Monuments to the Worst in Humanity

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dulcinea
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Monuments to the Worst in Humanity

Post by dulcinea » Fri May 12, 2006 10:34 pm

Later this month, the Pope will visit the hometown of John Paul II, and then totally ruin the good feelings inspired by that pilgrimage by visiting the Auschwitz-Oswiecim death camp. Why haven't the death camps been demolished? We Puerto Ricans had nothing to do with the Shoah, and cannot understand the obsession with these camps, which can only be described as a particularly disgusting example of ghoulishness and morbidity.
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Re: Monuments to the Worst in Humanity

Post by Ralph » Fri May 12, 2006 11:03 pm

dulcinea wrote:Later this month, the Pope will visit the hometown of John Paul II, and then totally ruin the good feelings inspired by that pilgrimage by visiting the Auschwitz-Oswiecim death camp. Why haven't the death camps been demolished? We Puerto Ricans had nothing to do with the Shoah, and cannot understand the obsession with these camps, which can only be described as a particularly disgusting example of ghoulishness and morbidity.
*****

I speak only for myself. Family I never knew were murdered at Auschwitz and other camps. They are a symbol and a monument and they make forgetting difficult. They are a real physical reminder of what happened, not simply pages in a book, documents that have survived or museum exhibits of genocide.

The Pope's visit is a good thing, especially since the role of Catholic clergy and Pope Pius XII himself remains a controversy and at the least reflects an ignoble and inadequate response of a great religion to events that should have been fiercely denounced.

I do not think many are obsessed with the camps. To retain them is not to feed obsession but to witness history.
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Post by BWV 1080 » Fri May 12, 2006 11:50 pm

We need monuments to the worst in humanity, lest anyone forget what we are capable of

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Post by jbuck919 » Sat May 13, 2006 12:16 am

All I can say is that I visited my first camp several weekends ago with a colleague. It was Flossenbuerg, not a famous one in the English speaking world but a death camp complete with crematorium; a camp for dissidents; the camp in fact where Dietrich Bonhoeffer and 30,000 others died. As the liberating army approached, the Germans took the survivors (up to that point) on a death march to nowhere, simply burying the bodies in odd spots as they went along. Later as many as possible of these bodies were dug up and re-interred on the grounds of the camp. Usually, they could identify the corpse, so the grave markers have names. That was not true for the thousands whose ashes were poured into a central location that is now a grass-covered mound call the Pyramid of Ashes.

I could go on and on, and this was not Buchenwald or Dachau, both of which are also within easy traveling distance, and I suppose I must see them.

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Post by lmpower » Sat May 13, 2006 9:36 am

A holocaust denier is now running for Attorney General of Alabama. We need to preserve evidence and reminders of what happened. I don't feel ghoulish. We just need to face the dark side of life in a realistic manner.

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Post by Werner » Sat May 13, 2006 10:14 am

The answer to Dulcinea is her own post. There are still those - sanctimonious but most likely well-intentioned, who are distant - culturally, historically or personally - from these events. Human nature being what it is, it is not impossible for events such as the Holocaust to occur in other settings - as most recently in Darfur, Rwanda, and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

The Holocaust remains the largest and most gruesome instance, and as far as I know the most eloquently documented. Reason enough to remember it as an exemplar to all humanity of what humanity should never again descend to.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat May 13, 2006 2:44 pm

BWV 1080 wrote:We need monuments to the worst in humanity, lest anyone forget what we are capable of
If it were any use in preventing repeats, I'd agree. I'm not arguing for the destruction of the places, but what they are today mostly are monuments to naivete of the people who thought they would effectively shame humanity into better behavior.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat May 13, 2006 2:51 pm

jbuck919 wrote:this was not Buchenwald or Dachau, both of which are also within easy traveling distance, and I suppose I must see them.
I was chastised not too long ago by my Jewish baseball buddy for feeling sorry for Dachau the Town. There's a poignant sign at the tram station, asking visitors not to judge the long artists-colony history (since the middle ages) by the nightmare of the 3rd Reich. Dachau was originally a camp for the artists, writers, poets, and thinkers who opposed Hitler. Only later did it become a camp for Jews as well. It was almost like Hitler's scheme was to make Dachau the killing ground for precisely the kinds of people who had been attracted to Dachau for centuries on the theory that once it was known what had happen there, they would never congragate there again. Kinda like animals knowing when large numbers of their kind have been killed in an area and they avoid it permanently.
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Post by dulcinea » Sat May 13, 2006 4:15 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:We need monuments to the worst in humanity, lest anyone forget what we are capable of
If it were any use in preventing repeats, I'd agree. I'm not arguing for the destruction of the places, but what they are today mostly are monuments to naivete of the people who thought they would effectively shame humanity into better behavior.
When I was born in 1954, the world was still full of people who had witnessed WWII. Sixty-one years later, most of those people have died, and been replaced by miscreants such as Hamas and the gangsters of Iran and Al-Qaeda, who make no effort whatsoever to disguise their ultimate goal of finishing what Hitler started. The value of these monuments to iniquity as guarantors against future similar wickedness is clearly much overrated.
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Post by Werner » Sat May 13, 2006 4:38 pm

