The $3,000,000,000,000 war
Have I got the right number of zeroes? "The Three Trillion Dollar War: the True Cost of the Iraq Conflict" is by economist Prof Joseph Stiglitz. No, I haven't read the book but I did read a full page interview with him in the Irish Times business section (sic!) on 7th March, the interview being by Paul Tansey. The first part of it is his political analysis of the war which is straightforward and could come from any international commentator or indeed peace activist - the war showed up the USA's lack of power rather than demonstrating its power, the invasion was based on false assumptions etc. The $3 trillion is what he estimates the costs will turn out to be to the USA; he puts direct military costs at $1.2 trillion, and veterans' costs at $700 billion. The cost to the world he estimates at twice $3 trillion - so it's a $9 trillion war.
What is interesting is when he focuses on opportunity cost - the things the USA can't do because it's paying for this vast disaster. He predicts that by 2017 "the war will account for $2 trillion of increased US debt. Interest on that is $140 billion a year. Year after year, that will crowd out lots of other programmes. The US wanted a meaningful healthcare reform that would help people move from welfare to work. It would have required $9 billion a year. We couldn't afford it...." And it has also added to the USA's current economic problems through higher oil prices and a dampened economy, he said and this all had a contribution to the sub-prime lending debacle.
Iraq's disaster is also a disaster for the USA, in a very different but tangible way. And in both cases, as always, it is the poor who get screwed most. A sad, sad tragedy for all affected by this great blunder of Bush and Blair. You can put a price on it but how can you really, truly put a price on tens, hundreds, of thousands of lives destroyed?
Quilts for life
If you're going to be in Derry before 19th April, or fancy a trip, the exhibition of international and Irish quilts there (in various museum and other locations) is more than well worth a visit, you could easily spend a whole day looking at them and reflecting on them, with the odd cup of coffee or bite as you move between the different locations. Many of them are 'dealing with the past', Irish, Chilean, or other, while others explore women's roles or other aspects of life. Put together/curated by (INNATE member) Roberta Bacic, I found it a very life-affirming experience. Included are a whole selection of Chilean 'arpilleros' - how can you fail to be moved by one made by a woman before she went home to Peru, to her family who she missed so much, and was murdered? A question asked in a workshop about the lack of blood and guts was answered by Roberta pointing out the depiction of certain atrocities (e.g. torture) but also by quoting the words of Jorge Semprún that it was not a question of being indescribable but of being unbearable.
The quilts and arpilleros are made by a mixture of embroidery, appliqué, patchwork and painting. They vary greatly in style and imagery and are not just craft items but true works of art, with brilliant use of colour and texture, and quilting is a very predominantly (though not exclusively) female art. Irene McWilliams' quilt on the Northern Ireland Troubles, was a beautiful, rich composition in red. The latest quilt from Relatives for Justice was on display and also makes for sobering reflection on the Troubles. Other quilts had wider life-affirming themes and very fine blending of colour and imagery. Even a love story from Arranmore island, Co Donegal, made an appearance. The whole exhibition is entitled "The Art of Survival - International and Irish Quilts" and runs until 19th April under the aegis of Derry City Council Heritage and Museum Service (opening days vary in the 9 locations so you'd need to go Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to see them all).
Lies, damn lies and web statistics
You, of course, already know that the INNATE website is the greatest in this universe (we have the sadistics to prove it!) [only this universe, what about any other universe? - Ed]. I make an occasional visit to what our web stats package shows, and as this has just been revamped, with more info given on web searches that ended up at the website (though less on countries of origin) it has given me another excuse. In March 2008, "2,656 unique visitors came to the site, as determined by typical behavior of browsers with a non-rotating IP address and including a projection of the true number of visitors with rotating IP addresses. The web site received 5,954 visits. A typical visitor examined 4.34 distinct files before leaving the site. A typical visit lasted for 3.07 minutes. The longest visit lasted for 162 minutes. Visitors came from 4,989 distinct Internet addresses. The web server delivered 1,056 unique documents one or more times each." And "924 distinct search keywords were used to locate documents on the web server via Internet search servers."
But what did people search for? Some of it is fairly obvious (as to why they ended up with us) - 'define consensus' (our biggest draw), and then nonviolence in various aspects. But all sorts of everything bring people visiting - the Christian 'turning the other cheek' and Walter Wink's interpretation of that as nonviolent resistance, 'synthesis of rules for radicals' (Alinsky), 'who is behind gandhi king ikeda exhibition', 'lisa kalvelage lyrics', 'gyor irish madonna' , songs featured in 'Musical Musings' on Irish history and culture - you'll get the answers/run down on all these on the INNATE website. But some are a bit more humorous or far out - a search for the 'inventor of the can' visited when what I had mentioned in this Colm was the inventor of the can can (a different thing entirely, I think you'll agree), 'missals in Cuba' (I wrote about the Cuban missal (sic) crisis ....), 'puritan woofer' (presumably working weekends on organic farms), 'rian air', 'violent street theater' (yes, well), 'traffic cone puns' (yes, I have written about the cult of the traffic cone).
Some are even further out; 'irish mediators in iraq', 'ferry from larne to stranger' (sic! Obviously the new route to Scotland....), 'dirty candle irish political party' (?). And as for the person who sought out 'billy king french polisher limerick', well, I hope visiting our website didn't take the shine off their day. Someone's history slant seemed a bit awry; "irish independence and those who helped bring it about in 1840's" (presumably they meant 'worked for it' rather than 'helped bring it about'). Some people coin phases in their misspelling; "drama to explore peersonal and community issues". Some people were fairly certain to be disappointed however; this website is unlikely to be what the inputter of 'www.livesexcam' was looking for - though now that we've published this maybe even more people may find the INNATE site searching for the same thing.....
'Speel checks don't work in office 2003' looks like a cry of desperation, 'big money grants for peace organisations' could have come from a) someone who has the perception peace groups are rolling in it (rolling in penury I think), or b) someone who thought maybe they could get some €/£/$ for peace activities. Hope springs eternal; 'doctoral funding to study northern ireland conflict', well, yes please. Meanwhile someone else asked 'how much a madiator (sic) can earn' - indeed, I'd be med keen to know myself. Many googlers sought info on people associated with INNATE or other organisations mentioned in these pages, or the organisations themselves. Individual words such as 'schatoma' or 'schizostylis' also got a look in ('sch'olarly or what?), and more unusual spiritual/ideological pursuits such as 'tibetan buddhism and quakerism', though there are certainly plenty of parallels that could be explored on the silent road to nirvana, and at this point I will go silent myself.
So, it's all here, well, actually it's not but it does perhaps indicate how many topics we cover. All humane life is here. Visit early, visit often.
That's yer lot for this month, take care of yourself and others, and remember, nothing succeeds like a parrot with no teeth (haven't told that one for at least a couple of years) [I'm not sure about that, anyway, that one is a bit long in the mouth - Ed], yours until May comes in, Billy.
is Billy King? A long, long time ago, in a more
innocent age (just talking about myself you understand),
there were magazines called 'Dawn' and 'Dawn Train'
and I had a back page column in these. Now the Headitor
has asked me to come out from under the carpet to write
a Cyberspace Column 'something people won't be able
to put down' (I hope you're not carrying your monitor
around with you).
Watch this. Cast a cold eye on life, on death, horseman
pass by (because there'll almost certainly be very little
about horses even if someone with a similar name is
found astride them on gable ends around certain parts
of Norn Iron).