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Friday, December 23, 2005

In Praise of Those Wacky Nuns

Let us praise two great super-patriotic movies of the eighties (and one “what can happen when nuclear war goes wrong” movie of the 80’s). Let us remember Red Dawn, Rambo: First Blood II, and Road Warrior as the great artistic achievements that they were.

And let us praise three dopey nuns for reminding us of the greatness--three dopey nuns so stuck in the 80’s anti-nuclear movement that a few years ago they decided to do something naughty.

Their crime was to break into a nuclear silo installation by chopping their way through the facility’s chain link fence and then they “banged on a railing with a small hammer and spilled their own blood - collected in baby bottles - on the ground. That done, they prayed, sang and chanted for peace.” It came as a surprise that people got all cranky about nuns breaking into a nuclear facility (and seriously creeped out by that bit with the bottles of blood).

The nuns were charged and convicted of a number of crimes and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The last of the nuns was released yesterday, reminding me of the whole, mildly humorous episode and a few of my favorite movies.

Of course, in progressive activist circles this is time for great celebration and the casting of angry glares at authority figures. Because they weren’t just breaking into a Federal military installation, they were doing God’s work (if by “God’s work” you mean “raising consciousness”, which is apparently a blanket excuse for all sorts of anti-social behavior like throwing cream pies at conservative leaders and speakers who dare to enter any campus “Throw Pie Zone").

“Because of Ardeth, Jackie and Carol, there is a dialogue going on,” said Bill Sulzman, a Colorado Springs peace activist who has known the three women for seven years. This dialogue, said Sulzman, centers on “what does Christian morality require one to do in this nuclear age? They helped put that question into play.”

Dennis Apuan, of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission in Colorado Springs, said, “Their public witness raised people’s consciousness about nuclear war. It was an act of nonviolent conviction that generated a lot of debate.”

When I read this, I had to wonder: when the hell did I miss the nuclear freakin’ war? Obviously I needed my consciousness raised about nuclear war because I totally missed the thing.

You wouldn’t think that would be possible.

And then I realized that it wasn’t just me. Everywhere I look people were completely not talking about nuclear weapons or nuclear war (except when they were getting nervous about North Korea or Iran getting their hands on some nuclear weapons and starting a nuclear war). They hadn’t even noticed (much) that there were nuclear weapons still hanging around and that with nuclear weapons came the possibility of nuclear war and that means nuclear winter devastating the planet as any good citizen knows.

I mean, jeez, it’s like The Day After and Mad Max had never happened. Wake up, America! Raise some consciousness, sisters!

Furthermore, the nuns want people to know that it’s not as if they were actually doing anything. Sure, they had to sort of snip their way through a fence and sure they brought a hammer with them, but they didn’t have the capacity to do any real damage. Which is, at least sort of, true: there was no way that this dim, blood-dribbling trio could have harmed the nuclear weapon. But the harm is in destruction of government property and the obstruction of a national defense facility.

Which things are illegal under American law, which sort of trumps the nuns’ claim that war and nuclear weapons violate the Codified Statutes of Life (or some such thing).

Still, according to this article, the nuns claim that what they did was “ symbolic and not sabotage"--kind of like that time I symbolically (and drunkenly) peed on the side of a building in downtown Denver. It wasn’t real urination, it was more a protest against the cruelty of my bladder.

But I’m guessing that if a Denver cop had happened along, I would still have gotten a ticket.

See, that’s the trouble with symbolically breaking into a nuclear facility, symbolically (and, yes, uselessly) hammering on a silo, and then symbolically spilling your own blood from a baby bottle: symbolic it may be, but it also gets you thrown in jail in a not-so symbolic way.

Don’t worry, though, these three haven’t been beaten down by the evil system. Not by a long shot. After Ardeth Platte, the last of the three to be released, takes a little break ("[W]aging peace takes an enormous effort. So I’m a bit weary.") from her personal blood bank, symbolic hammering, and general picketing duties, and after they’ve enjoyed their Christmas break ("[W]e have a marvelous Christmas banquet where everyone fixes the most precious foods they can make.” (And, in case you were wondering, I personally make a mean posole. I’m not sure I’d call it “precious”, since that’s just a little too Lord of the Rings to me, but it is mighty tasty.)) they’ll be back at the front lines of peace waging fun.