There are no guarantees, Dulcinea. That's not the purpose of maintaining the reminders of the Holocaust. For one thing, it's a memorial to the victims - and for another, it's an indication that it can happen again - you've mentioned Hamas and Al Qaeda, and there are others - past, present, and future. Sweeping the past under the rug will do nothing for a world freed from genocide. And there are still memories alive of those days. You may get a better understanding by reading some of the many books written by people who suffered through that experience.
Last edited by Werner on Sat May 13, 2006 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat May 13, 2006 4:41 pm

Werner wrote:Sweeping the past under the rug will do nothing to protect the future.
That presupposes that the monuments do anything to protect the future. I'll settle for memorial to the dead.
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Post by Ralph » Sat May 13, 2006 5:20 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:We need monuments to the worst in humanity, lest anyone forget what we are capable of
If it were any use in preventing repeats, I'd agree. I'm not arguing for the destruction of the places, but what they are today mostly are monuments to naivete of the people who thought they would effectively shame humanity into better behavior.
*****

If they make people trhink about what they can do to prevent bias and bigotry and understand how easy it is to elide from noninvolved acceptance of discrimination to support of genocide, that's enough.
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Post by Ralph » Sat May 13, 2006 5:22 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:this was not Buchenwald or Dachau, both of which are also within easy traveling distance, and I suppose I must see them.
I was chastised not too long ago by my Jewish baseball buddy for feeling sorry for Dachau the Town. There's a poignant sign at the tram station, asking visitors not to judge the long artists-colony history (since the middle ages) by the nightmare of the 3rd Reich. Dachau was originally a camp for the artists, writers, poets, and thinkers who opposed Hitler. Only later did it become a camp for Jews as well. It was almost like Hitler's scheme was to make Dachau the killing ground for precisely the kinds of people who had been attracted to Dachau for centuries on the theory that once it was known what had happen there, they would never congragate there again. Kinda like animals knowing when large numbers of their kind have been killed in an area and they avoid it permanently.
*****

I don't think visitors to Dachau today associate people born right before, during or after the war with the murders committed there. Remember, Germans of that Nazi era are dying as fast as our veterans.
Last edited by Ralph on Sun May 14, 2006 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 12:39 am

The thought crossed my mind that some people might not know that every concentration camp site has been severely compromised as a "monument." Most of the original buildings were long ago torn down, many immediately upon the liberation. Half of Flossenbuerg was sold to a real estate developer who built rather nice houses overlooking the Valley of Death. The problem is not that they (we) are memorializing an unspeakable episode of barbarity. The problem is that they (we) cannot sufficiently do so.

BTW at Flossenbuerg there is a chapel, a post-construction of course, a full-blown Catholic church, actually, where the windows and wall postings memorialize the nations that gave sons and daughters to the slaughter at that site. There were many thousands of Poles, Germans, Austrians, Ukrainians, and so forth... and two Britons.

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Post by Teresa B » Sun May 14, 2006 10:32 am

dulcinea wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
BWV 1080 wrote:We need monuments to the worst in humanity, lest anyone forget what we are capable of
If it were any use in preventing repeats, I'd agree. I'm not arguing for the destruction of the places, but what they are today mostly are monuments to naivete of the people who thought they would effectively shame humanity into better behavior.
When I was born in 1954, the world was still full of people who had witnessed WWII. Sixty-one years later, most of those people have died, and been replaced by miscreants such as Hamas and the gangsters of Iran and Al-Qaeda, who make no effort whatsoever to disguise their ultimate goal of finishing what Hitler started. The value of these monuments to iniquity as guarantors against future similar wickedness is clearly much overrated.
I don't know if monuments will help prevent horrors from being perpetrated in the future, and I may be one of the naive, but I (who have never been to one of the concentration camp sites) did visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C. I had no close relatives that died in camps, but I found myself weeping by the time I stepped out of the museum back into the sunshine. If such a monument does nothing else, it is a hard-hitting reminder to us "normal" people that tragedy of huge magnitudes keep happening due to human xenophobia and hate.

