Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Blogs Of Iraq

I do not want to be right in theory but in nature.
---Paul Cezanne
Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral.
---John Burroughs
Year after year
the monkey's mask
reveals the monkey.
I'll never grow to like the word "blog." At, where perhaps blogging was invented, we've used the word "log" to describe the simple acts of composition that record the thoughts and events of our days. Blog is a heavy, slogging sort of word to me, and yields none of the poetic beauty I associate with the act of writing...especially on the Internet. I like the idea I'm keeping a log of my voyage. Even "diary," with its romantic, secretive connotations, is better than blog---a word that invites derision in its very pronunciation.

Be that as it may, I came to the computer this morning with the innocent intention to catch up on email. (Continued apologies to the legion out there to whom I owe messages and replies.) The very first note I read was from Tim Chavez in Columbus, who's a friend of Annie Warmke, proprietress of the innovative I'm sure Tim and I are going to get to meet someday soon, but for now we're still encouraging each other's politics with messages now and then. This one, which he actually sent yesterday, sent me browsing all over the place for an hour...and maybe you'd like to share. Hopefully you already know all about this, but I'm just learning.
There are 2 blogs, written by Iraqis, that are getting more and more visits every day. The first is called Baghdad Burning, written by an anonymous girl (she calls herself that) with the pseudonym Riverbend. Need I say more? Just her choice of a name gives you a taste of how brilliantly she writes and what a beautiful soul she is. I was worried about hoax and so went to Google, but I see no yelling from the military right except for one guy who tried to parody her (fell flat). Wikipedia even has an entry for her that begins "Riverbend is the pseudonymous author of the blog Baghdad Burning, launched August 17, 2003. Riverbend's identity is carefully hidden, but the weblog entries suggest that Riverbend is a young, unmarried Iraqi woman, from a mixed Shia and Sunni family, living with her parents and brother in Baghdad. Before the United States occupation of Iraq she was a computer programmer. She writes in an idiomatic English which appears to reflect a Western education. The blog combines political statements with a large dose of Iraqi cultural information, such as the celebration of Ramadhan and examples of Iraqi cuisine. In March 2006, her website received the Bloggie award for Best Middle East and Africa blog."
Her entries have been collected into TWO books now, easily available at Amazon. There are 2 editorial reviews at that link, but you may also be interested in what The New York Review of Books has to say , and maybe a very moving extract at Open Democracy . The customer reviews at Amazon are indicative of the impact Riverbend is having around the world and here in the States especially. The actual blog is right here at Blogspot, where so many of us also store our writing: .
The other blogger may be considered an Iraqi exile I suppose. Raed Jarrar left his homeland in 2005 and moved here for the time being. Also at Blogspot, he began writing in 2002 at Dear Raed and his earliest entries still are there . But since moving here he writes at Raed In The Middle . Raed's current work, with a photo of him, is described here: "Since the summer of 2006, Mr. Jarrar has worked as the Iraq Project Director of Global Exchange where he facilitates the publication of op-eds and policy papers by Iraqi leaders in U.S. newspapers and works at bridging the gap between Iraqi leaders and U.S. Congress members by arranging face-to-face meetings between U.S. and Iraqi leaders. He is currently based in Washington DC. He is also an analyst and contributing writer for Foreign Policy in Focus and a member of the steering committee of the NY-based coalition United For Peace and Justice."
I have yet really to delve into these blogs but I look forward to do so. I have a feeling, between the two of these young people, we have a chance to learn some different truths about this world.


Anonymous said...

Hi Richard,
I'm a friend of Carolyn V's in Rome. She's searching for your snail mail address. Could you send it to me and I'll pass it on to her. I'm lauraflu at She's trying to send you a letter but it's been returned to her.
thanks! (nice blog, BTW!)

jazzolog said...

Laura Flu! I hope you're not catching. Thank you for the marvelous comment...and of course I'll email the snail. Yeah, we live out in the savage sticks of Southeast Ohio, where the term "redneck" is not an epithet. For fun the younger ones like to celebrate their beer by bashing mailboxes with baseball bats. After repair and replacement a couple times, we noticed one morning they had robbed it completely. Not an unusual story in these parts, so like our neighbors we've resorted to a post office box. Please apologize to Carolyn for I neglected to inform her. BTW I THINK I sent her a copy of a piece I wrote about her, but you may enjoy it too~~~ (the last one down the scroll - October 3rd).

jazzolog said...

