all excited, and we dragged Marigold back to her enclosure.

She spent the next hour going crazy, trying to get out of her pen. We thought she'd kill herself trying to get laid. One of the other does smelled Smokey on Marigold, and she started calling the male goat hither. Now we had three agitated goats. The third doe couldn't care less, and we think she's already pregnant.

Since we were worried about the safety of Marigold, we brought her over to Smokey. If there's such a thing as a goat slut, Marigold is it. She has had kids before, and she knows what she's doing. Smokey took about six seconds before he impregnated her. Literally. He spent the next half-hour making sure the job was done right over and over. Apparently the fun wore off, because she was trying to get out of the pen after the eleventh time.

Meanwhile, back at the other pen, the other non-pregnant doe is now going nuts. So we make the decision to bring them all over.

Smokey, after asserting himself as the resident stud, keeps going back to Marigold (since she's proven to put out). The non-pregnant doe wants to get laid too, but she's never had a kid before, and she's not as fun as Marigold. The third just butts Smokey away and wanders off to get something to eat.

This morning Smokey and Marigold are exhausted. The others are chewing their cud, keeping warm in the shelter. If we don't have a gaggle of kids this spring, I'll be shocked.

Oh, and try to explain to an 8yo why the male goat is trying to play leapfrog with a doe.

Today is Veterans' Day here in the US. Elsewhere it is called Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. This year more than ever I have mixed feelings about it. First of all, I am a veteran. Although I did not engage in combat during my service, nor was there even a declared war going on during my tour of duty (1994-1998), still I served. I did my time. I still feel a sense of entitlement on Veterans' Day. Where, I ask, is my cookie? I should get the day off. On the other hand, I am beginning to think that it is wrong to over-glorify war and warriors.

A good friend bought me a book this weekend called Peace Prayers: Meditations, Affirmations, Invocations, Poems, and Prayers for Peace (ISBN: 0062504649). I read about half of it this weekend and was moved deeply. There are some good messages in there. One Whitman poem, written, I assume, about the Civil War, which Whitman observed first hand while volunteering in Union hospitals, had me nearly in tears. "Come Up from the Fields Father" it was called. Damn, it hurt to read.

What is the use in glorifying warriors? I've heard war called the failure of diplomacy, the failure of statecraft. What is the use in celebrating it? We should be ashamed. But the Old Men in their offices want us to be excited about it, to be enchanted with the beauty of it. They want it to be something inviting to us - a seduction. But it is bullshit, a lie. Wilfred Owen calls it "the old lie" because it is as old as civilization itself: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. They want us to be seduced by it so that we will willingly go when they decide to have one of their wars, when they cannot agree with Fat Old Men on other offices. When Fat Old Men disagree, they send the Young to die. Wars should be regarded as what they are, our worst attributes writ large.

But what about the people that go to war? Are they nothing but the innocent dupes of the wicked Old Men? Perhaps if we lived in a time of conscription, where the Young were impressed into service, threatened with imprisonment or worse if they did not serve, but we are not. At least not in the United States. Our military is a volunteer force. People wake up, go to the recruiting office, and sign their names on the dotted line. Therefore, by an act of will, they become accomplices of the Old Men.

In my dreams, the Young refuse. They stay at home and sit on their hands. They plant gardens and build things. They care for their loved ones and raise children that agree that war is a sickening plague, an aberration, an abomination. The recruiting offices are empty, the aircraft hangers are empty, the warships gather rust, the weapon racks become decorated with cobwebs, and the Old Men in their offices wonder what to do now that the option of war is closed to them.

But this is a idealistic dream. But I can still act on it. I can march, and picket, and protest, and write letters, and vote. Object and resist. I can teach my daughter, when she is born, that there is another way of looking at things besides what the Old Men say. Peace is an option. Peace != Cowardice. Peace != Appeasement. Peace != Weakness.

So today, when I have time to reflect, I am reflecting on my own service. I am not ashamed. I was seduced by the Old Lie, too. I did not kill anyone, but I still swore oaths and signed my name. But what am I going to tell my daughter about my complicity, my contribution to the Old Lie? This is on my mind today - Veterans' Day 2002.

After three weeks of not eating due to my illness, I'm happy to say that my health is back on the rise and I'm able to eat again. On Saturday I scrambled an egg, and last night I boiled a little bit of pasta. This morning I had a cracker. Small steps! Thanks to everyone who's wished me well in the past few weeks.

Tomorrow begins the act of getting back to my routine full time. No more naps, no more reruns of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, no more pain pills 24/7. Have I missed anything during my three-week-long hibernation?

This morning I was reading the Economist online. The lead article is Bad Weather, bad government which is about the famine in Africa.

"Ethiopia faces a famine worse than the catastrophe of 1984, according to the country’s prime minister. Bad weather is partly to blame. But, as elsewhere in Africa, so too is bad government."