They are also expressly forbidden from protesting on military property, an edict that they may not obey.

Though the nuns were not openly defiant of the ban, they couldn’t promise unending compliance.

“I guess what I would say is, we will live our conscience,” said Gilbert. “And we believe that someday history will prove what we did was legal.”


It’s a Christmas miracle: these nuns have taught us the true meaning of sanctimonious.

So, yeah, thanks.

I’m going to go rent some fun movies now…

Read the Rest...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Speaking of Queensryche (Because We Were, You Know)

Okay, so late-80’s metal fans could all probably agree that Operation: Mindcrime was the best of the Ryche--everything after that was lame and everything before wasn’t as well developed. So, Mindcrime is their best (and anyone who disagrees with me is a fascist).

Now, what is the best song on the album?

It could be “Spreading the Disease” with its filth and anger, but the spoken word portion pushes perilously close to cheesy. It could be “Breaking the Silence” with Tate’s soaring vocals and angsty lyrics. But, no, there are better songs here. “Eyes of a Stranger” is probably the sentimental favorite, but I’m not fond of sentimental favorites, even if they are reminiscent of Pink Floyd in some ways.

It could be “I Don’t Believe in Love"--and if teen girls had anything to say about it, this would be the end of the list. Lucky for you, I’m a hypercritical old guy who realizes that the best song on any heavy metal album can’t be the ballad. Even if it’s a really good ballad and maybe not quite as ballad-y as something from posers like White Lion or Bon Jovi.

No, the way I see it, it comes down to “The Needle Lies” and “Speak"--which is to say, making a choice between these two is tough. “The Needle Lies” was my favorite for a long time. It was the fastest, hardest song on offer, and that beat still grabs my attention. In fact, if you walked into my office while I was listening to this one, you’d find me nodding along with the song, mumbling the words--sort of embarrassed--"carved my cure with the blade that left me in scars/ now every time I’m weak words scream from my arm.” Oh, yeah.

The vocals on “Speak” are better, though--in fact, some of the best that the album has to offer. The drums (with just the right hint of cowbell (heh)) and the guitar work are superb examples of the 80’s heavy metal aesthetic. But the lyrics dive down into some stereotypical “boy, don’t rich people suck since they control the country and rape the poor” kind of philosophy that is harder to overlook the older I get.

Which leaves me with “The Needle Lies” as the best song on Queensryche’s best album.

(Although, damned if the ten-minute epic “Suite Sister Mary” doesn’t just cry out for recognition.)

None of which explains why the country has gone batty over Bush having the NSA perform signal intelligence duites sans warrants. Until this last week, there seemed to be an accepted and rather liberal concept of the necessity of secretly collecting electronic intelligence in times of war. Presidents, with an obligation to provide for national security, have historically had quite a bit of leeway in deciding how to collect intelligence from “agents of a foreign power"--in fact, I would suspect that most Americans have always expected the President (any American President) to have secret programs for collecting signal intelligence from belligerent foreign powers (including terrorists) that have nothing to do with needing warrants.

I would go further and suggest that most Americans would see that as a reasonable activity and would understand the distinction between the need to gather warrants for criminal investigations but not for military and national security operations. Most Americans aren’t all Americans, I realize, and some dissent is to be expected.

But how many people are really surprised that an American President (following Sep. 11th) instituted a secret program to collect signal intelligence from suspected terrorists and their contacts? Not me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Apocalyptic Tease

I still think Apocalypto sounds like a comic book villain--and not a very well-named comicbook villain, at that. Seeing the trailer was enough to convince me that I want to see Mel Gibson’s latest, though.

Although it seems odd to me to give a Greek name to a movie about Mayans that will be acted by unknowns speaking Yucatec (one of a number of Mayan languages).

Things I Want to Think About

  1. So, about the latest Bush-related uproar: is it really shocking that an American President has ordered spy services to actually spy? While it’s always worrisome, it’s not unique; it would also have been pretty surprising if he hadn’t taken some drastic steps following 9/11. As Jon Schmidt, former Associate Attorney General under Clinton, has written:

    President Bush’s post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents.

    In the Supreme Court’s 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president’s authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.
    [...]
    Every president since FISA’s passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the act’s terms. Under President Clinton, deputy Atty. Gen. Jamie Gorelick testified that “the Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.”

