March 03, 2007
The Surreal World
Certain headlines have caught my eye in the last few days:
Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein - "What began as a routine training exercise almost ended in an embarrassing diplomatic incident after a company of Swiss soldiers got lost at night and marched into neighboring Liechtenstein." Guess the map must have been full of holes.
Geico's Cavemen May Get Own TV Series - "The potential series, one of 14 pilots that will be produced by Touchstone Television this spring, features the cavemen as they 'struggle with prejudice on a daily basis as they strive to live the lives of normal thirty-somethings in 2007 Atlanta.'" I can already see it - the cavemen will be the normal people surrounded by wacky Southerners with thick antebellum or redneck accents. Antics ensue.
February 01, 2007
Why are you being such a hysterical girl? Get over yourself and stop being such an idiot.
May 01, 2006
Paying the Price
The Cost of Gas: Gas prices are up as a reflection of continuing, worsening instability in the Middle East and our foreign relations with oil-producing countries. People hiss "Conspiracy!" and demand relief. But the price of gas indicates that our free market economy works. So if you're a hard-core believer in capitalism, why all the bitching and moaning at the pump? Isn't that what this country is about, for some of us to get as rich as we can and to hell with everyone else?
Mission Accomplished: As for claims of conspiracy, how about an illegitimate war based on the tragedy of 9/11, a war foisted on the American people in order to settle a personal score? We have Saddam, but bin Laden and his followers are still on the loose. Iran and North Korea, known problem states, pursue their goals of nuclear power.
Iraq is in the midst of a civil war - pretending that it isn't doesn't make it so. Iraq has become an excellent training ground for Al Qaeda and other terrorists - because of us. Our invasion, our occupation, our setting loose the religious fundamentalist impulses that were kept under check during the Hussein regime, have made that possible. The United States is not into nation-building, but we believe in liberating people so that they can build their own nation. Whether that's peacefully or through civil war is for them to work out amongst themselves.
Illegal Immigration: On the radio this morning I listened as a DJ complained about his neighborhood La Fonda being closed today to express its support of immigrants who work in this country, legally or not. He warned listeners that some of our favorite eateries could be closed. He felt he was "paying the price" - that is, his neighborhood restaurant being closed - so that illegal immigrants and their supporters could go protest and make their voices known.
We all pay a price. Illegal immigrants depress the price of labor by being willing to work for less money. But their willingness to be paid under the table is what makes many products and services affordable for us.
Illegal immigrants may be illegal, but that doesn't mean they're subhuman. The accident of our birth in this country doesn't give us the right to look down on them, to be sequestered in our comfortable lives and make cheap jokes about rounding people up and shipping them off or shooting them. 'Cause that's soooo funny, right? To mock people who have to escape where they're from in order to make a better life for themselves and their families?
In my family, I am a first-generation American. My parents are immigrants. They came here, legally, for their higher educations. They could have lived decently in Thailand, but they wanted to come to the U.S. for its opportunities and they wanted their children to have good lives here. Their life has not been easy. They have been productive people. They have pursued business opportunities, with some success and some failure. In recent years they have each become a U.S. citizen.
There is no question that people should come to this country legally and take the necessary steps to pursue work and citizenship. But it costs time and money to do that - and if you are poor and jobless and your family can't sponsor you, are you simply supposed to accept that you and your family are doomed to a life of poverty and squalor? You do what you have to in order to survive.
Survival isn't some stupid reality-show concept - it's a condition of life for many, many people in this world.
Immigration reform does not mean just throwing up a fence and paying for a militia to patrol our borders. A guest-worker program is the best viable solution for dealing with the problem. Reform the system that people have to go through so that they don't sneak into this country and work undercover. There should be a penalty for people who come here illegally, but that doesn't mean something draconian. If people are in the system, they can contribute taxes, their children can go to school, they can get medical assistance instead of hoping the illness will just go away. Yes, we have to deal with this issue, as we must deal with many others, but simply because we are better off and comfortably situated - not necessarily rich - our comparatively lofty situation does not give us the right to be smug, clueless, hateful, heartless people.
September 26, 2005
"Hey, uh, try to drive less."
Bush finally has a few words to say about gas conservation: "We can all pitch in by being better conservers of energy."
I am not inspired.
In contrast, consider Jimmy Carter in his speech from April 18, 1977 on promoting a tough energy policy:
Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war" -- except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not destroy.