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 12:17 pm

Teresa B wrote:
I don't know if monuments will help prevent horrors from being perpetrated in the future, and I may be one of the naive, but I (who have never been to one of the concentration camp sites) did visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C. I had no close relatives that died in camps, but I found myself weeping by the time I stepped out of the museum back into the sunshine. If such a monument does nothing else, it is a hard-hitting reminder to us "normal" people that tragedy of huge magnitudes keep happening due to human xenophobia and hate.

Teresa
I've been to the Holocaust Museum several times (field trip chaperone, don't you know) and absolutely hated it every time, because to me it is like walking through an encyclopedia article rather than experiencing anything. They don't really have much there in the way of real (meaning gruesome) artifacts, nor should they be expected to have. I mean things like piles of gold fillings from prisoners' teeth, lampshades made from human skin, etc. Incidentally, the new Museum of the American Indian gives Washington the distinction of being the only city in the world with two museums to genocide.

If it were not so grim a topic, Teresa, I would make some kind of joke about thinking about you when I visit Theresienstadt. In fact, I almost did. Not up to such bad taste today, alas.

John

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Post by Donald Isler » Sun May 14, 2006 12:52 pm

I think it's subjective as to what constitutes a real, or gruesome artifact. My uncle saw one of the carts from Theresienstadt that was used to carry bodies, and wondered if his grandmother's body had been one of them.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 1:27 pm

Donald Isler wrote:I think it's subjective as to what constitutes a real, or gruesome artifact. My uncle saw one of the carts from Theresienstadt that was used to carry bodies, and wondered if his grandmother's body had been one of them.
I can't, nor do I wish to, trump that.

Anyone here know Martin Goldsmith, the NPR classical show host? Donald, I would not be surprised if you know him personally. Maybe ten years ago, he was interviewed by one of the other NPR guys, I want to say Scott Simon, and (I assume this was not staged) mentioned offhandedly that his grandfather and uncle had been passengers on the St. Louis. Simon, shocked, had Goldsmith divulge the details. Without batting a (radio) eye, Goldsmith went on to relate how when the St. Louis was forced to return to Europe, his grandfater and uncle settled in France, but not for long. They were shortly rounded up and sent to, not "one of those other camps," but straight to Auschwitz, where of course they met their death.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 14, 2006 1:46 pm

Teresa B wrote:I (who have never been to one of the concentration camp sites) did visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C. I had no close relatives that died in camps, but I found myself weeping by the time I stepped out of the museum back into the sunshine.
I did the same at Dachau - it's hard not to. I haven't been to the Holocaust Museum, nor will I ever go. Dachau was enough for me.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 14, 2006 1:48 pm

jbuck919 wrote:Incidentally, the new Museum of the American Indian gives Washington the distinction of being the only city in the world with two museums to genocide.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I'm sure the Indians think of it just that way, instead of the aggressive diversity nonsense it is. Pretty soon there won't be a blade of grass on the mall for every goddam cause that has to be celebrated with an idiotic museum on the mall. Better they should bring back the Tempos.
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 1:55 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:Incidentally, the new Museum of the American Indian gives Washington the distinction of being the only city in the world with two museums to genocide.
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I'm sure the Indians think of it just that way, instead of the aggressive diversity nonsense it is. Pretty soon there won't be a blade of grass on the mall for every goddam cause that has to be celebrated with an idiotic museum on the mall. Better they should bring back the Tempos.
I want to see the Indian museum before passing judgment, and it falls right into the middle of my being eight weeks back in the States but can I manage the usual trip "down there?"

But if you want to get me started, the memorial I have taken the liberty to pre-judge is the WW II memorial, which I suppose I must also see before finalizing my opinion, but talk about taking up nice jogging space....

(People who have never been to the area need to understand that the greatest war there ever could be was already more than adequately memorialized in separate monuments in and around Washington.)

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 14, 2006 2:01 pm

jbuck919 wrote:I want to see the Indian museum before passing judgment,
Oh, don't go. It only encourages the morons who listen to every whiny constituency that says it don't have props if it don't have a museum on the mall.
can I manage the usual trip "down there?"
I thought you rejected the idea of a trip to Md. Does this mean your mom is better?
But if you want to get me started, the memorial I have taken the liberty to pre-judge is the WW II memorial, which I suppose I must also see before, but talk about taking up nice jogging space....
No kidding! I was against them all, including the Viet Nam memorial that started all this insanity. Every little town that lost someone in the Big One has a monument to their dead. That was the real tribute to sons and daughters from people who knew them. The WW2 and Korean and Viet Nam monuments in just scream: "Look at us activists and how powerful we were!"
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Post by Donald Isler » Sun May 14, 2006 2:22 pm