Two friends of mine have been arguing for some time at the New Civilization version of jazzoLOG. One seems to advocate for peaceful changes of policy through congressional representatives, while the other says it's time for guns. This is a republic and those politicians we vote for are supposed to carry out the will of the majority, but all the polls show we the people have certain mandates about which our representatives don't appear to do very much. My warrior friend laughs at our naivete. Even if I don't quit my job, drop out and head for the hills, I do find myself inspired by the great and patriotic spirit of revolution upon which our country is founded. Now I see more and more on the Internet---but not in the media---that people increasingly are discerning the firing lines. In fact, Firing Line was the name of William Buckley's TV show for many years, and it was he 40 years ago who declared a Culture War that neocons in the White House now are determined to win whether the citizenry wants it or not. One comment I read this morning stopped me in my tracks:

Name: Robert Castle Date: Feb 19, 2007
The role of the neocons in our government since they invaded and occupied the White House is seldom if ever mentioned by the main stream media. My information sources are limited and it is difficult to assess their credibility but the argument can be made that but for the neocons, we would not be in danger of permanently losing our democracy with its rights and obligations, duties and privileges. The United States is in the middle of a de facto civil war. The combatants are the neocons and their allies, the industrial/military complex, the main stream media, and the fundamentalists on one side and those who are defending our Constitution and the rule of law in general, foreign and domestic, the true patriots, on the other. The United States cannot be both a militaristic empire and a democracy such as was built on the principles set forth in our Constitution. Only one side can win.

That comment is in a thread that follows a fascinating interview with Noam Chomsky at Foreign Policy In Focus. The part of the interview most people seem to be noticing involves what Chomsky calls the Mafia Principle as foundation of our relations with other countries---and our own citizens as well. "International affairs is very much run like the mafia. The godfather does not accept disobedience, even from a small storekeeper who doesn’t pay his protection money. You have to have obedience otherwise the idea can spread that you don’t have to listen to the orders and it can spread to important places."

The treatment of "disobedience" is very much a part of a fascist form of control...and that possibility is at the very center of Joe Conason's new book It Can Happen Here. A large excerpt from the beginning of the book is posted at AlterNet, with a lot of comments. The excerpt ends, "The question that we face in the era of terror alerts, religious fundamentalism, and endless warfare is whether we are still the brave nation preserved and rebuilt by the generation of Sinclair Lewis -- or whether our courage, and our luck, have finally run out." Which side are you on?

Tom Bombadil said...

A bit of trivia: The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May of 1999.

The truth of the matter is that, as with everything in the making, early bloggers did what they did without really having a name for what they were doing. So, while it took some time for this new form of web based journals and related activity to establish itself and be recognized to the degree it is now, blogging has been around since the beginning of the internet.

Before blogging became popular, digital communities took many forms, including Usenet, e-mail lists and bulletin board systems (BBS). In the 1990s, Internet forum software, such as WebEx, created running conversations with "threads". is a community site that has existed since 1995.

When was launched in early 1995, the thought was that there would be a network of decentralized servers, owned and operated by different people or group of people. Either by neglect or by design (opinions on the matter differ) the project has fallen short of its original ambitions and the site is currently hosted on the server(s) of one the original founders who maintains the site freely and benevolently.

2007 ! --- Well, things have been moving along spectacularly since the 1990s and the dream of a "network of decentralized servers owned and operated by different people" is well and alive.

Its name?

The World Wide Web! (But this is another story - or is it?)

In any case, it is always a real pleasure to read Richard Carlson's articles, as it is to find yet another manifestation of his blog, here, on

I discovered jazzolog back during his first incarnation, on, and have been reading his logs along with the logs of a few other bloggers who were keeping or are still keeping an account there, not all of whom have been as active or as persistently committed as my good friend Richard, a dedication to "blogging" (though he hate that word) that I truly admire in him, and certainly one of his more endearing qualities. Reading his journal is always a pleasure, a thing I do regularly as I drop here often.

jazzolog said...

Ain't the WWW grand! Sad as this entry actually is, it's provided opportunity to meet lauraflu, reconnect with Carolyn V, and catch up with old Internet buddy Bombadil---and prepare for some good reading in his merry weblog. But that's not all: where in the world did Tom find that info about logs 'n blogs? Wikipedia? Jorn Barger! I KNOW Jorn...but didn't know he invented the term "weblog," a term that could be viewed as a bit creepy poetically but preferable to boggy blog. Maybe Jorn WROTE the Wikipedia article. And Tom, did you know that Jorn's father, Rex Barger (who abandoned the States long ago for Canada) is a member of NCN...but never did much in it that I know of?

Thanks also to Tom for mentioning jazzoLOG's past history. The NCN version goes back a couple of years but at some point I stored the whole thing at though I don't get much action in there. I can't remember how I started putting stuff up here. Probably I had to join to leave a comment somewhere, and just started posting. Anyway it's a delight to write on the computer for me...and I'm not sure why that is either. Handwriting in English was tough for a leftie like me, and I liked typewriters but there's a lot of hassle with ribbons and corrections. This way truly is fun!