    You can argue that this isn’t right or that these powers need to be curbed; what you can’t argue is that there is anything unique in Bush’s actions or his reasonable expectation that he was acting within the bounds of the law.

  2. Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime 2 disturbs me. Not only has the Ryche failed to make a good album in years, but this might make my memories of Mindcrime and the Livecrime concert something a little sad (depending on just how much of a tragedy Mindcrime 2 turns out to be). Now comes perhaps the worst news of all: the has-been guest spot. Dio will be making a guest appearance.

    I find myself wishing that Queensryche had quit making music long before they had lost all musical relevance.

  3. Earlier this week there was quite a tumult over Time’s Threesome of the Year: Bono, Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates. A few thoughts:
    • There are worse choices by far.
    • Sure, there were better choices--or, at least, other choices equally deserving. But when you have to make a public choice, you’re guaranteed to make someone cranky.
    • What? This was really worth getting upset over? Sorry, but I really don’t see it.

  4. Madrugada, Midnight Choir, and Matisyahu are the musicians of the season for me. A moody Norwegian rock band, a moody Norwegian alt.country band, and a Hasidic Jewish reggae artist. It’s a strange and beautiful world.

  5. When it comes to Intelligent Design, I don’t want it taught in school science classes. For it to be science, it has to be provable--and no one has yet devised a plan to test for the existence of an intelligent designer. Until there is a way to start a testing process, ID can’t really rise to the level of a scientific theory--it’s just a hunch (and a religious-based hunch at that) and it doesn’t belong being taught to kids in public schools.

    I believe in an intelligent designer (I call that being God and He has a distinct post-modern Baptist feel about Him) in a religious sense, but I have yet to be convinced of Intelligent Design in a scientific sense. Most of the most compelling thoughts on the ID side is really just poking at evolution and finding weak spots.

    But, hey, what do I know? I’m not a scientist and the outcome of the debate doesn’t actually change my faith; it just changes the way that faith operates in the universe around me.
  6. This commentary makes me want to see Brokeback Mountain even more. While I won’t fall into the trap of labeling actors “brave” for taking roles that are almost guaranteed to have critics mouthing “Oscar”, I will say that there are a lot of extremely talented people involved in the movie. That doesn’t mean it will be good, I know, but it does give the movie a good head start. So, when does it go into wide release?

This Christmas season--busy with freelance work, work-related work, family and friends, and the still-unsolved shopping/wrapping/shipping problem that means some people on my list will be getting friendly post-Christmas Christmas presents--hasn’t left me much time to think. But if I had time, this is the stuff I would be thinking about.

Driven to Crankiness

After the drive to work today, all I have to say is it’s not a very damned beautiful day in my neighborhood.

Jeez.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Iraqi Security Forces

I’ve been a little negligent in linking Macomber’s articles since he’s been in Iraq. That comes from a little bit of bad timing, not from a lack of good articles on his part. His TAS article today is a good place to catch back up.

If only those so eager to disparage Iraqi Security Forces as a sham could see these brave, war grizzled men head out on patrol, packed nine or ten in the back of a Toyota pick-up truck that has been spray-painted camouflage, traveling the same roads American soldiers get killed on riding in up-armored Humvees. They go without complaint, armed with old Kalashnikovs and what look like massive Cold War-era Soviet machine guns jury-rigged to their vehicles.

For anyone who supported the effort in Iraq, this kind of courage to fight in support of a fledgling government is heartening. For all that I respect and support our troops--for all that I admire their willingness to put themselves in danger for what are, in truth, abstract ideas like freedom--I can’t help but be at least as impressed with those Iraqis who have stood up and helped build a nation.

They are targeted more often, outfitted poorly, and not equipped with the kind of national identity that Americans have; yet they fight, they struggle, and put themselves in harm’s way because they believe that they are building a better country for themselves and their families.

And don’t forget to check out Shawn’s other articles. You can find them linked on his own blog, Return of the Primitive, where you can also donate to support his reporting and tell him what you think of his articles. (And, yes, “Operation Desert Shawn” still cracks me up.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Late Night Recommendation

I’m working on a logo for a client and, as is my habit when working late at night, I put a movie in the DVD player. I always try to choose something that I’ve seen before--something that won’t distract me too much while I work, but that can occupy that part of my mind that likes noise and activity in the background.