No, John, I don't know Goldsmith personally though he must be a very interesting person, and I read his book about his family history. I hope that people who read about the St. Louis know the story; that because the United States didn't let those people into our country they were returned to Europe, where most of them died in concentration camps.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 14, 2006 2:26 pm

Donald Isler wrote:No, John, I don't know Goldsmith personally though he must be a very interesting person, and I read his book about his family history. I hope that people who read about the St. Louis know the story; that because the United States didn't let those people into our country they were returned to Europe, where most of them died in concentration camps.
Isn't that the one where the fatuous DAR testified that all of the people on the boat were communists, even the children, and a threat to the nation?
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Post by Donald Isler » Sun May 14, 2006 2:28 pm

By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: May 14, 2006
A. M. Rosenthal, the former New York Times executive editor, died last week at the age of 84. He first gained prominence as a foreign correspondent. This article, about his visit to Auschwitz, was published in The Times Magazine on Aug. 31, 1958.

BRZEZINKA, Poland

THE most terrible thing of all, somehow, was that at Brzezinka the sun was bright and warm, the rows of graceful poplars were lovely to look upon and on the grass near the gates children played.

It all seemed frighteningly wrong, as in a nightmare, that at Brzezinka the sun should ever shine or that there should be light and greenness and the sound of young laughter. It would be fitting if at Brzezinka the sun never shone and the grass withered, because this is a place of unutterable terror.

And yet, every day, from all over the world, people come to Brzezinka, quite possibly the most grisly tourist center on earth. They come for a variety of reasons — to see if it could really have been true, to remind themselves not to forget, to pay homage to the dead by the simple act of looking upon their place of suffering.

Brzezinka is a couple of miles from the better-known southern Polish town of Oswiecim. Oswiecim has about 12,000 inhabitants, is situated about 171 miles from Warsaw and lies in a damp, marshy area at the eastern end of the pass called the Moravian Gate. Brzezinka and Oswiecim together formed part of that minutely organized factory of torture and death that the Nazis called Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.

By now, 14 years after the last batch of prisoners was herded naked into the gas chambers by dogs and guards, the story of Auschwitz has been told a great many times. Some of the inmates have written of those memories of which sane men cannot conceive. Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoss, the superintendent of the camp, before he was executed wrote his detailed memoirs of mass exterminations and the experiments on living bodies. Four million people died here, the Poles say.

And so there is no news to report about Auschwitz. There is merely the compulsion to write something about it, a compulsion that grows out of a restless feeling that to have visited Auschwitz and then turned away without having said or written anything would somehow be a most grievous act of discourtesy to those who died here.

Brzezinka and Oswiecim are very quiet places now; the screams can no longer be heard. The tourist walks silently, quickly at first to get it over with and then, as his mind peoples the barracks and the chambers and the dungeons and flogging posts, he walks draggingly. The guide does not say much either, because there is nothing much for him to say after he has pointed.

For every visitor, there is one particular bit of horror that he knows he will never forget. For some it is seeing the rebuilt gas chamber at Oswiecim and being told that this is the "small one." For others it is the fact that at Brzezinka, in the ruins of the gas chambers and the crematoria the Germans blew up when they retreated, there are daisies growing.

There are visitors who gaze blankly at the gas chambers and the furnaces because their minds simply cannot encompass them, but stand shivering before the great mounds of human hair behind the plate glass window or the piles of babies' shoes or the brick cells where men sentenced to death by suffocation were walled up.

One visitor opened his mouth in a silent scream simply at the sight of boxes — great stretches of three-tiered wooden boxes in the women's barracks. They were about six feet wide, about three feet high, and into them from 5 to 10 prisoners were shoved for the night. The guide walks quickly through the barracks. Nothing more to see here.

A brick building where sterilization experiments were carried out on women prisoners. The guide tries the door — it's locked. The visitor is grateful that he does not have to go in, and then flushes with shame.

A long corridor where rows of faces stare from the walls. Thousands of pictures, the photographs of prisoners. They are all dead now, the men and women who stood before the cameras, and they all knew they were to die.

They all stare blank-faced, but one picture, in the middle of a row, seizes the eye and wrenches the mind. A girl, 22 years old, plumply pretty, blonde. She is smiling gently, as at a sweet, treasured thought. What was the thought that passed through her young mind and is now her memorial on the wall of the dead at Auschwitz?

Into the suffocation dungeons the visitor is taken for a moment and feels himself strangling. Another visitor goes in, stumbles out and crosses herself. There is no place to pray at Auschwitz.

