Don't be fooled by the title of this blog. I don't discuss herbs very much here. This blog is general-purpose, although I do like ranting about politics and religion.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Raed vs the Neurotic Wife

Inveterate pessimist and Bush-basher Raed in the Middle writes:
"The current fake Iraqi elections are a fundamental part of the bush-administration's project in Iraq, the project that started fifteen years ago by old bush, and is under going by little bush.
Keeping in mind that she is living in Australia probably (while her husband works in Baghdad in the government in some capacity), the Neurotic Iraqi Wife, on the other hand, simply posts a photograph of the fingers of her right hand, with the ink-stained index finger, signifying that she has voted. She refers to this ink stain as the Mark of My Freedom, and says in conclusion:
"I guess thats all to report today, everyone was happy, chirpy and at the end of the day real real tired including moi. Most of all, EYES were exhausted searching in the massive crowds for the marked fingers, frowning if they dont see that mark, The Mark of Freedom......
The "fake" Iraqi election indeed.

Riverbend, Water, and Post-Dictatorship Trauma Syndrome

Riverbend, the female Iraqi blogger who lives in Baghdad, posted for the first time in five days, and she started out talking about a trickle of water that was flowing, after eight days of dryness, out of her family's bathroom faucet. They're filling buckets for future use in case the water gets cut off. She also reports that they're only getting 4 hours of electricity out of every 24 -- which might account for her relative absence in the blogosphere.

She goes on to wax negative on the election coming up, conditions in Baghdad (generally bad), and ends with a bash at Bush. The usual, in other words.

The funny thing is, Riverbend writes about how bad it is in Baghdad, but I, at least, haven't seen quite that much complaining about conditions in other places. Why, I asked myself, was Baghdad suffering so much from electricity and water shortages? You'd think the capital city, of all places, would be seeing power and water constantly, wouldn't you? Well, there might be a good reason for this not to be the case.

Chrenkoff wrote in his blog back in September about why Baghdad is having it so rough. Check it out here. Baghdad is catching it in the shorts because Saddam is no longer there to force the power providers in other cities to supply Baghdad, which had only limited organic power and water generating capability.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Iraqi Bloggers

Since I discovered blogging I've been trying to follow the writings of a number of Iraqi bloggers. Some of the bloggers I follow are in varying degrees in favor of the US emancipation of Iraq, and some can think only of the bad things that the emancipation has brought. Let me present a balanced quartet: four pro-Emancipation and four anti-Emancipation bloggers.

One of the more famous Iraqi blogs is Iraq the Model (ITM), and this is a pro-Democracy blog written by two of three brothers. The third brother used to blog there, too, but now writes his own, Free Iraqi. Just to group one more pro-Emancipation blogger together with these is Kurdo's World, blogged by an Iraqi Kurd. Altogether then, four pro-Emancipation bloggers.

Now, for the anti-Emancipation bloggers we have Baghdad Burning, blogged by a young woman in Baghdad styling herself as "Riverbend"; she has not been posting quite so much as she used to, but still puts out some lengthy pieces at least once per week. Then there's Raed in the Middle, blogged by Raed (of course). He was one of a very famous pair of bloggers back in the early days of the US Invasion ("Where is Raed?" who hasn't blogged since April 2004). Three of Raed's family members also blog in the same vein, and I'll mention his mother's blog, A Family In Baghdad, and Raed's brother, Khalid.

I also really have to mention Riverbend's recipe blog: Is Something Burning?. Not politics, but food! She started in November 2003, but hasn't posted anything new since December 2003, unfortunately. Interesting nonetheless. Especially interesting is the Lentil Soup and the Kaibab Iroog (kabobs that are fried instead of cooked on sticks).

I'll comment on these blogs in the days to come. In the meantime, if there's a visitor or two to my blog, please check out the Iraqi bloggers. Now, if you happen to visit the links on these blogs to other Iraqi bloggers, keep in mind that the pro's only seem to link to pro's, and the anti's seem to only link to anti's. It isn't that there's more of one kind than another (though there may be, who knows which it is, though?) but that birds of a feather flock together. That's a cliche, but still true.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Trying Firefox

I've been thinking about giving Firefox (the internet browser) a spin, so today I finally installed it. Afterwards I went to my personal homepage ( and poked around to see what it would look like in FF. I found a very peculiar thing on my Volcanoes, Etc tab, and that was that all the text after the Mt. Rainier link would go underline upon mouseover! The cursor would remain a text cursor, but the text decoration went to underline. Very peculiar, I thought, so I had a look at the HTML and found that I had made a mistake. The Mt. Rainier link was coded:

<a href="http://www...>Mount Rainier<a>

Just in case you don't catch it right away, the closing tag, "<a>", is incorrect. It should be "</a>". Apparently, Internet Explorer figured this out and just worked with it, but Firefox didn't. Underlining the text after the "<a>" is an interesting behavior, that's for sure. I'm not certain if this is a bug or not. Maybe IE should have treated this mistake the same way FF did.

Anyway, so far with FF there's that one anomaly. I'll probably find others.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

I was distracted, as I am frequently, while attempting to tidy up my "office", when I happened upon a back issue of the magazine Military History. Trying to lay it aside without getting "off-topic" I happened to see an advertisement that caught my attention, for the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). The head of the ad said: "Honor Your Heritage."

