Archive for March, 2011

The character of the cost of hunger ( and being fat…and poor )

March 28, 2011

Rev. Al Sharpton brings up-the horrifying truth- hunger among children and the astonishing fact that 44 million americans and 1 in 5 children depend on food stamps facing the possibility of funds cutbacks to the very program(s) that help them. (This sole fact makes me want write to the Queen of England and ask her to change their grandchildren wedding arrangements, and transform the $ dedicated to the celebrations, in help for children: a royal gesture on behalf of a former colony?) (Im sure there are hungry children in many corners of the Commonwealth too). Now that many Gopers have claimed that the economy is inextricably linked to the way we live: “social issues’ (really? but I think they mean it in reverse), we hope those programs will not be cut, but on the contrary, they would be made more efficient to maximize their reach to those that depend on them. However given the current character of the nation, worried more about padded bras for eight year olds (wthf? GG!!!), I am afraid the problem will be mutated unto something else.

One would want that those stamps can purchase enough healthy calories (food) for those children to grow up, well, healthy, and avoid fat. But no, how can anyone?: 1)prices are raging: 2 bucks/lettuce; 11 $ salmon/pound/WA; 2)people in food stamps are too depressed to think in anything else, but….eat; 3) the effects of poverty are multiplied by being fat. We have an obesity ‘epidemics”!!: you walk around and see: fat, fat fat fat (point with your finger while saying ), seat in coach and get fat, go to a seminar and get fat. An absurdly understated fact is that it has been shown (!) that obesity is more linked to HOW much we eat than anything else. The fact is that the ‘average” american male eats on the average 2,673 cal/day, but I suggest this number hides a gruesome reality of calorie overconsumption in underprivileged groups. So many fat children in underprivileged groups. Especially women (not proven) I doubt that stamps contribute to converge “health food’ (what a cognitively dissonant idea, if not utterly stupid) with fatness and $.

For the wise asses that have already called me on this: yes Im making the contention that being hungry can make you fat IN THE USA (not in Cambodia, where it will, being hungry, kill you faster) if you have stamps and access to 2000 calories of fried chicken in one 5 buck meal and there goes the cycle of self pounding and becoming addicted to….whatever.

On a related note and same thought streams, and striving to support “healthy food” some vegans, (Kathy Freston fantasizes on huffpost about the wisdom of a vegan diet its benefits on health and the general public, for example ) promote, or claim to, eating “good foods”, to fight fatterrorism. Besides veganism being an intellectually brankrupt “movement”, fueled by bad science and misconceptions, vegans have no grip of reality?; Of course not; show me a vegan in inner cities? a vegan in latino (of the tough kind) communities?; a cambodian vegan refugee? (Well he might have been vegan because he/she grew up that way and after thousands of year their metabolsim are tuned to their diet, of course). But in an incredibly silly argument Ms Freston goes:

“Beans, grains, veggies — these are the staples of populations around the world. Think of Mexico and South America, where inexpensive rice and beans coupled with corn tortillas and avocados are part of every diet; or rural China, where tofu with vegetables and rice, and maybe a very small bit of meat, is the norm; or India where people eat lentils or chickpeas and vegetables every day (there is NOTHING else to eat). Not only are these populations by no means wealthy, they also don’t have the diseases of wealthy countries (NO the die of hunger, war and opression). The general populations who eat these simple diets may get waterborne illnesses and lung infections from bad environmental conditions, but they don’t have anywhere near the rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes that we have — until they are exposed to our Western diet, that is (they use their evacuations to fertlize the food they eat. And that’s something to think about. Not only is a healthful plant-based diet less expensive at the grocery store (unless you go crazy for packaged convenience foods, of course) (NOT TRUE) it saves you personally and saves us societally in health care and many other direct and indirect costs. If you think these don’t affect you so much, think again. On the individual level alone, consider that your health insurance never pays for everything: even the best of plans charge deductibles and disallow certain medications. Being sick is expensive. More than that, a huge part of our country’s annual budget is given over to health-care costs, paid for by your tax dollars. And indirect health-care costs due to lost productivity adversely affect you in the form of higher taxes, too”.

save the system, fuck the poor and hungry.

Has Hitchens tried to imitate (or play) Burton?

