Saturday, May 31, 2008
In the midst of Llama brains and chiles, he devoted a few minutes of video to Bolivia's fighting cholitas - a new brand of indigenous, female wrestler that is taking the country by storm. That's right, local ladies in their big skirts, colorful peasant blouses and hats in the ring executing throws and full-body slams. Awesome. Lucha Libre for the masses. The story hit the BBC today. Check out their vid here. These women are way serious, as are the crowds who cheer them on. Male wrestlers often "open" for the much more popular ladies. Just to be clear, we're not talking about spandex body suits and cleavage here. No, these women compete in their full Andean indiginous attire - which makes the spectacle even more unusual. Check it out for yourself.
Friday, May 30, 2008
The Chinese suffered perhaps the largest disaster of all, an earthquake so large entire villages and valleys disappeared. Though many questions around the construction standards and inspections of public schools, the response of the Chinese government to the disaster has been exemplary. That's what the International Red Cross said, and I agree. Read more here. Resources were dispatched along with all available military personnel and hardware to rescue the trapped. Medicines arrived in short order and those who were injured were tended to by armies of medical professionals. The UN was impressed.
It is important to remember that over one-third of Chinese families have only one child. So many parents lost their only children to the quake. Chinese families rely on their children for support in their old age. Officials promptly relaxed population controls and set-up adoption centers for surviving orphans. Through the entire process, the face of China's leader, Grandfather Wen, was ubiquitous. He was everywhere, offering his sympathy and reassurances; while raising hopes and spirits. Brownie and Bush, take a lesson.
I have posted before about the difficult and painful situation in Tibet during China's Olympic year. It remains my sincere hope that current talks between Chinese authorities and representatives of the Tibetan government in exile will arrive at a consensus compromise agreement that allows the people of the autonomous region to freely practice their religion and perserve their culture. That said, the Chinese people are justifiably proud of the massive, coordinated and largely effective response of their government to disaster.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
It should be noted that this is the same king that immediately gave women the right to vote and released all political prisoners as soon as he was coronated. Sounds like an agent of change.
The Author is prone to optimism, despite countless angry rants against the system and our recent decline. This is encouraging for Middle Eastern politics, for women's rights and for a sensible approach to integrating minorities into the fabric of every aspect of life, politics and diplomacy. Now let's all hope she sets a better example than Condi Rice, whom history will record as a stunning failure and utter disappointment.
The point of these "netbooks" is that bloatware and on-board megastorage may soon be a thing of the past for mobile warriors. Google and others are busy tearing down the Microsoft fortress by migrating powerful apps and giga-storage to the net where they belong. Unless one is a mad gamer, or video editor, these mini-notebooks are all that is necessary to get a sh*tload of work done from just about any location with a signal. A powerful but tiny PC just in time for my tiny tax rebate check from the government.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
While it is true that this number is small compared to the suffering of the Jews, it is important to remember and memorialize all the victims of Nazi persecution. The Author was gratified to read about the new memorial. The story doesn't end there, however. Victims also include half-a-million Gypsies (source), almost the entire population of occupied Eastern Europe; as well as countless disabled and developmentally disabled individuals.
Sadly, Gypsies - or Rom as they preferred to be called - are still being persecuted in large swathes of Europe. Many have heard of the Slovak hatred for the Rom (source), but Italy has recently experienced a variety of what appear to be officially-sanctioned pogroms directed against Gypsy settlements. Read this alarming article for background. The far-Right government of Silvio Berlusconi, with established Fascist roots, appears to be stoking the flames of ethnic hatred. The lesson? Facists will be Facists.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
No seriously, the Japanese have more robots at work than any other developed country. It has even been reported that the Japanese prefer the company of robots to foreigners. I guess that's understandable in a country were the same word is used for "foreign" and for "wrong."
Monday, May 26, 2008
One might observe that it's about time. A more realistic appraisal is that it may be too late.
Recent revelations about the Pentagon's main-stream media propaganda machine that placed retired generals on newscasts as expert commentators, armed with approved talking points, make very clear the depth of involvement of the US military in shaping political opinion and influencing policy. Legislators and informed citizens are appalled as the integrity and political neutrality of the military are at stake. A big deal, as recent events in Lebanon demonstrate. Let's be clear. What we risk here is the US military ending up as a private militia for the far right.