The visitors look pleadingly at each other and say to the guide, "Enough."

There is nothing new to report about Auschwitz. It was a sunny day and the trees were green and at the gates the children played.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times
Donald Isler

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun May 14, 2006 2:33 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:I want to see the Indian museum before passing judgment,
Oh, don't go. It only encourages the morons who listen to every whiny constituency that says it don't have props if it don't have a museum on the mall.
Well, the idea behind that museum was that there was no worthwhile place to display countless artifacts that were stored, basically, in an attic in New York. I don't object to it as an anthropoloigical or historical museum. The execution is what would be in question. In some respects, it should be one of the most splendid museums in the world. I do think I have to find this one out for myself.
can I manage the usual trip "down there?"

No, I will probably have to do this according to plan A. Blood is after all thicker than water. But you understand, I'm sure, that when it comes to a quarter of a century, half of one's life, one does not easily forsake a great geography. When you are talkiing about the greater area of the capital of a nation like the United States, it goes double. There are many people I have e-mailed to ask their indulgence and continued frienship.

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Post by Ralph » Sun May 14, 2006 7:53 pm

Donald Isler wrote:I think it's subjective as to what constitutes a real, or gruesome artifact. My uncle saw one of the carts from Theresienstadt that was used to carry bodies, and wondered if his grandmother's body had been one of them.
*****

Definitely. Seeing a mundane object belonging to a victim murdered in a death camp can be as moving as an implement of homicide on display.
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Post by Enriqueelm » Mon May 15, 2006 12:52 am

I was at a cocktail party a few years ago where a well known social figure was pontificating on the movie Schindler's List and how "tired" she was of all the attention paid to the Holocaust. She went on to say that most of it was Jewish propagated myths to begin with.

It is for idiots like these that these monuments exist.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 12:59 am

Enriqueelm wrote:I was at a cocktail party a few years ago where a well known social figure was pontificating on the movie Schindler's List and how "tired" she was of all the attention paid to the Holocaust. She went on to say that most of it was Jewish propagated myths to begin with.

It is for idiots like these that these monuments exist.
Hey, Enrique! Welcome to the board. Kick your shoes off and set a spell.

People like her don't go to monuments like the Holocaust Museum. Might as well try to get the Grand Dragon to go.
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Post by Enriqueelm » Mon May 15, 2006 1:26 am

Hello Corlyss from the great state of Utah and the home of the Jazz (my ex favourite NBA team).

Thanks for the warm welcome. Can not "kick off" my shoes as am at "work" at the moment (04:20PM here in Sydney). Will do that when I get home around six this evening.

Cheers,

Rick
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Post by Teresa B » Mon May 15, 2006 6:21 am

jbuck919 wrote: I've been to the Holocaust Museum several times (field trip chaperone, don't you know) and absolutely hated it every time, because to me it is like walking through an encyclopedia article rather than experiencing anything. They don't really have much there in the way of real (meaning gruesome) artifacts, nor should they be expected to have. I mean things like piles of gold fillings from prisoners' teeth, lampshades made from human skin, etc. Incidentally, the new Museum of the American Indian gives Washington the distinction of being the only city in the world with two museums to genocide.

If it were not so grim a topic, Teresa, I would make some kind of joke about thinking about you when I visit Theresienstadt. In fact, I almost did. Not up to such bad taste today, alas.

John
Well, thank goodness I spell my name differently. In any case, I suppose some people have lower emotional thresholds than others--I was moved by the displays in the museum.

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

Author of the novel "Creating Will"

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon May 15, 2006 11:04 am

Enriqueelm wrote:Hello Corlyss from the great state of Utah and the home of the Jazz (my ex favourite NBA team).
Who's won your heart these days? The Jazz have been playing like Washington DC teams do.
Can not "kick off" my shoes as am at "work" at the moment (04:20PM here in Sydney).


:( I did it all the time when I worked. It's how I got my nickname "Contessa."
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Enriqueelm
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Post by Enriqueelm » Mon May 15, 2006 10:55 pm

I liked the Jazz in the West and the Knicks in the East. Unfortunately, over the last few years, since the departure of Malone/Stockton the Jazz have not been doing anything worth mentioning and the Knicks...well enough said.

These days I like the Mavs and the Pacers. Always liked them anyway. The Pacers specially when they had Reggie "Ferengi" Miller (didn't he look like one?). Being a Sydneysider means I don't need to be parochial and can pick on the basis of what takes my fancy.

Looks like a tight race this year with the Pistons, Heat, Spurs and Mavs all in with a chance.

Good to see though teams like the Clippers making it to the playoffs.

Cheers,

Rick
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Aldous Huxley

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