March 27, 2011

In the 1970s Charles Collingwood, CBS 60 minutes, interviewed Ms Taylor, recently gone, and Mr Burton (not recently gone, but long gone). While listening to Mr Burton in said interview, it reminded me of someone and I thought: where have I heard some of the inflections, modisms and cracker joking of Mr Burton, in a lesser, yet familiar form (like playing the character)? The answer: Hitchens in some public “debates”. The guy has tried to be Burton all his life?. (without the looks, the wit and of, course without Ms Taylor, but with the boozing, no objections).

There are on the order of 300 rapes in the US PER DAY

March 26, 2011

The NYT gets sanctimonious highlighting the righteousness of their reporting. It has been awfully bad in Libya and Arab conflicts and Japan and Chilean earthquake so forth. It would really advance womens’ safety to run a campaign against womens’ rape here an elsewhere.

“For the members of the foreign news media here at the invitation of the government of Colonel Gaddafi — and largely confined to the Rixos Hotel except for official outings — the episode was a vivid reminder of the brutality of the Libyan government and the presence of its security forces even among the hotel staff. People in hotel uniforms, who just hours before had been serving coffee and clearing plates, grabbed table knives and rushed to physically restrain the woman and to hold back the journalists”

What about the brutality of the US armed forces where more than 3000 rapes are reported annually? A case has been filed against the military, which is conveniently undereported. ONE rape is one too many, but it bothers the hell out of me the way NYT tries to sell.

Humanitarian Bombing…again.

March 26, 2011

According to Paul Wolfowitz, bombings in Libya have been humanitarian.

According to Wikiledia:

“Humanitarian bombing is a phrase referring to the 1999 NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (24 March – 10 June 1999) during the Kosovo War used by its opponents as an ironic oxymoron in response to the stated goal of NATO to protect Kosovo Albanians, and later about other military interventions stressing human rights reasons. The closely related phrase humanitarian war appeared at the same time.
The phrase is often ascribed to Václav Havel,[1] then President of the Czech Republic, strong proponent of the intervention and critic of Slobodan Milošević’s regime. Havel however forcefully refuted his connection to the phrase as such in May 2004, going as far as to call MEP candidate Richard Falbr who criticised him for coining it a liar: “Of course not only I haven’t invented the obscure term “humanitarian bombing”, but also never even used it and could not have used it, since I have – I dare say – good taste.”[2]”

The character of the moon: full.

March 19, 2011

The moon should look like so tonight, without the plane, 1997 LaGuardia AP Photo/Timothy E. Black

The character of a nation, Chile, thru filmmakers’ eye.

March 19, 2011

the moon tonite will be lighting up the nostalgia for those dead

Salons’ Andre O’Hehir review of Patricio Guzmans’ movie “Nostalgia for the light”:

“What connections can be drawn between astronomers who study distant stars and galaxies, archaeologists who study pre-Columbian petroglyphs and mummified human remains, and women searching for loved ones who disappeared during Chile’s 1970s military dictatorship? In Patricio Guzmán’s almost metaphysical documentary “Nostalgia for the Light,” (Nostalgia de la luz, in spanish original) Chile’s Atacama Desert — often described as the driest place on Earth — is depicted as the site of all these explorations. This film demands patience from the viewer, unfolding its themes and its spectacular images gradually. But it packs a potent intellectual and emotional wallop, combining a post-Augustinian philosophical consideration of time with a passionate desire to uncover Chile’s painful recent history.

A veteran Chilean leftist who spent many years in exile after the 1973 military coup that overthrew the democratic socialist government of Salvador Allende, Guzmán became famous throughout the film world for his three-part documentary “The Battle of Chile,” which captured all the drama and tragedy of his country’s revolution and counterrevolution. It’s one of the greatest living-history pictures ever made, as well as a work of ardent political advocacy that influenced a generation of young radical filmmakers all over the world. (I’m confident that Michael Moore, Oliver Stone and Ken Loach, for instance, would agree.)