There are already serious questions about the Bush administration's stacking the senior officer corps with born-again fundamentalist Christians, many who are millienialsts and believe that we are now in at the end of days. The Air Force Academy is a case in point. One of four service academies dedicated to turning out the US military's corps of officers, the Academy has been literally taken-over by fundamentalists and turned into a Madrassa for Christian "warriors." Read about it here. Now that's scary. Here's what Republican, former Reagan-administration official and Academy alumnus M. Weinstein had to say about the issue in a 2007 OpEd.
When I began asking questions about what I saw going on at Colorado Springs in 2004 I never expected that the inquiry would lead me to the horrifying conclusion that our country had been taken over by people who have used our own freedoms to enslave us. But that is what happened. When I began I, like most people, was focused on the personal. I believed that what was happening at the United States Air Force Academy, the harassment of cadets and staff with unwanted evangelism, was limited in scope. As the months passed, however, I found myself forced to constantly reassess my basic assumptions. The logic of events was stark and undeniable. Promises of an open inquiry were ignored; decent and courageous people like former Air Force Chaplin MeLinda Morton were intentionally muzzled to ensure the truth would not be heard and the wrongs righted.
As a Republican and an Academy graduate I find myself in head on conflict with my own oath to protect the Constitution. As a Jew I confronted a situation through ears that still hear the cries of my people walking silently into the brick buildings that would reduce them to ash. I cannot stand still and let that happen to my country.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
An epidemic of xenophobia and ethnic hatred appears to be gripping the planet - in what is already a difficult moment.
In the US, anti-immigrant ferver is at a high-level among a certain segment of the population. Stoked by unscrupulous, yellow journalists like Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, hate crimes against Hispanic immigrants are skyrocketing. And it's not just hate crimes; as communities add repressive employment regulations, voting restrictions, health-care limitations and educational obstacles in the path of local Spanish-speaking minorities. What's up with that? Seems mean-spirited and short-sighted. And another good reason to turn off CNN & Fox news.
Senator, and presidential candidate Barak Obama yesterday called Limbaugh and Dobbs to task - placing some of the blame for the spike in hate crimes directly at their feet. Read about it here. This is an unusually blunt, honest and courageous stand for a politican to take. Props to Obama for his honesty and guts.
It may come as an unpleasant surprise to some to learn that we've been here before in the US. The Mexican repatriation of the great depression is still a black-mark on the US human rights record. As the US economy deteriorated in the early 1930s, approximately 500,000 Mexicans and their American-born children were deported. 60 percent of those rounded-up and sent to Mexico were US citizens or legal residents. That's right, if you were brown and spoke Spanish you got put on the bus and deported. Sounds like ethnic cleansing to me. As might be expected under such circumstances, families were split up and lives were forever changed. Historians at the time and since have documented incidents including deporting families without providing them an opporunity to dispose of property or collect wages, and deporting the aged and infirm. Not a stellar moment for human rights and compassion.
It is important to remember that Hispanics were among the first settlers and property owners in much of the Western United States. Especially in California, which was a part of Mexico until the Mexican-American War of 1848. The Californeos were a mixture of Mexican and colonial Spanish settlers. And some supported independence from Mexico. In the treaties that settled the entire affair, all were promised by the US government respect for their residency and property. Again, that was not to be the case as most were forced from their land and ultimately treated as second-class citizens. A similar scenario played out in Texas, were Hispanic Tejanos fought side-by-side with their Anglo neighbors to establish the Lone Star Republic.
California has been a focus of ethnic tensions. The Zoot Suit riots of the early 1940s saw white servicemen being bused into Los Angeles for the sole purpose of beating anybody young, male and Mexican American. 5,000 servicemen by some counts. The Los Angeles Times lauded the military brawlers for having a "cleansing effect" on the City, while first lady Eleanor Roosevelt correctly labeled the activity "race riots."
Later, on August 29, 1970, journalist Reuben Salazar was assassinated by a Los Angeles Police officer while covering an anti-war demonstration. The officer was never prosecuted, though his blame was clear to all. At the time, Salazer was the voice of the Hispanic community and a celebrated journalist. Los Angeles is now, by the way, a majority Hispanic city and county. Ah, the irony.
