The perfect anti-war poem:

I mean, what good is a poem by some lowly person against a cruise missile, or an aircraft carrier, or Total Information Awareness?

And this feeling was borne out when I arrived and saw the crowd of mostly oldsters like myself, flying their freak flags the same as ever, only shinier.

I have written poems, especially when I was young, that use war, or have war in them. I typically exploited the horror, the feeling of helplessness, and the landscapes we leave when we give up on one another.

But I couldn’t imagine any of these bad dream poems having a salutary effect on the peace gathering. So I dug up some old World war I poems of Wilfred Owen, “Strange Meeting” and “Dulce et Decorum Est,” both harrowing poems written in his wartime “remission,” when he invalided in England after succumbing to the noise and horror of bombs.

Before they dragged Owen away, he had sat gibbering in a hole for four days with the parts of a comrade splattered all around him.

The thing about Owen’s poems is, they are bitter and sad, like every young man’s poems. Except, he had greater call. I thought, as I looked out at the gathering in the coffee shop, that we had all got so old. I’m twice Owens’ age, and Robert Bly, over there in the corner, is more than three Owens of time.

The war was so terrible, because it took a generation of men educated in genteel ways, and it ground them to puilp. They went off to war like gentlemen, and came back, if they were lucky, with a frankness of expression that was rooted in the greatest grief.

We today owe our freewheeling diction, our realism, to the horrors of the trenches. They gave us e.e. cummings and Hemingway, Robert Graves and Gertrude Stein (she worked as a nurse) … Appolinaire, Cocteau, Eluard and Breton … Isaac Rosenberg, Otto Dix and Eugenio Montale.

They gave us Robert Bridges, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Joyce Kilmer, John Dos Passos, Edith Wharton (likewise a nurse), Archibald Macleish, Giuseppe Ungaretti, W. Somerset Maugham.

These people created a new language of straight talk from the rubble of the empires, which comes so easily to us today. worldgonewrong

Microsoft Tests the Blogging-Tool Waters:

Redmond quietly fields its ASP.Net Community Starter Kit, a freely downloadable Weblog builder.

With Google buying Blogger creator Pyra Labs over the weekend, many are wondering when and if Microsoft will take a similar plunge into the Weblog-tools world.

It will come as a surprise to many that, with little fanfare, Microsoft officially entered the blogging-tool space last week. At the VSLive! developer conference, Microsoft unveiled five new sample applications built on top of its ASP.Net scripting environment. One of these five — the ASP.Net Community Starter Kit — is a blog builder.

“You could use this (Kit) to build a Weblog,” confirms Microsoft developer division product manager Shawn Nandi.’ Microsoft Watch

‘A bit like Kosovo with an oil pipe attached…’

Euro-occupation plan for Iraq:

So now we know the Franco-German alternative to an Anglo-American war against Iraq. It is a plan for the occupation and carve-up of Iraq without a shot being fired.

The German scheme, which has won French support and tacit approval from the Russians, would mean tripling the number of UN weapons inspectors, extending the no-fly zone over the entire country, and sending in thousands of UN troops in what the UK Guardian calls a ‘peaceful invasion’.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) would have complete control over Iraqi airspace and soil, and Iraq would be reduced to the status of a protectorate, a bit like Kosovo with an oil pipe attached. Perhaps Iraq will be governed by a UN High Representative, in the same way that failed UK politician Paddy Ashdown rules Bosnia, effectively replacing Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship with an absolute monarch appointed by the powers that run the UNSC.

Is Mick Hume, writing in sp!ked, a classic British Francophobe/Germanophobe or an unflinching political realist? I had preferred to see the Franco-German postiion as a principled one, but:

This scheme confirms that Germany and France, supposedly the leading anti-war nations, are not really anti-war or anti-intervention at all. They are perfectly happy to support military intervention if it suits their purposes. The Franco-German plan is simply the latest move in the strategic chess game that these governments are playing with President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, designed to boost their international status and their standing at home…

Meanwhile, the allegedly anti-war French step up their political and military intervention in the Ivory Coast, their former African colony, cajoling the government into sharing power with rebels, while protesters call on the USA to intervene and save their democracy from being ‘assassinated’ by French president Jacques Chirac.

Geeks Without Borders:

“L3 takes place in virtual space, while the Go Game unfolds on actual city streets. But they share a common denominator: the widening of the game environment. Most forms of entertainment are defined by their edges: the outline of the Monopoly board or the dimensions of a movie screen. To enter the world of the game or the story, you enter a confined space, set off from the real world. Play-space doesn’t overlap with ordinary space. But Go and L3 don’t play by those rules. Go colonizes an entire city for its playing field; L3 colonizes the entire Web. These are games without frontiers.” Slate

Mutant gene ‘sparked art and culture’:

‘A tiny mutation in a gene common to mammals may have changed the destiny of humanity. The gene, foxp2 – identified by British researchers two years ago – could have been the switch that lit up art, culture and social behaviour in Homo sapiens 50,000 years ago.

Richard Klein, an anthropologist at Stanford University in California, told the AAAS that early modern humans 100,000 years ago were confined to Africa and seemed no different from their now-extinct cousins Homo neanderthalensis and Homo erectus in Europe and Asia. Then, 50,000 years ago, behaviour altered dramatically: “There was a biological change, a genetic mutation of some kind that promoted the fully modern ability to create and innovate.’ Guardian UK