Friday, August 25, 2006

The Nomad on BigDawgRadio Tonight at 9:00 pm EST

It’s Friday again, which means it’s time to get ready for another airing of The Nomad Show on BigDawgRadio from 9pm est to 1am. This should be a very special show, because along with our normal sponsors, BlogExplosion and BlogMad, we are joined by a third sponsor, the 3 Paws Saloon, who will be hosting a 40s and 50s party that will be entertained by the show.  This is what 3 Paws has to say:

Come meet old and new friends from around the globe. 3 Paws Saloon is a shared chatroom of multiple groups, and is international, with English as the primary language. The main hosts (owners) are Valkricry and Foxerina. However, we do not demand membership in either group or any group for a person to chat. We do ask that the chat is kept clean, you bring a sense of humor, and have fun though. From LOL to ooh-lala, we have it all.

This is going to be a very fun evening, and I encourage everyone to spend some time at the 3 Paws Saloon. Bring your six-shooter, though, because it may get a bit rough! Meanwhile I suspect the same band of miscreants (whom I have grown to love) will be hanging out in BlogExplosion’s ShoutBox, and you are always welcome there.  Plus, last week we started spending time at BlogMad’s ShoutBox, and it was a great time.

Once again I will be raffling off credits from BlogExplosion and BlogMad.  Last week we had 3 winners: Michele of Michele’s Hangout and Bozette of Pictures From My World won 500 BE credits, while Jana Vent of The Hate File won 500 BM credits. Plus we gave away tons of credits randomly.  If you would like to be registered for these raffles, simply leave a comment here, and you will be registered.  

I do have a new tenant, Rache from Green who will be hanging out with us.  She’s got a cool blog, well worth a view, and it would be fantastic if you would show her some support.  Click the icon on the right, and a new screen will open on the green world. Plus, comment here as to what city she’s from, and I’ll send you 25 credits on either BE or BM.

And, as always, we’ll be doing requests, dedications and a wide variety of other fun things during the show.  So don’t be shy; tell us what you would like to hear, and I’ll make sure it happens for you.  Be original, be creative, I’ll do my best.  This is your show, fellow listeners, so lets work together to make it a special one.  I look forward to seeing everyone tonight from 9pm est until 1am.  

And, in the immortal words of the Big Dawg, AWOOOOOOOOOF!!!!!!!!!!!



Posted by Scottage at 3:45 PM / | |  

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Night To Remember

Many times it has been mentioned to me that I don’t post about personal stuff.  Well, today I will post about something personal, a spectacular evening I had last night.

Over the past 4 months I’ve taken a hiatus from work and focused on self-improvement, on becoming the best Scottage I can be. And while this has been beneficial in so many ways, it has been a rough ride, filled with reliving past emotions, conquering fears, and getting past issues that have haunted me.  

One of the side effects of my program has been that I’ve recaptured my singing voice, which I had believed to be long since lost. I have been a guitarist for 35 years now, and have always been content to jam from the back of the stage, letting the spotlight hit the singer, and remaining in relative anonymity. And even that has been too much for me of late, as in new cities I haven’t been willing to hit the stage at all.

But last night, a group of new friends who also are working on themselves helped me to overcome the fear, by taking me to an open mic, where I both sang and played my guitar. It was only 3 songs in front of maybe 40 people tops, but to me it was so much more.  It was amazing. I felt so energized having overcome the fear and accomplished the task that I can hardly describe it. But the feeling was special, one I’ll remember for a long time.

I was supposed to play two songs, and after each one I got really strong applause, or so it seemed to me.  It’s always hard to tell when you’re on the stage.  Whether it was because I hadn’t played in so long or because I was actually good, the mc asked me to do one more song, which I did gratefully.  And when I was all finished, and the clapping died out, I felt just amazing!

I don’t know how well I played, or if my voice was audible or if it was on tune; for all I know, it could have been absolutely horrific. But it was really special, after all these years, to get back on a stage and just play. I hope to go back and play again.

BTW, the picture above is not from last night, but from the last time I really remember playing out, probably 1998 or 1999 playing in The Folk Club in Tel Aviv, Israel, with a friend Brian playing guitar and another friend, Laura, singing.


Posted by Scottage at 11:08 AM / | |  

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Does Our Military Enjoy Our Freedom?

I guess no one has ever really expected people in the military to be 100% free. The thought has always been that soldiers give up some of their freedom to help support our way of life. But what does it mean when these people, these noble, self-sacrificing members of our society, are then forced to serve beyond their time?

