Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mexico Reeling after Combination Punch

Cross posted from World Impulse.

Mexico is the populous, next-door neighbor to the United States. “El Norte,” the Mexicans say when referring to the US. The United States of Mexico (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), as the country is properly labeled, is the fifth largest state in the Americas and the 14th largest independent nation in the world, according to Wikipedia.

With a population of over 109 million, Mexico is now reeling from three hard blows in succession. First, Mexico is losing the drug war against well-armed, internal narco-gangs. They seem to have co-opted all levels of authority and operate with considerable impunity around the country. Not surprising. Even when The Author was originally learning El Espanol, living and traveling in Mexico, the central government was largely seen as the authority on the borders and the Plateau – and not much else. The Mexican plateau, with a majority of the country’s population and three of its most important cities: the Federal District (DF, Mexico City); Guadalajara; and, Pueblo, (with the addition of Monterrey in the north) has long been the focus of the central government’s attention and funding. The same appears to be true for the administration of president Calderon. Rural areas, especially those in the south, have gone without similar attention or funding and are abjectly poor and feudal. Crime remains a serious and growing problem throughout the country, especially kidnapping and murder.

Second: The economic crisis in the US, coupled with punitive and restrictive immigration laws, has resulted in a significant decrease in remittances by Mexican workers to their home villages. Adding to this blow, Mexican laborers are being forced by rising unemployment in the US to return to Mexico at an inopportune moment for both the families of the workers and the government of the state.

Third: The new Swine flu, A: H1N1, appears to have originated in Mexico and is now on its way to being the first major global pandemic in years. So tourism, Mexico’s trustworthy source of foreign currency, has dried up and commerce is slowing dramatically as the country shutters to avoid spreading contagion. Evidence is mounting that the contagion is not only viral, it is economic as well. And Mexico's economy will continue to suffer.

Technorati Tags: Mexico, Economy, Flu

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CALPERS to Vote Against Lewis at BofA

Today, the powerful California Public Employee Retirement System (CALPERS) announced that it would vote against the re-election of all 18 members of the Bank of America board of directors and would actively oppose the reappointment of Ken Lewis as the bank's CEO. Since CALPERS owns some 22 million shares, this is a big deal. Lewis, as The Author's previous post indicates, is under fire from all sides. With this last volley, his survival at the institution is in question to say the least. As it should be. Pop Impulse is impressed.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fire Ken Lewis

The Bank of America should fire its CEO, Ken Lewis. He is an enemy of the people, in the simplest of terms. The predatory practices of his bank, both before and after the economic crisis, require nothing less. If you're feeling the effects of this depression, or if you or someone you know has lost a job, this man is in some way responsible. At the very least, he's a good place to start pointing the finger of blame. Then, the middle finger of anger.

B of A used to be a great bank. A really great bank. The company rebuilt San Francisco after the devastating earthquake at the beginning of the last century. It made loans to working-class Americans when other institutions wouldn't. It was the bank for the common fellow. No more. Now it raises rates on its best customers, pushes credit cards on the unqualified, and exacts fees for just about any imaginable event - while handing out bonuses to its crew of clueless executives. Just take a look at the video below (after taking your blood pressure or anti-anxiety meds).

Related Posts
Don't Blame Consumers for Bad Loans
Predatory Business Practices
Classism & Corporate Greed Devalue America
Is the US Becoming a Third World Nation?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

Let "The Guide Girls" show you how easy it is to be green. Thanks to Parneet, a fellow tweeter, for the link. How is your garden growing? Leave me a note.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Are These People?