Almost four decades after Gen. Augusto Pinochet ousted Allende and installed a murderous right-wing junta (warmly embraced, of course, by the United States)( Kissinger), Guzmán remains hypnotized by that history. (He has also made films about Pinochet and Allende, as well as a documentary about his own return to Chile in 1997.) Traveling into the Atacama turns out to be at once a way of transcending that fixation and of going into it more deeply. Astronomers come there from all nations because the humidity-free skies render celestial bodies brilliantly clear; archaeologists come there because human remains and artifacts from thousands of years ago are perfectly preserved; and bereaved mothers, wives and sisters come there because Pinochet’s regime apparently buried the bodies of hundreds of kidnapped and executed dissidents there in the ’70s and ’80s.

All these people, Guzmán observes, are concerned with the past, and at least indirectly with the most profound and unanswerable questions about the nature and meaning of human existence. (Remember that the starlight we see from Earth has been traveling through space for many years; astronomers viewing the most distant galaxies are literally looking billions of years back in time.) As one astronomer explains, there is almost no such thing as the present — a fact observed by St. Augustine 1,600 years ago — and another observes that the atoms of calcium in the bones of Indians and dissidents interred in the Atacama were forged long ago by the stars, perhaps in the Big Bang itself. Guzmán even finds a young female astronomer whose parents were killed by Pinochet’s goons when she was a year old, and who finds in her profession a transcendent understanding that has eased her pain. (If the final scenes of her with her newborn don’t leave you weeping, irrespective of your politics, I don’t know what to say.) “Nostalgia for the Light” is less a conventional documentary than a work of poetic imagination or a nontheistic spiritual meditation. Enormously moving and wondrous to behold, it looks for a peaceful equilibrium in the universe that its creator’s home country may never find in itself.

“Nostalgia for the Light” is now playing at the IFC Center in New York. It opens March 25 in Seattle; April 1 in Vancouver, Canada; April 22 in Los Angeles and Washington; and May 13 in San Francisco, with more cities to follow. ”

The NYT published a review march 17.

The character of colonialism: Mister Johnson

March 19, 2011

I have never been warm to novels or “accounts” of the white mans’ “journey” anywhere. Always the worst of “nature” (in this case colonial white with a cloud of milk ) comes out in these jouneys. Joyce Cary’s Mister Johnson, made unto a striking movie (i think), summarizes salient-I mean salient- aspects of british imperialism in Africa, in Nigeria to be precise. (in the movie the sargeant keeps calling “niger” the village people). I realized I didnt know about the name Nigeria and wasnt sure its relationshios with the vernacular “nigger”. Building a road to connect villages the question is raised: why the road? Considering bypass regulations to stretch the budget one learns that without bypassing regulations there wouldnt be a road there wouldnt be an Empire..that would make regulations…Mister Johnson is a loyal niger british citizen that never has been to England.

From Prince Charles Dickson (nigerian that writes about Nigeria)

“So my first question would what is the etymology of the word Nigeria, while we ponder on that, my research showed the country’s name first appeared in print in The Times in 1897 and was suggested by the paper’s colonial editor Flora Shaw who would later marry Fredrick Lugard, the first Governor General of the Amalgamated Nigeria. The name comes from a combination of the words “Niger” (the country’s longest river) and “Area”. Its adjective form is Nigerian, which should not be confused with Nigerien for Niger.The origin of the name Niger is unknown. It is often assumed that it derives from the Latin word for “black”, niger, but there is no evidence for this, and it would have been more likely for Portuguese explorers to have used their own word, negro, or preto as they did elsewhere in the world; in any case the Niger is not a blackwater river. The name is thus thought to be indigenous, but no convincing origin has been found among the 30 languages of the Niger delta and lower reaches of the river. One hypothesis is that it comes from the Tuareg phrase gher n gheren “river of rivers” (shortened to ngher), originating in the middle reaches of the river around Timbuktu.” Amalgamated Nigeria? Like in amalgamated Lybia?

I read some history of Nigeria afterwards: Gut-wrenching. Even when told by the colonialists themselves (Cary was in the foreign “service”). The recent history of any country in Africa, Middle East, Far East is always told-the one we read- by incoming white men.The very idea of a so recent British “Empire” or French protectorates or italian (gasp) Libya is shocking in the light of whats going on now, lacking the will to look backwards for some light when deciding to bomb or not to bomb.

(the movie is quite “funny”, if one forgets the context..)