IRRs, or Individual Ready Reserves, are people who have served their four years of active duty, and then serve one day a year with the knowledge that they can serve at any time.  This differs from Regular Reserves, who train regularly, are paid, and receive benefits for the second four-year stint of their military service.

Most IRRs suspect that they will never get called up, and basically enter this tract because, after four years of serving their country, their ready to start living their lives. The people that enter the IRRs ready to serve again have, for the most part already volunteered to head back to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But today George Bush is calling up the first block of 5,000 IRR marines to re-enter the region.  In all there are 59,000 eligible marines, and additional army that hold this role.  All of this to support a recent increase in the number of troops in Iraq, from 127,000 to 138,000.  Only 6 months ago the Bush administration spoke to the declining number of troops in the region, and said that was a trend that would continue.

Huge numbers of Americans push for a phased withdrawal from Iraq, but Bush ignores them.  Meanwhile, the cost of this war, both in terms of dollars and American lives, increases daily. If you want the numbers, check out the Dubya Dashboard on the right.  And our soldiers, the young men and women who chose to serve to protect democracy, are pressed back into duty after serving.

Maybe it’s fair by the letter of their agreement, but it seems far from fair by the spirit of their sacrifice. It’s time these marines enjoy the freedom they’ve fought to protect!

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Posted by Scottage at 10:37 AM / | |  

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The End of the World, of Just a First Step towards It?

Today is the day of reckoning in the Islamic world, the return of the 12th imam, judgment day. Thus it’s little surprise to this writer that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has chosen this day to respond to international demands that Iran cease and desist in building nuclear weapons.  Perhaps the only question is whether he will stop at just words in his response, or attempt to provide a more physical representation of his judgment day.

Ahmadinejad has made no secret of his belief that judgment day, and the nirvana that follows it, can be brought around by the actions of men. He has quoted the Koran many times in noting that judgment day will follow major wars, chaos upon the lands, and a holy fire that will reach out and purge the sources of evil from the earth, and he has indicated that he believes that people can make all that happen.

But does he really believe it?  A friend at lunch yesterday indicated that he sees this as simply rhetoric, an attempt to appeal to the more radical fundamentalist sects that have so much power in Iranian society. And I would love to believe that.  But it certainly doesn’t escape my notice that, when given a deadline by the UN of August 31st to respond to demands to halt their weapons program or face sanctions, he instead chooses today to respond.

I honestly don’t trust Ahmadinejad, but that is potentially because of his direct verbal attacks on my country, Israel. However, I would like to believe my friend is correct, that he really is being more political than hateful, and securing his position in the government as opposed to really believing the rhetoric he spews.

Today, though, that point may become null and void.  If Iran chooses to go forward with its weapons program, as everyone suspects they will, a very dangerous chain of events is set into motion, as it may be only a matter of months before there is a nuclear bomb in the hands of a fundamentalist government. And if he chooses to punctuate Iran’s decision with action, the ramifications may be felt far and wide.

To think that less than a year ago, Ahmadinejad was next to nothing in Iran, a political candidate with little hope of winning his seat, running for a position that was little more than a figure head position to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. And today, he may be the most feared man in the world, with all eyes on him on a day that should inspire fear in all the Western hearts.  Let’s hope his words are mere rhetoric, and that this day won’t bear witness to some worse actions!

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Posted by Scottage at 9:12 AM / | |  

Monday, August 21, 2006

Perspectives of a Nomad: Birth of a Name

A couple weeks ago, Noi Rocker asked me how I determined the name of my blog, and why I write the posts that I do. I created the following posts, and now share it with you, my loyal readers.

In 1988, I was part of the second group of Americans to be allowed to travel in the Soviet Union as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost initiative.  At the time I was at an excellent but extraordinarily liberal college in the Midwest, with very little understanding of how the world worked or how other people viewed the events of the day other than my own narrow, but liberal, understanding. That all changed in the Soviet Union.

I went to the Soviet Union expecting people to be oppressed, straining under the yoke of communism.  I thought my conversations would be about the horror of bread lines, the disgrace of sharing small living spaces with multiple people, and the fear of speaking openly. And I found a great deal of that in the younger generation.  But I found an older generation filled with hope, joy, and prosperity.

Many of the older people there remembered a much tougher time in Russia’s history, a time where few people had jobs, money, or food.  These people remembered a day when they were living on the street through the cold Russian winters, where the country had been destroyed by the horrors of WWII, and where little hope was in sight.  40+ years later, with these memories fresh in their minds, the older Russian generation was grateful for all the Soviet had done for them.