Tonight I chose In Good Company. I think I’ve raved about this one before, but, just in case, here’s my what I have to say: in a quiet, modest way, this has to count as one of the best movies that I saw this year. The soundtrack is beautiful, the acting is superb, the direction is often subtle and honest, and the story is engrossing.

It isn’t the Revealed Universal Truth of Hollywood--so it doesn’t have to beat viewers with messages, preachy moments, or overly self-important pronouncements. It just slowly reveals a story that is touching and graceful and sweet.

Hollywood could use more like this one (and, yeah, less like King Kong).

A Couple Football Thoughts

  1. For Broncos fans, it had to be good to see the team running game living up to expectations this week. After three weeks of declining rushing stats, the Broncos again controlled the tempo of the last half of the game with a consistent rushing attack that ground out first downs. There are two reasons for this: first, Buffalo’s absolutely dreadful running defense, and, second, Shanahan abandoned the three back rotation (Anderson, Bell, and Dayne) for the two back rotation (Anderson and Bell). Running backs need carries--especially grinders like Anderson.
  2. For KC fans: ouch. Just ouch. I didn’t see that coming. A loss to a good team wasn’t out of the question, but the defensive letdowns that allowed Tiki Barber to rush for over 200 yards was both out of character and dismal given how important this game was for the team. Ouch. On the plus side, Chiefs’ RB Larry Johnson is going to do some serious damage to opposing teams next season—sadly, his great season is probably going to go to waste as the Chiefs now need a lot of help to make the playoffs.
  3. On the other hand, I wasn’t too surprised to see San Diego spoil Indy’s perfect season (stopped, like the Broncos in ‘98, at 13-1). Again, two reasons: first, San Diego’s defense played the Colts beautifully, and, second, the Colts were not playing their best game. I wouldn’t suggest that they didn’t want to win, but they didn’t have the kind of intensity that they’ve shown through the rest of the season--and, having already wrapped up their division and home field throughout, who could blame them? I’m not taking anything away from a San Diego team that played a fine game; I’m just saying that if the Chargers face the Colts in the playoffs, it will be a very different game.
  4. I don’t think it’s Favre’s last year. I just can’t believe that he would retire after a season like this. Admittedly, he hasn’t performed as consistently or as well as people expect--but he’s still a damn site better than a good number of QBs in this league and he had no help from his team. If he believes that the Packers will be healthy again next year, how could he not come back for at least one more year?
  5. The Broncos may not be a great team, but they are one of the best-balanced teams in the league and they put together a season that put my early predictions to shame. I was wrong about the Cleveland players, I was wrong about Plummer, I was wrong about the secondary, and I was wrong about the coaching. Good for me!
  6. League MVP? Either Shaun Alexander or Tiki Barber. You could make a case for Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, or LaDainian Tomlinson, but I’m not sure that any of them are as important to their team as either Barber or Alexander.

A Beautiful Thought

My friend has left town and it’s back to regular posting for me (I consider last week to be sort of a self-declared blogging holiday). So, here’s a happy thought for you: I’ve said here before that I think Morgan Freeman is a fine actor, but apparently he shares some of my same beliefs. What he says here is, quite literally, almost a word-for-word capture of something that I’ve said before.

Television often celebrates Black History Month with showings of his films, but Morgan Freeman thinks the whole idea of a month for black history is “ridiculous.”

The actor tells Mike Wallace he opposes designating a special month because it separates black history from American history, and is part of a labeling process that abets racism.
[...]
“You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” Freeman asks Wallace. After noting there is no “white history month,” he says, “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history,” he tells Wallace.

I like Morgan Freeman an awful lot right now.

Read the rest.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Coming Back for the Funny

I’ll duck back into silence here in a moment, but my morning reading started with the Corner and was directed smartly over to the Huffington Post for this about Santa Claus:

In most situations, I would never sit on the lap of an old white male—especially one that is wearing red and white. After all, red is the color of the blood of innocent Iraqis. And white is the color of Tookie William’s executioners. His boots are black—like Karl Rove’s soul.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this country. And anyone who says I don’t is a fascist. I just think Amerikkka is responsible for everything wrong that has ever happened in this world.

