Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh crap #4231: Reverend Wright.

Looks like I was late to the whole nonsense about Reverend Wright talking to the National Press Corps yesterday. Of course Fox News is on this like flies on dogshit, and they will whip and flay away on this until we can see the bones on the dead horse.

A more talented and thoughtful writer, Andrew Sullivan, talks about hereand has some good perspective here.

Finally: Wow. This is true disloyalty at it core- the willingness to destroy not only a friend, but his potential and possibility in doing something great and good.

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One day of sun

Monday had sunshine and breezes, which was rather nice, and I walked around for a bit. There are still blossoms on trees, and now trees are going into full leaf, which is lovely. Even the temperature was bearable- in the 60s!

But now today will be a return the rains. Ugh. I feel like I am on some planet, where the cycles call for just one day of sun per every 21 days of pure cold rain.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

On the Sean Bell case

So, on Friday there was the Sean Bell case in New York City, where the policemen who shot at him -over 50 times, with no gun found near the scene- whee let go. The prosecutor's case was piss poor- after all, would such prosecutors want to do a great job of going after allies?- and the Justice really didn't give a right royal damn, citing demeanor (!) of witnesses and justifying fear of dark skinned people doing anything late at night, even if they are sitting in car at a strip club.

Now, two of the police officers were African American/ Latino, and so there is plenty of pundits who say "But see, that's not racist, then!"

Well, no- it's sad ingrained racialism, and I wrote about it before in a couple of postings a few weeks back- combined with gun fueled hysteria and sheer disrespect for life. And the sad thing about ingrained racialism/racism and disrespect for the life of others is that it does spread to EVERYONE. It happens here as well.

There are those pleading for calm. To which I would ask, why? Why must there be a plea for calm when a young man and his pals are shot at 50 times, and a learned judge thinks that's okay? Don't be calm. I don't care where in the color spectrum you are in, but imagine if that was your son, or brother, out for a stag night before his wedding.

Maybe this is the thinking this country needs: What if that was your brother, would that be okay?

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Friday, April 25, 2008


I am UNEMPLOYED! Yay! Drinks all aroundI will need a transition job between now and August but hooray! so visits to the temp agencies are in order, because Unemployment is the suck when you like having wine and going to concerts.

And the sun came out today!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Back to the cold and dreary

So, back from HawaiĆ­, and back to Oregon, which is cold and dreary. On the plne, the pilot annouced the wather as we were coming in "With light NW winds and 43 degrees" and the whole plane groaned with soul deep pain.

It was 85 and partly sunny, the whole five days I was there. *weeps*

That's a 40 degree difference. And I heard it snowed. Yikes!

I will put up a travelogue little later this week- with pictures ( not nearly enough, however!)of Oahu and impressions.

And finally, finally, finally the Pennsylvania primary came- and Hillary CLinton won! Yay! Good on her! With a ten point lead. Which means she will pick up a total of six count'em six delegates!

The mainstream media will trumpet about how this is a major victory for Hillary, just like they did in Texas. Where Obama wound up taking a majority of delegates. Even though Hillary won. Again, yikes!

Oh, and by the way Hawaiians are so Pro Obama it is not even funny. I was wearing an official Obama t- shirt and people bought me drinks and gave me hugs. The newspapers don't even try to hide their bias at all. Hee!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hawaii Trip-Huzzah

The displaced Brooklynite will be taking a break from cold, rainy Oregon and going to Oahu, Hawaii! Huzzah! I will be updating with views of and from Hawaii!


Monday, April 14, 2008

Don't blame it on Rio

Today, I went to Barnes and Nobles after meeting with friends at Starbucks. Ordinarily, I get a couple of magazines ( my true vice!) and maybe a paperback book. But today, I read a book entitled "Don't blame it on Rio". It is about the phenomena of African American men traveling on sex tourism tours, particular to Brazil.

Now, to this Caribbeans immigrants daughter, sex tourism is nothing new. I saw that all the time in Panama, the few times I visited, and I have read about the sex trade developing now in Cuba ( shame, shame, shame on Castro for allowing this, shame along with all his other crimes). Other islands in Caribbean had had the same, and am certain that Brazil has always had sex tourism of some sort.