Perhaps most interesting, both generations had similar views on more global events.  Both generations did not trust the West, but they also both felt, for the most part, that the Cold War was more propaganda than fact. Both feared nuclear escalation, longed for peace, and had the same love of art and culture.  I found that, for the most part, all the people had similar core beliefs, but approached different situations with different perspectives.

And this rang true throughout my travels. In Kenya, where the country was technologically far behind the West, people marveled at what we considered passé, but those core values were still the same. In Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, people approach current events based on what they hear in the media, and through their education, but people who subscribe to a view of people in the Middle East as immoral or evil would be shocked to see how similar their base morality is to ours or to Israel’s.

I would find as much difference in perspectives between people in New York and people in Indiana as I would find between people in Philly and people in Egypt, but all of the people would have many more similarities that differences, and the similarities would be more fundamental, more at the core of who these people were.  Traveling from London to Amsterdam would be as great a difference in perspectives as traveling fro Boston to Ocean City, NJ, but different perspectives did not make for different people.

So when it came time to write my blog, I wanted to focus on how similar we are as people, even while coming at events from a different point of view.  I wanted to relay how our core philosophies are really the same, and as such we should be able to find ways to get along and agree on issues that right now divide us.  It’s my belief that if we can find a way to do this, the world will be a much better, much happier, much safer place.

I’ve been blessed with having lived in most of the places I’ve been long enough to see events from the perspective of that area, and when I write I try to take all of these different perspectives into account.  Sometimes it may come out like I’m indecisive, but in reality I’m just looking at an event from multiple points of view, and letting others see that point of view while still relating to their perspective.

It is my sincere hope that, by doing this, I will eventually help at least a few people in divergent cultures relate to each other. Then, perhaps, they will help others relate to each other, and the trend will grow. Because in reality, if we can get past the petty differences, we may find so many similarities between people of the world that we can do away with much of the strife that holds us down today.


Posted by Scottage at 10:26 AM / | |  

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Israel or Hezbollah: Who Violated the Cease Fire First?

UN Secretary General Kofi Anna was quick to back Hezbollah’s claim that the Israeli raid into the Bekaa valley, Lebanon was a violation of the tenuous cease fire agreement in place between Israel and Hezbollah. But is this an unbiased evaluation of the events that took place in Lebanon today, or the UN’s typical anti-Israel sentiment showing up yet again.

It is true that Israel’s commando raid is a direct violation of the cease fire agreement.  However, if Israel’s claims that Hezbollah was rearming are confirmed, and indeed the attack was on a shipment of Iranian and Syrian arms being transported to Hezbollah, than the commando raid was the second violation of the cease fire.  The shipment of arms would be the first violation.

Indeed, this moves back to the question of Israel’s survival.  The conflict with Hezbollah is an effort to prevent bombings of the major Israeli cities, and while Israel may have lost the conflict against Hezbollah, they were successful for the most part in pushing Hezbollah back, reducing their arms and launching capabilities significantly, and protecting Israeli cities, at least to some extent.  

Allowing Hezbollah to re-arm now, under the auspices of a cease-fire, would eliminate all the gains from the conflict. It would again leave Israeli cities vulnerable to the ruthless attacks of Hezbollah on Haifa, and even on Tel Aviv. What’s more, it almost certainly would result in another conflict down the road, as Israel would have to protect its cities. Finally, such a re-arming would be a direct violation of the cease fire agreement.

"If the Syrians and Iran continue to arm Hezbollah in violation of the resolution, Israel is entitled to act to defend the principle of the arms embargo," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. "Once the Lebanese army and the international forces are active ... then such Israeli activity will become superfluous."

I think it has been clear from the onset of the cease fire, when Hezbollah claimed it was not the right time to demilitarize, that they did not want the cease fire.  Hezbollah’s stated goal has always been the destruction of Israel, and so long as no attacks have hit Syria or Iran, there is no deterrent for further action against Israel.  Thus, the cease fire was a nuisance at the very least.

The import of more weapons to the country provided Hezbollah with a method for working around the shackles of the cease fire before the UN peace keepers and Lebanese army were in place.  This import forced Israel into a corner: either they could prevent the weapons transport and receive the wrath of the world courts or they could let the weapons through and Hezbollah could once again attack Israel.  

Either way, Hezbollah could resume attacks on Israel, and now only wait for the UN to weigh in fully before determining their next move.  Israel had no choice but to defend themselves yet again from Hezbollah’s ruthless tactics.  I can only hope that the UN will realize this, and enforce the cease fire they pushed for with Hezbollah!

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Posted by Scottage at 2:25 AM / | |