Like Santa, the US goes to different countries and drops presents on them.

Except these presents are BOMBS.

I had to share.

Read the rest.

PS- Read the comments. The people who don’t get it really don’t get it.

If you take my meaning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Is it Just Me…

...Or is Iran engaging in some serious attention-seeking behavior lately?

Seriously, it’s like dealing with an eight year old with nuclear aspirations. Idiot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

And Now for Something Completely Different

I’ve watched this video (click through) a number of times and had friends and co-workers watch it, too. We are all in agreement: burn him, he’s a witch.

PS- The first part is sort of pedestrian--cool, but you’ve seen it before. It’s the second part that raises eyebrows.

“Tookie” Williams and the Death Penalty (Updated)

"Tookie” Williams is dead. His request for clemency (and strange dual proclamation of both innocence and redemption--two ideas that don’t seem to go so well together). Having read Governor Schwarzenegger’s denial of clemency, I must give credit where it is due: he explained his position eloquently and persuasively. Honestly, given the facts of the case and the history of the more than two decades of appeals, I don’t believe that any governor would have been compelled to react differently.

Watching anti-death penalty protestors last night, I couldn’t help but think that they choose the worst possible way to support their own cause. They use simple slogans and quotes ("An eye for an eye leaves us all blind"), they choose to defend the indefensible (like Williams), and that will always leave the voting public at a distance.

When people hear about Williams brutality and callousness, when they look at the evidence that the prosecutors put forward, and when they think about the defenseless people that he killed, they aren’t inclined to be sympathetic. When they hear that he always claimed to be innocent and never once expressed sorrow for the victims, but claims to have undergone a religious awakening that left him a changed man, they wonder what kind of transformation he could have experienced. When they hear about his anti-gang writing, they wonder why LA is still so dangerous. Where is it in this man that they are supposed to find a reason for extraordinary forgiveness?

Defending guys like Williams will never win the debate. They’ll gain footing with conspiracy theorists and people who believe that any time a black man or woman is arrested it must have been racially motivated; but reasonable people will just wonder whey they should care.

I remain steadfastly opposed to the death penalty--but crying for “justice” for a guy like “Tookie” Williams just isn’t going to change many minds.

Update: This is how Tucker Carlson describes his feelings about the death penalty today.

When I woke up on Monday, I was opposed to the death penalty. It’s not that I think there are a lot of wrongly condemned men out there; virtually everyone on death row did it. Virtually all of them deserve to die. The question is: Should we kill them?
[...]
That was my position at 8:30 a.m. Then I spent the day reading about Stanley “Tookie” Williams and his celebrity defenders. I’m still opposed to the death penalty on principle. But I’m almost as opposed to the people who defend Tookie Williams.

How many of them, I wonder, have any real idea why Williams is on death row? Most know he was convicted of murdering four people. But do they know his victims’ names? Do they know anything about Albert Owens, the night manager of a 7-11 who was 26-years-old when Williams forced him to kneel to the ground before shooting him twice in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun? Owens left behind two daughters. Has Snoop Dog held a fundraiser for them?

There’s a lot to agree with in Carlson’s article--at least for a guy like me. There’s a little room left for disagreement, though: Carlson ends the article by saying “It can make you feel sorry even for people like Tookie Williams.” I have yet to find a shred of sorrow in me for Williams.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Designer Complaints

I just wrote, and deleted, two long posts discussing logo design (and the need for simplicity) and system navigation design (and catering to the complaints of the few). I then decided that this was just mindless complaining--a couple posts that wouldn’t do anyone any good.

But damn, I’m feeling frustrated today.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Volunteers to the Meme (Updated)

The Great and Heady Challenge of the Seven Sevens Meme of Life has been furthered by the following (not including Patrick and Rae who knew that they were immune and yet taunted the others evilly).

  1. Nathan (Who is the most eager self-infector ever)
  2. Matt Navarre (Who, apparently, can’t play piano, can’t speak a foreign language, and can’t drink gin. Apparently, the purpose of this meme is to goad me into mocking people--but I’m doing my best to resist the urge)
  3. Andy
  4. Patrick (Who, if he still blogged somewhere, would probably take part in the craziness)
  5. Rae (Who declares her own immunity, but couldn’t stop herself from commenting in a blatant breach of blogging etiquette Who plays because peer pressure is a cruel, cruel thing)
  6. Craig
  7. Dorkafork (Who, I have to admit, gets the Funniest Voluntary Response to a Meme of All Time award for this one. Puts my list to shame.)