See also: Carter Tried To Stop Bush's Energy Disasters - 28 Years Ago [Common Dreams, 5/3/05]
September 23, 2005
Gov. Perdue asks schools to close on Mon/Tues
According to the AP wire, the governor has requested that state public schools take "snow days" next week in order to conserve diesel fuel used by school buses. The estimate is that 250,000 gallons a day can be conserved that way.
So what happens when we get to Wednesday?
September 02, 2005
Telling It Like It Is
I'm late to the game, and I'm sure this has spread everywhere, but I'm posting it for my own reference.
I think CNN's Anderson Cooper looks like an exotic bird. Nonetheless he's not just an unusual pretty face. He gives me hope that there are still real journalists out there - check out the transcript of his frank exchange with the Democratic senator from Louisiana, Mary Landrieu. He is civil, but he's not pulling punches. (Anderson, I love you.)
September 01, 2005
Looks like the National Weather Service in New Orleans called it right. Still, the tone of their urgent message (Sunday 8/28/05, 10:11 AM) is so breathless and near-hysterical that it seems like a wordier version of "the sky is falling" - which is what happened, in a way.
July 08, 2005
Just found out
So here I am, blithely recounting my travel adventures. I just found out what happened in London.
I got an email telling me that some London friends were ok, except I didn't know what happened, being on a self-imposed news embargo. So I checked the NYT and now I'm feeling sick.
June 24, 2005
The first story is tragic. The second story makes me really angry.
When I was little we lived in Queens in an apartment next to a old woman who always wore a sour, pinched expression and who often stank of cigarettes. She would bang on the walls when she thought there was too much noise coming from our apartment - which, true, did have three rambunctious little kids. Our mom was good about making us behave. But still the woman would bang the wall, and never acknowledge us if we happened to ride the elevator together. In private we called her the Cockroach Lady.
June 20, 2005
95-year-old dashes to world best: "TOKYO (Reuters) - A 95-year-old Japanese man shattered the 100 meters world record in the 95-99 age group at a seniors athletics meeting Sunday, organizers said."
December 30, 2004
Foreign Aid - It's All How You Measure It
Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy [Order Code 98-916, dated 4/15/04] From a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a division under the Library of Congress:
"The United States is the largest international economic aid donor in dollar terms but is the smallest contributor among major donor governments when calculated as a percent of gross national income."
Are We Stingy? Yes [NYT] If Americans are offended by Jan Egeland's criticism about the West - as in wealthy industrialized nations, not just the United States - that rich nations are "stingy" for not donating even 1% of their GNP for humanitarian/foreign aid purposes, then maybe we should examine why we're so quick to take offense. And hey, let's make a horrific disaster on the other side of the world all about US and OUR hurt feelings. (This calls to mind that scene in Dr. Strangelove when the President calls Russia to explain that a nuclear bomb is accidentally heading to Moscow and the President whines "Well, how do you think I feel?") Good thing individuals are willing to dig in their pockets, because we're not exactly getting a rousing call to action from the Man Who'd Rather Be Clearing Brush than Leading the World By Example. For instance, Amazon's tally of donations to the Red Cross - encouraging people simply by setting up a link - is now at $5,734,758.29, based on 91,095 donations.
Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence [Washington Post] And let's not ignore the opportunity take political cheap shots during times of tragedy. Josh Marshall aptly notes about this same article: "President's latest response to the tsunami tragedy: badmouth Bill Clinton."
December 29, 2004
So my dad's cousin got in touch with his sister. She was away on business in Vietnam and her husband was in their house further inland from the resort. But their family and extended family - many relatives lived and worked at the resort. Some of their bodies have been found, others are still unaccounted for.
I didn't know them. I didn't know all those other people either. Regardless, it's all very sad and tragic, and my heart is heavy for all the families and friends who loved these people. I hope that the world can be generous in helping the survivors.
Red Cross Sets Up FamilyLinks Resource
FamilyLinks (http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/) is a website that has gone live as of today. It's been set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross to serve as a resource for people trying to locate their loved ones in the wake of the tsunami.
December 28, 2004
Some Tsunami Links
TsunamiHelp The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog. "The SEA-EAT blog for short. News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts."
2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake - A Wikipedia entry has been set up. An ever-changing real-time resource.
CNN is posting messages requesting information about missing loved ones. I couldn't read more than a few without my throat becoming thick.
It seems that money is the best assistance for the relief effort. I've decided to give something to Doctors Without Borders. It's a drop in the bucket, but maybe all of our drops in the bucket (wherever we choose to donate) can do something. It's better than sitting here feeling absolutely powerless.