Usually, with sex tourism, you envision some pale, sweaty German, traveling on his state pension and state guaranteed vacation, chatting up some underfed, far too young girl. Me and Panamanian friends would laugh behind our hands at such a sight, and hope that the girl was at least getting some rent and nice clothes out of the deal.

How strange, that it is not so funny when it comes to African American men. "Don't blame it on Rio" have the responses of these men who actively choose sex tourism over developing a relationship with other African american women ( or other american women, period). All the usual complaints these men have with African american women: Not submissive, too loud, too angry, too big, too educated, too materialistic, not supportive enough, not good looking enough, simply not good enough for a African american man who has choices.

A choice, then, is Brazilian women. The men who talk about Brazilian women rhapsodise about them as if they were the Circassian Beauties of old: beautiful, sexually available, submissive- the ideal women. With these women, you do whatever you want, whenever you want, and they are all beautiful to their eyes. There is quite pornographic descriptions of what these men experience with these women- be warned!- it is central to the thesis of the book and how these men experience relationships.

Basically, these women are not Brazilian doctors, lawyers, farm managers, scientists, engineers, writers, nurses, call center managers or even store owners. They are at worst prostitutes, at best kept mistresses. They understand, from the time that they are little girls, that their body and face is their fortune, not their minds nor their souls. Many of these women who allow defiling sexual acts to be done to their precious bodies do so to support a family, perhaps even a brother or sister who is at school. These women understand it is a business, and never mind whether it is a sweaty fat German train operator or African American businessman- there is money to be made, and so if the man idolises you, then so what? Then there is more to be made.

What is interesting in the descriptions these men give of Latin Countries demonstrate the true lack of knowledge about how these countries and societies work. Many of the men think that because these women go the distance sexually, then it is really true that Brazilian women are more free and natural with their sexuality. That shows a very basic misunderstanding of how Catholics, and Carribean people in general view the realm of the body, and it can be used. Brazilians, and Caribbean people in general, are no more freer with their bodies than anybody else- unless they are prostitutes or people who used them (the number one way HIV is transmitted in Brazil, BTW). Catholicism allows for human frailty and the need for spiritual uplift but also an understanding and framework to how to conduct one's life. It allows for forgiveness of sin and understanding of circumstances. And with the indigenous West African belief of the tripartite being and the hardship of slavery, what is done to flesh can never soil the spirit.

But with all this sex talk, the men don't speak a speck of Portuguese. Of course not- then they would discover that Brazilian women have complaints, and worries and anxieties. These women wonder about the stars, and about the future. They have soul, and they are seling their bodies to some accountant from Raleigh, North Carolina who wants her because she bears a passing resemblance to Halle Berry.

The books ends on an optismistic note. I don't think the authors where out to punish these guys but ask them to see the sad cruelty of their behaviour and a turn for the better.

I don't know. For many of these African American men, who smart enough and hard working enough to go to college, they want the whole colonialist package served to them-the submissive little woman, always attractive and sexually available with hot dinner on the table. Except that time passed, if it ever really existed, at least 40 years ago. And a woman who has money in her hand, and it was earned, truly earned, and not inherited or gotten by laying on her back, will never need to be submissive. She is a partner, an ally, a lover. That is more powerful and more beautiful, I think. Such a person can truly support a man and help build a beautiful life with. Strength and unity wihout exploitation and domination.

But a man who has a need to dominate, to be part of an hierarchal structure that is imposed from without and with no consequence is a deeply lonely and ultimately unloved creature

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Cheap Food- but for whom?

There has been a lot of grumbling from many about the rising costs of commodities, particularly food commodities, like wheat, corn and rice. My homeboy Paul Krugman talks about this in a article today in the New York Times today. Check it out.

There are several questions that come up as a result of this article. Firstly- why are other countries so dependent of food imports? Should these countries be dependent on basic food imports? One could say that the answer is that these countries simply are. But in today's such as answer is not sufficient enough.