I expect the other infectibles to catch up with their civic blogging duties here in the next few days. Otherwise they will be shunned and mocked with all of the power of my mocking. And shunning.

Notes: Jed doesn’t count since he was the original carrier. David J doesn’t count because he’s, you know, me.

Update: Extra-Meme-ification from Shannon. Who can’t do cartwheels. Wuss. 

Friday, December 09, 2005

Seven: I’ve Been Memed

Jed memed me.

Bastard. I’d probably ignore him if it weren’t for his excellent taste in weaponry.

Since this is an extra long (there’s a “that’s what she said joke” lurking right at the surface, isn’t there?) meme, I put most of the answers below the fold. So there.

Seven things to do before I die

  1. Own an Aston Martin.
  2. Take at least five months--alone--to trek from Cape Town to Marrakech.
  3. Go on a cruise.
  4. Write a best-selling novel. Or a reasonably selling novel. Or a novel that sells one copy to each and every one of my very best friends who then go on to buy a copy for someone that they love because they know it will make me happy to have book sales in the double digits.
  5. Dress up as Doc Holliday for Halloween.
  6. Vacation in India.
  7. Live a very long life.

Read the Rest...

AFC West Stuff

In case you hadn’t noticed, Nathan does a pretty good job of rounding up the AFC West standings every week, and this week he’s done even better than usual. There’s always a little “homer” in his stuff, but this week is more balanced than you would expect from a die-hard Chiefs fan.

Observation: A Nation of Millionaires

First this:

It was a short, simple story - one which would have had absolutely no relevance in a normal society. But then Zim is rapidly precipitating from normality. The cause for her shock? She had phoned her stationery supplier! Now that is hardly any likely cause for shock, is it? All she had wanted was a ream of thin white A4-size card. “No problem”, said the supplier, “That will be Z$295,000 per sheet”. PER SHEET???

My observation: people often joke about money not being worth the paper that it’s printed on. Here is an honest situation where the paper that the money is printed on being far more valuable than the “currency” it represents.

The unofficial exchange rate is one dollar US is worth a little over 74,147 Zimbabwe dollars. So, assuming you could find a place that actually had the paper that you wanted to buy (I’m guessing that’s not as easy as it may seem--just a guess, though), it would cost you just under US $4 per sheet at the official exchange rate to buy a sheet of paper.

The cost of that sheet of paper is merely ridiculous to us (where the median household income is around US $50,000 or well over Zim $3.7 billion dollars per year), but what is its meaning in a country where unemployment is estimated at 70%?

Let’s look at this a bit closer - Zim’s highest denomination banknote is a Z$20,000 “Bearer Cheque”. You would need a wad of 7375 x Z$20,000 Bearer Cheques to buy one ream! Some more simple maths - Bearer Cheques are usually packed in bundles of 100, which are about 15mm thick. That is then a pile of notes about 1.1 metres tall!

According to old (and, what could only be described in comparison to the current economy in Zimbabwe, overly optimistic) data, the gross national per capita income was only US $506 (which at the US Treasury quoted exchange rate of Zim $24150 per US dollar would mean a gross national per capita income of $12,219,900--but we’ll stick with the unofficial rate because this more official rate would only buy about a third of the sheets of paper) annually or about 127 sheets of paper.

Which actually brings me to a point or three:

  1. I have no idea what the official figures actually mean. What does it mean to scrape by in a country with so little money, so little food, and so little in the way of job opportunities? The figures are meaningless and quite possibly completely out of touch with the reality of living in Zimbabwe.
  2. But it is just as obviously true that the Zimbabwe dollar is worthless. It barely functions as currency for its citizens, is unwanted on money markets, and is really becoming less a benchmark of purchasing power than a benchmark of misery.
  3. The actual value of money has never simply been in having barrels of the stuff. A million dollars is meaningless if it isn’t sufficient to buy food and shelter (or if there isn’t anything left in the stores and gas stations to buy).

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