My, my. We do these silly thing, it seems, because we can. Makes me celebrate the cynical skepticism of the Vienna Circle and the Linguistic Analysts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Le fumeur de cigare

I love the music of Richard Galliano. It provides the perfect audio track for this delightful, French animation celebrating the joys of a fine cigar.

more about "Le fumeur de cigare", posted with vodpod

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Imogen Heap - Diva with a Difference

The Author is fond of female vocalists, as any regular reader knows. A favorite playlist of late features the tunes of Imogen Heap and Frou Frou. Heap has definite nerd appeal, as she taught herself sequencing and audio engineering at a very young age on an Atari system. Very impressive, in a geekilicious way. Her musical compositions are unique, textured treasures - often multi-layered with just the right amount of electronica. Her voice is mesmerizing. Check out her personal site. Or, you can follow her on Twitter.

A comment on a review site summed it up for me. "She may not be good looking, in a traditional sense, but when this girl sings I just want to lay my head in her lap and disappear into the music." Yeah. That's got it. Another reason that reading (and leaving) comments is a good thing.

Heap has had a varied career: a notable album with the short-lived Frou Frou, a full discography of solo work; and, a number of tracks composed for TV and movies including tunes developed for Heros and the Chronicles of Narnia. The video below is The Author's personal favorite Heap tune.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mayra Andrade - Cape Verde's New Diva

The music of the Cape Verde islands, located off the coast of Angola on the west coast of Africa, is distinct. Cape Verde, like many shipping stops, was a Portuguese colony for a spell and the sons of Portugal left behind their language and musical sensibilities. This post is all about Mayra Andrade, a new Cape Verdian voice and an undeniable Diva in training. Wow.

Something magic happens when you mix old Portuguese tunes with mainland African rhythms. Cape Verdian singers are also of note. Rich, throaty songs full of tonal nuance and ethnic variation require much from would-be singers. Great, historic names like Cesaria Evora come to mind. The Author was lucky enough to see the Diva herself, at a stop in rural Medford at the Craterian Theatre some time ago.

Mayra Andrade, fresh and young, is the heir apparent to the legendary Evoria. (official web site) She captures the somtimes mellow, sometimes humorous, but always seductive rhythms of the genre with perfection. It's no wonder, she's been singing forever. Born in Havana, Cuba, Andrade moved to the Island at an early age and immediately took up singing and musical instruction. Well, the results are spectacular.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dato's Award-Winning Music Video

Georgian pop singer Dato Khujadze has won prizes and awards in his native Southwest Asian country as well as at international festivals and competitions. Described as a "transcontinental" country, Georgia is kind of like Central Europe's "South Central" neighborhood.

So Dato has performed duets with Coolio, mastered hip-hop, and produced an award-winning music video since his debut in 2000 and his first album in 2002. (official site). The video speaks for itself. Some of the most artistic free-hand sand painting The Author has ever seen. A treat.

Makhinji Var

Breaking News: Captain Phillips Freed

The BBC and other newswires are reporting the rescue of American Captain Phillips who had been held hostage by Somali pirates for several days following the abortive boarding of his vessel last week. His crew rallied and re-took the vessel from the heavily armed Somali privateers, but the Captain was taken hostage in the process.

News is that he jumped from his captors lifeboat, flinging himself overboard so that Navy Seals could do the rest. Reports indicate he is safe and sound. Hoo-Yah! Dudes, don't tread on us. Ever.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cabas - Cumbia Animado

I liked this Cumbia, catchy tune, and I loved the animation. Check it out.

Technorati Tags: Cumbia, Cabas, Colombia

Faces in the World

What could be more intriguing than wonderfully composed photographic images of faces from around the world? For the terminal people watcher, faces are like eye candy and today thanks to the wonder of "Blogger Play" from Google I discovered the blog of one Oberdan P. from Salerno, Italy. A fine photographer and accomplished world traveler, this 41 year old Italian has captured some remarkable images - a couple of which I've lifted to adorn this post.

So please, cruise by his blog and drive-up his traffic numbers in appreciation. Thanks Oberdan, for some memorable work. And thanks to Google for the engaging Blogger Play widget.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Inuit Throat Singing

Via William Gibson, via Boing Boing. Too cool. In a primitive, animistic sort of way. Very close to the rhythms of life and the earth.

Technorati Tags: music, Inuit