Monthly Archives: March 2003



I think somebody else may have used the same idea and “Protestado” tag somewhere, but this is my version.


Lyrics: Maureen S. O’Brien, 3/31/03

To the tune of “Desperado”, Linda Ronstadt or whoever


Why don’t you come to your senses,

Admit your defenses of Saddam are wrong?

You want a Hitler?

Look to the guy in mustaches.

You’re helping a fascist with your antiwar song.

If you’d been born inside Iraq,

He’d’ve killed you without blinking.

Be lucky if he’d shredded you headfirst.

Now it seems to me you can’t see

Things that don’t fit with your thinking.

In Iraq war’s bad, but peace there was the worst.


Those folks ain’t gettin’ no younger.

The fear and the hunger is worse than the grave.

And freedom? Oh, freedom is just a dream they can’t wake to.

So for Heaven’s sake, you should be glad they’ll be saved!


Don’t your blood run cold in the LA sun

When you hear ’bout the rapist and the gas and guns?

Not hard to tell the bad guys from the good.

And while you’re blaming Bush and Jews,

You’re changing all you know is true

For hoods.

(White hoods.)


Why don’t you come to your senses,

Get off the defensive and use your head?

Want peace and safety? Want all the world’s people’s freedom?

You better let somebody free them

(Let somebody free them)

You better let somebody free them

Before we’re all dead.

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Fandom’s POW

I haven’t seen this noticed yet on any other fannish sites, but fan Sgt. James Riley is one of the mechanics captured by Saddam’s forces the other day. He wears glasses, which his captors have taken from him. His head was shaved and he sat in a wheelchair and answered questions in a clipped voice.

New Jersey’s Cherry Hill Courier Post Online reports, “Riley, who taught himself guitar, is a science fiction fan who is making a chain-mail shirt of the sort knights wear.” The Jersey Journal says likewise that Riley is “a natural-born mechanic who makes chain-mail armor and reads science fiction for fun.”

Born in New Zealand but emigrating with his parents at an early age, he has kept up his dual citizenship even though he’s never gone back. His hometown is Pennsauken, New Jersey, though he’s of course stationed in Fort Bliss, Texas. He is single and has no children. He and his parents and sister Katherine have been dealing with his sister Mary being in a coma since January thanks to an undetermined neurological disease. But his parents have faith that he will make it; they say he’s “stubborn and obstinate.”

I know he’s not the only fan in the war, and our POWs are already in everyone’ s prayers and thoughts. But let’s support Sgt. James Riley. He’s one of our own — one of our best. It would also be nice if some of the East Coast fans looked into doing something for his family…maybe somebody knows a good neurologist?

(Here’s more about his family and the sister in a coma from The Newark Star-Ledger. News 12 has an article including a video and phone interview with Riley’s mother. Here’s New Zealand’s take. And his hometown is behind him, The Jersey Journal reports: “Sgt. Riley’s 22-year-old sister Katherine said most of Pennsauken’s stores on Monday were sold out of the yellow ribbons, but she eventually found one and tied it around a thick maple in the family’s front yard.”)

The Other Side of Fandom

There’s always been a divide between liberals and conservatives in fandom, way back to its beginnings. The first World Science Fiction Convention included a messy fan feud on the topic. (Naive Communist sympathizers who believed in the inevitable march of history versus people who didn’t want political flyers at the con and told the Communist sympathizers they couldn’t come in if they brought the flyers. Or something like that…I wasn’t around in 1939 to hear both sides of the story.)

So this doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is that anyone could honestly ask the corporate body of the Science Fiction Writers of America to issue a statement that it’s against the war. Uh…don’t we think SFWA is just a tad bit more pluralistic than that? They’d have to do like the Supreme Court and issue a bunch of minority opinions: SF Writers against the War, SF Writers for the War, SF Writers in the War, SF Writers Who Don’t Give a Quark about the War, and SF Writers Whose Opinion about the War Is None of Your Damned Business.

It’s too bad other unions aren’t as sensible as SFWA. The NEA’s endorsements never spoke for my parents, for example….