As a card-carrying amateur genealogist (that is, I would carry such a card if one were available), I happened to know that one of my ancestors fought in the Civil War on the Union side. He was Christian Frederick Stoltzman, and he served with Company I, of the 8th Illinois Infantry, from 26 Sep 1864 to 26 Sep 1865. He had only recently immigrated from Brandenburg, Germany.

So, courtesy of my great great grandfather Christian, I am eligible for member in the SUVCW!

What? No Comments?

Since I started this blog, I've only gotten one comment. This is discouraging. So, what am I pontificating for? Please, someone post a comment -- if only to make disparaging remarks!

For the record, my first commenter was the blogger known as Speak Up For Truth. Thanks for letting me know that I'm not totally invisible!

The Cyberherbalist is a Latter-day Saint

Inspired by some of the LDS bloggers out there (the Bloggernacle they call themselves), I almost fired up a new blog tonight, and was debating whether to call it "Mormon Mike", "Mike's a Mormon", or something else equally inane. But I already have two blogs, somewhat compartmentalized into personal stuff (this one) and my Ham Radio hobby (at KD7UST), and I don't update either one frequently enough to count as even marginally prolific, so if I started another then it would eat into my blogtime and make me really elusive. So, I aborted the mission, so to speak.

Now you know.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King Day

There are many men who have contributed much towards the freedom of this country, the USA, and one of them is the man honored today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Rather than me trying to write about him, I'll link to a letter he wrote from the Birmingham city jail in 1963:

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Slander of a Woman -- Revisited

In an earlier post I commented upon Washington state senate bill SB 5148, which seeks to repeal the offense of "Slander of a Woman", on the books in its present form since 1927. I speculated if I might be able to get a response from Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, its sponsor, about why she wants to repeal it, and I was mildly surprised to actually hear from her on this. Not surprised in any negative sense, just that I'm not a voter in her district, and it's not her job to represent me. So, here's her response, for which I thank her:

Thanks for your inquiry, Mike. Below is a column by Susan Paynter which gives information about the bill. The statute is obviously unconstitutional and should be repealed. This isn't a high priority bill of mine, but I'd been asked by some people to reintroduce it.
Jeanne Kohl-Welles
State Senator
36th Legislative District
* Read the full article at:

As a fan of "statutory dust bunnies" (thanks for that neat phrase, Susan Paynter), I found the article to be quite amusing. Especially the part about the "Michigan law permitt[ing] a man whose wife had left him to follow her down the street, removing articles of her clothing, one-by-one, because they were his property." Weren't those legislators of bygone days a hoot?

Okay. I confess that I am convinced that this particular dust-bunny needs to be vacuumed up. I imagine that the normal slander statutes will suffice in future.

I'd urge my Senator, Karen Fraser, to support this bill, but I'm sure beyond a reasonable doubt that she'll vote for it.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Temporary Bachelor

My mother-in-law died on December 26, and my wife, Val has gone to Germany to help her sister with Mom's estate, and be at the funeral, which was on the 13th. Mom-in-law was 91 when she died, with her daughter Irmgard by her side, in her own home, which is where she wanted to be. My sister-in-law reports that it was a peaceful death --- she was concious up until the last two or three minutes and seemed content. She went to meet her husband, Otto, who preceded her in death by 60 years, a civilian casualty of the Russian conquest of East Germany. She never remarried. She once told me of a very vivid dream she had had, which was of meeting Otto again in a place that was blinding white. I imagine that it was a premonition.

Val is away, and I have the house to myself, a temporary bachelor. Fortunately, we still have some of our children, adults, still living with us, so it isn't lonely. But without my sweetheart here it is very disorienting. I guess I can see now why people who are married seek to re-marry after divorce or death of their spouse. With Val in Germany for two weeks, I feel very much disconnected from life. Without her presence life seems much less meaningful. The scripture says "It is not good for man to be alone," and that is never so clear to me as it is when Val is away. This bachelorhood helps me appreciate her so much.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Rain Barrel Permits?

A daffy Washington state Senator, Paul Shin, has proposed a law that would require a private citizen to get a permit before he could set out a rain barrel on his own property. Here's some text to SB 5113:

(4) The department may permit by rule, under conditions appropriate to the water resources inventory area, the use of rain barrels and cisterns to collect rainwater intended to be put to a beneficial use on the same property where the rainwater is captured.

Now, if this thing is passed, better not look up and open your mouth during a rainstorm to drink some water! You'll need a permit to do that!

Slander of a Woman

The Washington state legislature has a new bill before it to repeal the sinister crime of "Slander of a Woman." Introduced just today, SB 5148 is aiming to repeal this:
RCW 9.58.110
Slander of woman.
Every person who, in the presence or hearing of any person other than the female slandered, whether she be present or not, shall maliciously speak of or concerning any female of the age of twelve years or upwards, not a common prostitute, any false or defamatory words or language which shall injure or impair the reputation of any such female for virtue or chastity or which shall expose her to hatred, contempt or ridicule, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Every slander herein mentioned shall be deemed to be malicious unless justified, and shall be justified when the language charged as slanderous, false or defamatory is true and fair, and was spoken with good motives and for justifiable ends.
[1909 c 249 § 181; RRS § 2433.]
As you can see, this law was passed almost 100 years ago. I wonder how many people were charged and convicted for this heinous offense? I wonder if it will be repealed, or if it will be vigorously opposed by women's groups?

It was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle). I wonder what made her decide to try to repeal this law at this time? Perhaps I can get her to tell me.