The character of an atheist: right down silly

March 18, 2011

While the world turns and the worm moon finishes waxing its 14 %, WEIT complains about a european judicial dictum regarding crucifixes in classrooms. Dr Coyne should use his dwindling influence to convert more religionists to reason and not make assholier than thou comments that will end in a firewall of contempt, because europeans dont care for americans for the most part; but americans try to imitate a british accent and be literate in european affairs. Lets cry together.

The character of Roger Cohen at the NYT.

March 18, 2011

I havent agreed with Cohens’ (NYT) weltanschauung too many a times, but today he surprised many, me included, when he ended his “Be ruthless or stay out” OPED thusly:

“What’s clear to me is that there is no halfway house. Spurn conscience-salving gestures. The case against going in prevails unless the West, backed and joined by the Arab League, decides it will, ruthlessly, stop, defeat, remove and, if necessary, kill Qaddafi in short order. I’m skeptical that determination can be forged. Only if it can be does intervention make sense.”

Cohen shows cojones here. I dont agree with his comparison with the Bosnia situation. Not all no fly zones interventions are the same. Why? He gives the answer himself:

“Life must be lived forward but can only be understood backward, as Kierkegaard noted. He might have added: “And if not, you’re in trouble.” Iraq and Afghanistan have provided powerful lessons in the cost of facile planning (or none), the ease of going in, the agony of getting out, and the limits of Western firepower”

Aslam Farouk-Alli at Aljazeera understood-ands- backward as follows:

“The modern Middle East was born in crisis. Remnants of the Ottoman and Safavid Empires of the 19th century, the countries of this realm only took the form of modern nation states after passing through the brutal mill of European colonialism. Whereas state formation in Europe took centuries to develop, countries in the Middle East were created by the veritable stroke of a pen; by a line drawn on a map; by a decision taken in a smoke-filled boardroom. The results were catastrophic and for the people of this realm the transition from sultanic patronage, to colonial subject, to modern citizen of an autocratic state was overwhelming: little, if any, consideration was given to their political aspirations.”

Absolutely gut wrenching. Contrast in the fly with Cohens’ approach.

BTW (by peoples request):” Aslam Farouk-Alli completed a M.Soc.Sci at the University of Cape Town and lectured part-time in the faculties of religion, language and literature and historical studies. He left the academy to pursue a career as a diplomat in the South African Civil Service. He is also the editor of The Future of Palestine and Israel – From Colonial Roots to Postcolonial Realities (Midrand, South Africa: Institute for Global Dialogue, 2007).”

The scientific character of this-idiot-nation

March 17, 2011

Robert W Benson at huffpost (Emeritus Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles)

“You might think that the revolution of Internet-blogging-networking technology would work to spread sound scientific knowledge more broadly, but you would be wrong. The new technology spreads a cacophony of voices in which the pre- Enlightenment folks are not only equal, but more numerous and dominant than the voices of reason. Journalist Charles Pierce not long ago wrote an essay on Idiot America, followed by a book of that name, in which he argued that

the rise of Idiot America today represents–for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power–the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.
Moreover, the new technology is not working alone. You have the likes of oil interests such as Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil funding a phalanx of anti-science spokesmen, think-tanks and lobbyists. They put their money into sowing doubt about the scientific consensus, as many of these same people did on tobacco, ozone and acid rain, playing on the fact that the way science works is to set up repeated challenges of the evidence by peers, but ignoring that scientific consensuses do indeed exist– otherwise, we would not have made the progress we did on tobacco, ozone and acid rain.”

“None of this would have surprised historian Richard Hofstadter who won a Pulitzer in 1964 for his book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Starting with the colonies, Hofstadter shows how the vast underlying stratum of anti-elite, anti-reason, anti-science Americans has frequently erupted into political and cultural action. These are folks who never heard of the Enlightenment of the 18th century, and do not experience a lot of reason, logic or the empirical method in their daily lives. They live by “common sense,” personal relationships and superstition. They have always been with us, and there are a lot of them. Their outburst into today’s anti-science global warming mania would just be the latest chapter in Hofstadter’s book.”

We agree in the assessment regarding the cacophonic yakking and yapping that obscure the issues.