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To Un-Absent Friends

It was a long weekend without him, but Salam Pax is back on the pixels in Baghdad. Thank God. I couldn’t picture the blogosphere without him — or that future Baghdad, twenty years from now. Maybe he’ll be a columnist, or run a good talk show…. I won’t mind if he’s a gadfly to us Americans, as long as he’s there.

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Stress Relief II

I know I’m not a warblogger, but the posting below may seem unusually non sequiturish. But I was watching The Straight Story last night and didn’t know the war had started.

What I was thinking yesterday, and didn’t post, was my hope. Twenty years from now, God willing and the creek don’t rise (which is how Southern Ohioans say inshallah), we’ll all be going to Baghdad in the spring. Under its democratic government, it will once again become one of the great cradles of civilization. The place will be so beautiful that no Scherazade could possibly describe it, though the huge number of poets, songwriters, musicians and artists among the populace will keep attempting to try. Some of the city’s immigrants will be celebrating Norooz, the Persian New Year, though many will have gone back to visit family in Kurdistan or Iran, Iraq’s close allies and agemates in democracy. But everyone will be feasting and vacationing. They can afford to take a few days off, since their economy will be growing in leaps and bounds. Mosques (Shia and Sunni) and churches and synagogues will flourish everywhere. Everyone will have a garden and a fountain, or at least a park nearby, and the people of Baghdad will be notorious for speaking their minds whenever they feel like it.

If we do this right.

God willing and the creek don’t rise.

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Stress Relief

You know it’s been a stressful few weeks when you find translating a Russian novel for yourself relaxing. Especially if it’s way over your vocabulary level, despite the fact that it’s written for junior high kids. The whole process is taking me about a week per chapter at present. (40 pages or so per chapter, so that’s not bad.) I’m getting faster already, and I’m only up to the middle of chapter 3.

Nevertheless, I have to say that Dmitri Yemets’ Tanya Grotter and the Magical Double Bass is the chicken-legged hut’s knees. It is definitely inspired by Rowling and a reply to Rowling. It is definitely not plagiarism, as Rowling’s lawyers alleged before getting slapped down by a Russian court. I mean, I don’t seem to remember Harry going on field trips to museums in the Kremlin, for example. I suspect that the lawsuit was based on the first chapter, which was perhaps the closest part of the two books so far. (Close as in “similar situation with kids surviving baddies and being left with relatives”, not in the words or the details used.) OTOH, I do have to say Yemets’ publishers at Eksmo were definitely cruising a bit too close to the line on “look and feel” when they used a close variation of the “lightningbolt font” on their book. Still, it is unlikely any Russian child was going to confuse a redheaded girl in a belly tee riding an acoustic bass with Harry.

Still, it leads one to wonder. If Terry Brooks was publishing The Sword of Shannara today, or McKiernan his Iron Tower trilogy, would they face legal action? (And would I cry if they did? No offense, but those books are sooooo bad…and sooo ripoffs….)

Tanya’s a great kid, but she definitely has a mouth on her! Similarly, her problems and perils so far make Harry’s troubles look relatively small. I suppose that it takes a bit more hardship to impress kids in a country where most of them would love to have their very own cupboard under the stairs. OTOH, Tanya also doesn’t take things as quietly as Harry; she gets her own back, though on the sly. Yemets has a gift for interesting similes and characters. He’s a little longwinded, but I guess he likes telling a story in leisurely fashion, with lots of sidetracks to help us understand Tanya and her guardians’ family better.

For example: German Nikitich Durnev is a wonderful creature of modern Russia, a Moscow businessman turned Duma deputy who constantly is taking pills and worrying about cleanliness and his heart, and hates leading a committee on aid for children and the elderly because he loathes both groups. A man of 117 bad moods, they make him so skinny that he has to pad his cheeks for his campaign posters. He truly loves his immensely fat wife Ninel and his spoiled, knife-happy daughter Pipa, but he only took Tanya in for the pleasure of eventually seeing her thrown in jail. After all, her father (his overly-exemplary third cousin) had turned out to be a computer cracker who mysteriously managed to escape the long arm of the law after robbing a bank — for the benefit of stray dogs and not for any worthy person, like, say, his third cousin German….

It’s a lot of fun.

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