With a woman and a mixed-race man in the Democratic presidential primary, one has to wonder if the current anti-immigrant movement is not the last-stand of angry and frightened European-American whites. You know, those who fear people of color, competition and change. Those who would turn-back the hands of time to another era. Well, the train has left the station. We're all on this trip together, and we'll be joined by others along the way. Time to get with the program, and start re-building our damaged nation together IMNSHO. Enough of this divisive immigrant bashing and mean-spirited ranting on the public airwaves. It's just not right. And if we're not careful, we may follow in the footsteps of South Africa or the Zoot Suit Riots.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
A very recent 60 Minutes on CBS had a segment featuring Dr. Farmer and his clinic in the poorest part of Haiti. If you haven't read the book (buy it from Amazon), or if you have and you missed the opportunity to see Farmer and his clinic, check out this video on the Partner's in Health web site.
Kidder, one of America's finest authors and biographers, described Dr. Farmer in these words:
"And I was drawn to the man himself. He worked extraordinary hours. In fact, I don’t think he sleeps more than an hour or two most nights. Here was a person who seemed to be practicing more than he preached, who seemed to be living, as nearly as any human being can, without hypocrisy. A challenging person, the kind of person whose example can irritate you by making you feel you’ve never done anything as important, and yet, in his presence, those kinds of feelings tended to vanish. In the past, when I’d imagined a person with credentials like his, I’d imagined someone dour and self-righteous, but he was very friendly and irreverent, and quite funny. He seemed like someone I’d like to know..."
One more thing. Please consider making a regular donation to PIH. We do, or I wouldn't ask. The Author's family makes an automatic quarterly donation to this more than worthy effort. After all, the health and soon nutrition of the poorest of the poor depend on Dr. Farmer, PIH and us.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I’ve been conceptualizing IPR for several years, starting back when I hosted The Jefferson Exchange, a daily talk show on an NPR network serving Oregon and Northern California.
I was amazed that no matter how many new and flashy forms of media and entertainment come along, talk radio — plain old not-very-high-tech talk radio — is probably more popular and influential than it’s ever been. Yet I don’t think anyone has begun to tap its potential for building national community, or calling us to a healthier, more satisfying future. I happen to be of a progressive political persuasion, but what I’m hearing on Air America and most other supposedly “left-leaning” outlets isn’t much more nurturing than what Rush and Sean Hannity serve up.
Whatever show I listen to brings to mind an old story I’ll bet you’ve heard:
"There are two wolves fighting inside me,” the Cherokee Elder tells his grandchildren around the fire. “One is fearful, greedy, cruel and violent. The other is gentle, kind, understanding and generous. They have fought each other my entire life.” “Which one wins, grandfather?” asks one of the children. Grandfather reflects. “The one I feed,” he says.
My passion to bring IPR into the world jumped to a higher level last year, when I left the NPR program to explore a run for the United States Senate. My decision not to run could be told in a long story, but the nub is this — at their best, political campaigns send this message: “Elect me, and I’ll go clean up our mess.” The world never has and never will work like that. Elected leaders by themselves simply don’t have the clout to overcome the accumulated power of special interests without the active, sustained support of those of us who elected them.
So my decision was to focus my energy not on a political campaign, but rather on the lynchpin for progressive change: energizing broad-based civic engagement and more active citizenship. That’s the core mission of two projects that have my full attention. The first is Immense Possibilities Radio. If what you’ve read so far interests you, let me offer two links that give a much fuller sense of the project.
1) A recent magazine article that places IPR squarely in the current political context. 2) IPR’s new, still-modest website.
Right now IPR is at a critical stage of development, looking for allies who want to see this kind of programming take root and spread. If you’re ready to help, or simply want to be kept updated on our progress, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh, and the second project? I’m glad you asked. It’s a book I’m currently launching called UNAFRAID: A Novel of the Possible. To quickly grasp its essence, and how it relates to the larger purpose by reading this.
[Jeff Golden, talk-show host extraordinaire, has contributed several posts to Pop Impulse, including his series from the Yearly KOS progressive blogger's convention last year - The Author]
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
While in Seville, make sure to pay a visit to the Museum del Baile Flamenco on Calle Manuel Rojas Marcos, #3. For techies, the museum is a multimedia wonderland. (The Author spent a good five minutes just checking out the servers & gear.) Some links to YouTube videos of well-known Flamenco artists are here. Let me know if you find any broken ones.
The artists referenced in the linked document above represent some of the traditional performers often associated with Flamenco. Traditionally, a sizeable majority of Flamenco singers are men. Worth noting are the female Flamenco stylists like La Nina Pastori and Matirio. Matirio is known for her on-stage presence and persona. She always appears in large black sunglasses, and usually with blood-red lipstick and a brightly colored hair comb. Quite the image.