According to the article, Ethiopia has been afflicted by a severe drought, as have other nations such as Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has stated that his country faces a crisis worse than the famine of 1984, and is appealing to the world for assistance.

The regime in power in Ethiopia during the 1984 famine was unwilling to allow aide to be delivered to its peoples until the situation was totally out of control. That government is no longer in power and the current government is asking for help. Please consider making a donation to the hunger relief organization of your choice.

Quote Source:

Here in France, November 11 is a legal holiday that celebrates the end of World War I, and commemorates all these people who died for France. Their names are printed on monuments in every French village. More than 1.5 million people died in a country which population was around 40 or 50 million.

This is precisely why we should read today what Anatole France wrote once:

On croit mourir pour la patrie, et on meurt pour des industriels (We think we die for our country, and we die for industrialists).

World War I was a criminal act. It would be the most evil thing the Europeans have ever made if they had not done worse before and after.

Its peak was the battle of Verdun, where 500,000 to 1,000,000 people died. Imagine one September 11 per day during 6 months, and imagine that everybody thinks it's perfectly legitimate to die for nothing. The general who won the battle, instead of being sent to prison for mass murdering, became a national hero, which gave him the possibility to commit other crimes 25 years later: his name was Philippe Pétain.

My grandfather, who was studying to become an accountant, had to come back to his father's farm because all of his elder brothers had died or had been wounded at the war. This is a very banal story.

Today, the United States are repeating the errors and crimes of Europe one century ago. Dumb and dumber. Their citizens should read this:

We think we die for our country, and we die for industrialists.
Today is remembrance day at it is usual for us to have a minutes silence during one of our lessons. This year however that did not happen.

Our german lesson began rather normally and a minutes silence was expected.

As lesson progressed all was fine - or so it seemed. When it got to 11 '0' clock we said to our teacher about the minutes silence and she said she did not believe in all that.

We tried to explain the importance of how we felt about today and she said this did not matter, it was what she wanted that counted.

I cannot understand why anyone would not want to remember what those brave soldiers did for us. I will never forget today and not being allowed to do something that I strongly beleive in.

I don't beleive in God, in fact I don't believe in many things...
This is though one of the things I strongly do believe in - remembering what other people did for us.

"Remember what people do for us and return the favour someday."

I don't seem to be doing very well around here, I want to do well, that was only achievement when I joined here. To be a good writer. I enjoy writing but most of the stuff I write is my opinion and aparantly that isn't what you are looking for. I understand that, just help me along here you guys, I need teaching how it all works.

Tell me why you don't like a piece before you knock it down, that is all I ask from you, your opinion and views on what I write. Surely you don't think they are that bad, do you?

Sets The Time

Perhaps it will do some good to reason for a while.
Working that I may become bigger in my actions
My design for motion is only forward, only pausing
For a passing look to the side, or briefly backwards

Dropping the armloads down sets the time.
Wiping the flat stone, the hands slide over
The coolness and confide the need to order
Before the departure is taken and the beach
Is left in undisturbed sand grasses bending
Away from the wind without thinking why.

I don't usually write daylogs, but I saw two extremely strange happenings, things that must not slip down the memory hole.

Falling asleep in class after an accidental all-night Everything2 session. I repeatedly fall asleep in the middle of typing my notes; my suddenly heavy fingers fill the screen with repeated D's and O's. I dream of Everything2 during my each and every one of my brief naps. I am fucking addicted.

Since the weather was unseasonably warm (over 12 Celsius), I decided I'd head out to the Botanical Gardens after classes. The Oriental gardens were marvelous as always, even without the recently-removed Chinese lanterns. On the ride home, I encountered a rather... odd individual. His Eraserhead hairstyle and wild stare should have clued me in to the general wrongitude, but then he starting eating COLD GREASY FRENCH FRIES off of the FLOOR of the SUBWAY CAR! Eyuk. If that's not enough madness for ya, he noticed my inquisitive glances and offered me some of his delicious meal, no doubt with the best of intentions. At this point I had to get off the train to avoid bursting into tears of laughter at his antics.

I find myself at the Place-des-Arts Metro stop, one short of that at which I had intended to disembark. I notice a commotion in front of The Bay department store. Curious. What's going on? Loud trance music, three dancers, and someone in a large brown plush costume; I think it's supposed to be a bear. He seems to have rolls of toilet paper on his ears, and there are Japanese and American tourists flocking around him, cameras clicking away. Performance art? A protest? No, apparently this is an advertisement for Charmin toilet paper. I suddenly feel very sorry for whoever's in that suit; bad enough to caper around in a ridiculous plush costume, but to do it as a toilet paper advertisement seems to be the height of indignity.

So that's three things, if you count dreaming about E2. Who here hasn't done that at some time, though?

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