Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

December 2004

General and TravelFriday, December 31st, 2004, (5:54 pm)

I just want to extend a very happy New Yeear to everyone who reads my Xanga and my other websites. I hope you all have a great night and a fantastic New Year.

The picture above was taken by me the day after Christmas at Rockaway beach here in Oregon.

PoliticalFriday, December 31st, 2004, (5:49 pm)

Okay, I’m feeling a bit annoyed while I sit here watching CNN and Colin Powell standing in a press conference with Kofee Annan. I’m sorry to say that the United States has come in for some deserved criticism for being “stingy” in their pledge of money to help Southeast Asia after the quake and tsunami disaster. 35 million dollars was a shameful amount of money for the richest country in the world to offer, but even last night America was justifying this. However today, Powell announces that America will now give ten times that and now be the leaders along with the UN is rebuilding the Southeast Asian region.

My annoyance is that it rather looks like the American govt. have been guilted into actually giving the kind of money and aid they should have given in the first place. And now America will, with the UN, lead the aid effort over there. Funny that they want to be so close with the UN when they were content to trounce the wishes of the United Nations when they wanted to go to war for oil in Iraq. It seems to two faced to me.

Of course I think that the scale of the disaster needs a central response control, but I want that to be run by the UN and NOT the USA. The UN will be more trusted by the counties involved I think, rather than the US which I would think will be viewed with a rather large dose of mistrust and caution for their possible hidden political objectives. I’m sure there are people who will shoot me down for saying this, but I think that America needs to recognize that it can’t waltz on into this situation in John Wayne style and play the hero. Not only because that is impractical, but also because America’s international image has been so badly damaged in the last 4 years. The UN need to take a lead here, coordinating the international aid effort which is needed.

Unsurprisingly President Bush is getting beaten up in the worlds press for taking 3 (though it’s more like 4) days to actually come out and express sympathy for those caught up in the tragedy. He may not have meant it to look this way, but some people are wondering whether Bush was so slow to say anything because Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world. By any standard, Bush embarrassed himself by not speaking about the tsunami for three days when every other world leader had spoken publicly about it within hours. At least if he couldn’t put figures on the table quickly should he not have said something to represent America’s emotional response?

The other thing that has annoyed me while watching coverage of the tsunami, is how new networks over here have been asking if a tsunami could happen here and how America should prepare. It seems more than a little callus in my opinion to say “what about us” so quickly when the death toll is still rising. That’s like me coming to you talking about how concerned I am for my granddad’s situation with MRSA and you then saying “What if I get MRSA, how prepared am I.”

Already the news networks here have started to inject yet more fear into the American flock by telling viewers that this is now a time of ‘easy pickings’ for al Queda and other terrorist networks who will start a hard drive to recruit the orphaned children in this disaster.

Frankly I am surprised that Bush hasn’t declared a war on tsunami’s!!

All of the Americans I know are ordinary decent people, all of them are clearly filled with compassion for those effected by the tsunami. Many of them are openly critical of the way America is acting on the international stage too. It’s knowing this country is full of people just like my American friends that makes me so mad I think, because there are a lot of people who see America represented purely by the foolish, selfish and arrogant asses that stand up and speak for the country.

GeneralThursday, December 30th, 2004, (9:48 pm)

My grandma has been sick for a while and in hospital for a couple of weeks. Things were looking much better for her. But now my granddad has contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from visiting her in hospital. Doctors have said the outlook is fairly grim for him.

In short, he could die as a result of visiting my grandmother in hospital!

He was a fairly healthy 84 year old guy until he visited his wife in a hospital ward. That is so maddening. He’s on oxygen and all kinds of monitors. My grand parents have always been around. The reality of the fact that they won’t be here for much longer has never been more apparent.

The thing is, that my grandma made herself really sick by not telling anyone she was ill because she didn’t want to go to hospital. We all got mad about that, but then I thought about it and about the fact that they’ve watched friends go to hospital sick and never ever come home again. So for them at their age a trip to hospital is a terrifying prospect because I suppose they fear it might be their last trip.

I never considered the possibility that it actually might be.

GeneralTuesday, December 28th, 2004, (6:13 am)

I’m sitting here watching the news of the devastating tsunami that has ravaged Southeast Asia killing thousands of people, as well as people some 4000 miles away in Eastern Africa. Everyone has gone to bed and as I watch the constant repetitious news on TV I feel very sad knowing that the region I visited in India back in November was one of the worst effected places. Thousands of people in Tamil Nadu are dead, many of those I met in the poor villages we visited will certainly be among the bodies that are being counted in the worst natural disaster of modern times.

I feel particularly sad because the villages I visited were already desperately poor. The purpose of my trip was to start an effort to raise corporate awareness of the terrible poverty in that region of India, and encourage large food organizations to give money to aid agencies working with the poor and the needy to build education and agricultural systems that could help them claw there way out of the desperate conditions they lived in.

But as night fall here on the West coast of the United States the huge operation of counting and identifying the dead in Tamil Nadu is taking place. There are thousands of people unaccounted for, whole families simply swept away. The smiling faces of the children who so enthusiastically greeted me in the poor gypsy villages will surely not be smiling tonight. And as those memories continue to flash through my mind I can’t help but wonder how many of them will have perished in this most tragic demonstrations of the wrath of nature and the frailty of human life.

I feel so sad for these people and everyone effected. Years of relief work and social restructuring work by the charities I was visiting with, have simply been washed away. For the survivors the peril ahead is now the very real possibility of disease epidemics as the already scare water supplies are contaminated by the salty tsunami waters that are awash with dead bodies, dead animals and millions of tons of debris.

It seems wrong to worry about any specific people, but learning that the tsunami reached as far inland and claimed lives in Turanevelli, the city where we our hotel was, has made me wonder how the disaster may have effected those people who so kindly played host to us while we visited that region. At this time we have heard no news from them. They are impossible to reach, I can only hope this is because they are among those who are helping deal with this tragedy, and not among those who have lost their lives.

GeneralFriday, December 24th, 2004, (8:19 pm)

And bollocks to all the politically correct garbage – It’s Christmas so I say Merry Christmas!

(Cartoon from The Portland Tribune.)

TravelThursday, December 23rd, 2004, (5:01 pm)

So I just went to the cigar shop next to my temporary office here in Portland (the temporary office being the Portland Coffee House) and asked if they had any menthol cigars.

The look I got was like “WTF?” It reminded me of snobby independent record shop clerks in Liverpool, and the way they would sneer at anything ever purchased from them.

“Menthol cigars?” Said the clerk in a superior way that forewarned me that I was about to get ripped apart by cigar shop snobbery.
“Yeah, I bought some in the summer and I liked them.”
“You didn’t buy them here though did you now.”
“Well no, but..”
“See that’s kuz we don’t sell cigars for pussy’s.” Said the clerk laughing with his coworkers at my expense. I can take a joke, so I respond.
“Well I don’t really smoke but..”
“What you eat them?” More in laughter among the coworkers
“No I smoke them but I actually don’t smoke.”
“Well what the hell are you doing smoking pussy cigars then?”
“It was nice.”
“It was a menthol cigar, would you drink a menthol beer?” More coworker laughter.
“Well no, but sometimes I like to smoke a cigar, you know, when there is a cigar moment.”
“A menthol cigar moment no less.” More laughter
“Well, clearly you don’t sell them, do you know anywhere that does?”
And then a voice from a back room shouts “Try a gay bar!” to which the entire shop collapses in laughter which I will admit was quite funny, even though the joke was at my expense.

At this point I made my excuse and left.

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