Krugman, and others, have made the assertion that farming is a decreasing and dying occupation. But this sort of crisis proves that assertion to not be true. Apparently, there is a desperate need for farmers and the attendant jobs that go with them- limnologists, soil scientists and animal health practitioners, amongst others. If this sort of forecasting is an example of progressive macroeconomics, then there should be a shift in what there conventional wisdom is.

The second set of question is why are we, as modern humans, so dependent on such a small set of basics for our daily bread ( or bowl)? Rice is the king grain; nearly 3 billion people depend on rice. Yet , there are only few varieties of rice grown, all dependent on the paddy system (not all rice needs to grown in a paddy system.) Potatoes, an excellent crop, is used mostly to make added value items like fried chips and frozen preprartions. Corn, the mother grain, is turned into high fructose corn syrup (a preservative) oil ( for cooking) and now possibly it can also be turn into a oil/alcohol combination that would be great for biofuel. Wheat is used for breads and pastas. And there you have it- our basic grains.

Now think of all the different grains, grasses and root vegetable sa that are available, and have been available for thousands of years. Having these basic grains do streamline production and usage on farming lands- but it is at the expense of possible food crunches, such as we are going through now. Again, I think that conventional thinking is going to need to change when it comes to the production of food. In addition to having more producers, we need more diversity in what in produced, espeically for calorie dense basics.

The third set of questions relate to the first: Krugman make the point that "You might put it this way: people are starving in Africa so that American politicians can court votes in farm states."

That a cheap and ill informed swipe- surprising, really, when you condider Krugman is a learned professor. The question should be : why are people starving in Africa? And since Africa is not a country, but a continent, we must ask ourselves where in Africa are people starving? It's not in the wealthy, diverse and surprisingly stable (if corrupt) Northwest Africa ( Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal Cote Ivoire et al). Not in stable Botswana, South Africa or Lesotho. But in unstable, dry East Africa, there are tons of food problems. Only part of deals with weather ( and as shitty as it sounds, East Africans have dealt with drought for millenia) Much of still stems from intercene warfare and and from horrid Marxist inflected economics of Ethiopia's revolution in the 70's. Somalia's failed state helps in starving people; so does lack of agriculture education and funding that was denied Eastern Africa by its leaders and by western policies that needed a foreign market for surplus grain basics- the surplus that is now mourned by Mr. Krugman.

Just something to think about as you have your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Waste of a day: Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker

My friend C had wanted t go check out a new ( to us) clothing line called Bitten. the spokeperson/designer is Sarah Jessica Parker, best know for her role in "Sex and the City".

Now, that seems so weird to me. I always thought of "Sex and the City" as more of modern day cautionary tales that may have been written by Edith Wharton, had she lived now. SJP's Carrie character gives away her financial future in the pursuit of glamour and fashion. Her artistic writing voice muses on modern day manners but does not develop depth, forcing her to write bylines just to keep maintenance on her apartment. And in a very real way she becomes provincial, not travelling out of New York nor having any sense of the world beyond her. As fun as the show was, it seemed like a real warning to women- be truly fabulous, but beware of the glamour!

So, it seems odd that SJP would take the pursuit of glamour part and turn that into a second career. No matter- her signature is lovely, and so I was expecting the clothes to be too.

The clothes are part of small offering at a line of stores called Steve and Barry's - where the clothes are mostly under $10 dollars. The dresses are the best bets- well sewn and strongly constructed,good colors with natural materials. The party shoes are great for clubbing- you won't feel guilty breaking a heel. The jeans were hard and cut to the narrow, with seaming that felt rough.

None, save a summer dress, were really tomy liking. If I was, say, a little younger, it still would not be to my liking- but it does appeal to many, and would be great for partying.

It was a waste of a day, which was rainy, rainy, rainy and which the shops offered refuge. Glamour can't hide the fact that after shopping, the rain remains.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

First Waves are always the hardest

so, we had our first wave of layoffs today. I should write something profound and full of meaning. But really, why do that?

There is nothing profound about being laid off. There is nothing meanful, or good, or true about being told you are being let go due to that fact the company needs to save money. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

The whole thing of company loyalty, of working for a company for decades-always punctured with closing and recessions and depressions. How shallow our memories are, how stupid we have become to trust companies over our own good communities and senses of self.

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