From Breast Cancer awareness campaigns to her ads for Absolut Vodka, Martiro's considerable talents and reputation have resulted in a lot of attention and awards. She has appeared with many, well-known artists, published a book with a Spanish poet and starred in Spanish-language movies. She often plays with her son Raul Rodriguez, a virtuoso guitarist. Her throaty, contralto voice and dramatic technique take her beyond simple singer to performance artist. Read her bio here. And then cruise by her web site. Here's a taste of what you'll find.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Every once-and-a-while I am stuck dumb with awe at some new revelation, and that was the case the first time I witnessed a video of "two-handed" guitarist Enver Ismailov. Readers of Pop Impulse know that the guitar, and its many voices, is a regular subject of attention. Lately there are a number of guitarists who are taking the instrument to new and interesting places. Artists like Kaki King and Enver Ismailov are fond of the "tap" or "touch guitar" technique. At first, I had thought this a musical distraction. The redoubt of those who simply could not or would not master traditional technique. Wrong again. The more I listen to this percussive style of guitar playing the more I appreciate its possibilities. That's why I'm liking Enver Ismailov a lot. He takes this technique, which he's used in traditional Ukrainian and Turkic music for years, to new heights. This is no gimmick, rather a master who exploits technique to coax uniquely moving music from his instrument. Read his bio here, at World Music Central. I'm including two videos. The first is Ismailov playing a traditional piece that showcases his technique. The second is contemporary, even funky piece. Note his three-necked axe. Uh huh.
A little Funky
I confess to having this real "silk road" thing going on. I've posted previously about Central Asia and a favorite female vocalist, Sevara Nazarkhan. In addition to Nazarkhan and Ismailov, my Central Asian playlist includes: Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Ozel Turkbob and Erdul Erzincan.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Friday, May 2, 2008
Street Fashion often conjures up images of the Harajuku district of Tokyo and the wild and creative combinations that adorn the young Japanese who hang out there. Though often relying on a variety of brand names, Japanese street fashion is totally authentic in practice. Lolitas mix with Goths, cosplayers and Baroque princesses. (image: Cover of Fresh Fruit by Shoichi Aoki)
There are a number of great street fashion sites and blogs. CoolHunter is one of the best known. The site employs a worldwide network of correspondents with taste and cameras to seek out fashionable expressions on the streets of their own home towns. Their Paris correspondent has started his own blog, FaceHunter, which I really like. His images are great. This site has a list of links to other, street fashion web resources.
I've posted before about vintage baseball apparel from the Negro, Cuban and minor leagues, here. Though spendy, these garments are 100% authentic and made to very high standards. I like them. There's also a favorite post about a southern California family business that provides Zoot Suits to LA's barrio barons and players who are into Mexicanismo. It is clear that major brands have saturated the fashion market and are being discredited due to their lack of creative authenticity and their almost universal Chinese manufacturing. So what are the fashion-conscious to do? Why, make their own fashion statements of course. With whatever suits their fancy.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Sadly, workers and children will be the hardest hit, as 100 million more people worldwide sink into poverty. Read the Washington Post article on the subject here. Poverty already affects much of the third world, with over a billion people existing on less than $2 US per day. Just think about that. Then contemplate that number getting much bigger, because that's where this is all headed. We're already fighting wars over oil. Now, it appears, we may be faced with conflict over food. Just peachy.
Analysts tell us that schools will be especially hard hit, as many schools now feed their students. Indeed, some of the students in the third world attend school just for the meals. Now those will be gone, and children will be relegated to labor to try and close the poverty gap. Read about some of the reasons why we're facing this crisis here and the negative effects of our rush to Ethanol here. And read about its effects on Africa here.
Five years later and we've lost more troops, killed more Iraqi civilians, and spent our country into recession. Just today, the NYT reports that a car bomb in Bagdad killed nine. And this month alone, another 49 young Americans have died in this misguided conflict. Bush lied, people died. It really is that simple. You remember, there was incontrovertible evidence of WMD. Not! Then there was Al Qaeda, who it is now revealed came to Iraq only after we invaded. So countless lives and almost a trillion dollars later we're locked in a conflict that appears impossibly complex and difficult, with only the incompetent in both government and the military to lead us out of this Middle Eastern Hell. Proving once again that George Bush is without argument the most ignorant and clueless chief executive this great country has ever endured.Iraq