Her name was Neda Agha Soltan

Other than that, I know little about her. Her murder was a very public one, witnessed by millions, myself included. The video was hard to watch. Her eyes, as the light left them. The cries of her friends, as they realized the futility of their attempts to save her. She was murdered by a Basij gunman - Iran's version of the Hitler youth. I wonder if he even aimed. Her death was just as random and senseless as any drive-by shooting in America.

So why do I grieve for a stranger on the other side of the world?

I've never been a fan of martyrdom, or death in general.

From the Associated Content:
The concept of martyrdom in a fight for freedom is not unique to Iran. History is replete with stories of such people, such as American's Nathan Hale ("I have but one life to give to my country.") or Ireland's John McBride, of whom Yeats wrote "He, too, has been changed in his turn, Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born."

If it is her destiny to become a martyr, so be it. The irony, of course, is that the same concept that started and sustained a regime, may also end it. I only know that a young woman, whose only crime was her opinion, was cut down. A death that does indeed diminish us all.

She should be remembered.

My people have a President

I caught this on CSPAN yesterday. John Hodgman (PC guy) at the Radio & TV Correspondent's Assn. Dinner. I noticed the conspicuous absence of MAC guy. Off someplace being cool, I suspect. Linux girl really should have been there, though.

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Wisdom, such as it is.

When I got to work yesterday, my very first customer was a very old man, 'bout 150 or so, who mumbled something about a latte. Since I wasn't sure whether I heard him correctly, I repeated his order. He then gave me a look that I haven't seen since my Dad was teaching me how to drive, and said, "Are ya stupid, boy?".

My response was to smile (as stupidly as I could, which isn't a stretch), drool a little, and pick my nose. The look on his face kept me going the rest of the day.

As a young man, I probably would have handled it rather badly. I'm older now, and my skin is a little thicker.

The moral? Don't sweat the small shit. Have fun with it.

On Being American

While perusing the blogoshpere last weekend, I came upon a rant. Some of that tired, old "America, love it or leave it" rhetoric that's been shoved down our throats for the last half a century. The fact that they completely miss the point isn't what really bothers me. Well, OK, it does bother me.

If I speak out because my country does something immoral, illegal, or just plain stupid, it's not because I hate my country. Quite the opposite, in fact. I love my country. Too much to see it perverted into some racist, xenophobic "garden of Eden" that some conservatives envision.

Justice, tolerance, compassion, diversity. All inherently American values. Values we have consistently failed to live up to as a nation and a people. It does no good to (constantly) tell the world what a great country we are, when our deeds say the otherwise. At best, it shows a lack of credibility.

Conservatism attracts the type of people who express joy upon hearing of the deaths of 39 children in Hermosillo, because "that's 39 less illegal aliens down the road". Or who think N. Korea is justified in jailing two U.S. journalists because they entered the country illegally (it's entirely possible, probable even, that they were snatched from China to be used as bargaining chips later).

So, count on the fact that if I disagree with my government, I will call them on it. Because, as the old Latin proverb goes...

Ubi dubriem, ibi libertas
Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

Irish I were Mexican

My grandmother died a couple of years ago, at the age of 101. Oddly enough, my siblings and I were shocked by this. We thought the old bird too damn mean to die. While she did have her good qualities, she was possibly the most racist person I ever met. She made Rush Limbaugh look like hippie by comparison.

She once told me (somewhat proudly) that we were of Black Irish descent. Given her views on race relations, I was somewhat confused by this. Recently I did some research on the term.

I'm still confused.

The most popular story concerns a Spanish (in some versions, Portuguese) shipwreck in the late 1600's. Possible, but given the relatively small gene pool, I find it unlikely. I think they would have simply been assimilated in 2 or 3 generations.

Another story goes like this (from wikipedia):
In the 1700s Irish protestants and British formed a vigilante military called the"Orangemen" to keep the Roman Catholic Irish subservient. The Roman Catholic Irish countered by starting their own military called the "White boys"
(I think I've seen these guys. No hair, lots of political ink?). Any Roman Catholic Irish that chose not to defy the orangemen or joined the whiteboys were known as the "black irish" of which most immigrated to North America. It has nothing at all to do with ones complexion, hair or eye colour.

Again, possible. But Black Irish are distinctive enough to be classified outside the normal range of any other Northern European ethnic group.

The last theory involves Celtic nomads, establishing trade routes to Asia, intermarrying and taking their families back to the west coast of Europe.

Hmmm. There were some recently discovered Celtic mummies found in the deserts of Western China...

My first post. After almost a decade of resistance, I've finally started blogging. Part of it stems from my own vanity, of course. Also, I think I've finally got enough mileage on me by now to have something mildly interesting to say, or at least be able to form a coherent sentence or two.

Maybe not.