Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Real Affirmative Action

How the Ivy League schools keep the ruling class ruling.


"It's a good thing I had a bag of marijuana instead of a bag of spinach. I'd be dead by now."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fun Play about Travel in South America

Travel Sick, by Trevor Lock and Sem Devillart. A hypochondriac Englishman journeys across Peru in search of true love and himself.BBC4.

Friday, September 22, 2006


In a time of specialized knowledge here's a nugget for the Ludittes. An actual sentence I received today,

"The new class will be in Moodle so keep creating in Word, as soon as the new Server comes in we will export. We are exporting all D2L course now into our Beta site in Moodle just so we are a little ahead of the game"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Democracy, Shemocracy!

Where's the outrage? The democratically elected government of Thailand is overthrown and not a peep from London, Washington, the Washington Post, etc... This guy was a left wing populist who has won three elections. The middle classes and ruling elite and their allies in Washington didn't like him because he funneled the largesse of the state to the rural poor. Millionaire populist yes, but democratically elected. Just like in Venezuela, they believe in deomcracy when it suits their interests, that's all.

Liberal populist and liberal democracy overthrown in Thailand. And the West yawns.

Monday, September 18, 2006


In the last week or so I have had three relatively interesting conversations about identity which I think are all related. The conversations usually stemmed from my pronouncement (proclamation?) that I am a Catholic Atheist. CA you say? What the hell is that? To be pithy: I don't believe in god but culturally I was raised Catholic and thus retain the attributes of a Papist; authoritarian, an Old Testament sense of right and wrong, a New Testament sense of justice, I like the idea of family and ritual, like shiny stained glass thingies, have lots of guilt, am a prude, etc... On the Atheist front I am truly a soft atheist or agnostic meaning I can't prove or disprove its existence but am convinced it does not exist given current evidence.

The conversations went as follows, 1) "you are not a CA because you can't be both," 2) "an Arab or Jew are White not an other" and 3) "my identity changes every day."

1) I refuted #1 using the argument put forward above, just as a Jew can claim solidarity and cultural connection with the tribe of Abraham but not believe in god then I as an Atheist can describe my reality in terms of my religious upbringing which profoundly influenced the way that I experience the world. I have a friend that I met in graduate school that was a Mormon but an atheist. He loved his family, the choir, Salt Lake, his 10 wives (kidding), the idea of mission, milk, etc... but knew that the sky god and angel Moroni (is that where moron comes from?) were bunk. He was from all appearances a member of the Latter Day Saints Church but even though they would not recognize him as a follower through and through a Mormon.

2) Whiteness, oh the blancistos. The concept is an odd one. In the modern context, it represents the scientific revolution run amok. In the US the 18th century white ruling class and particularly slave holders and expansionists used the term to mark their "racial" superiority, in other words it is socially constructed given that people are 99.999% the same genetically. They used it to justify their enslavement of millions and to displace the natives of their land.

We tend to think of "whites" as white anglo-saxon protestants in this country because at the time of early expansion most people were either from the British Isles or northern Europe. This became a major problem for the racialists and US nationalists in the late 19th century because southern Europeans started to show up by the millions and they embraced the "American way" in droves thus the major revival of the Klan which added to its list of least favored nations Papists and Jews. As the Iyetalians, Greeks, Spanairds, Poles, Russians, Slovaks, Croats and to a lesser extent Jews moved to the suburbs, became more affluent and more Republican and fully assimilated as the 20th century progressed they seemed to be able to join the ranks of whitehood as it became more and more common to see a Tanzillo, Baronian, Kanzakas or Jacersavic at the Elks, Knights of Columbus or at the local bowling league or little league game. It also became easier for them to become "white" as "others" started to show up on the shore in larger numbers after WWII in particular Latinos, Asians and South Asians.

Can Muhammad Otham or Julie Rosenberg or Julio Hernandez for that matter be "white" on an application you betcha, just as they could be other, it depends on how they experienced the United States or how their ideological perspective embraced or rejected the American Dream.

3) The third conversation occurred during a debate over why we "need" an identity anyway. I guess we don't need one but it sure helps when people ask who we are and whether we like it or not we have one. It also helps us figure out our place within our society and gives us the ability to be objective about our own reality and others reality. For me this is important for political reasons. If we understand our current time and place we can change it, within limits. We are creatures of biology, time, place our upbringing and every input that occurred during that time.
One of the statements in particular that I objected to was "my identity changes everyday." We may present ourselves to different people in different ways and like to think of ourselves as open minded and ever changing, but I would posit that we may grow and change intellectually but our basic values and primary world view is formed in our adolescents and is not fundamentally altered throughout our lives.

This is not an argument for nationalism. It's an argument for self-reflection, objective analysis and political action to alter a culture that has accepted the notion that we are what we buy.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Four, Five more Golf Courses!

Caracas Mayor advocates expropriation of golf courses to solve housing issues in Venezuela's largest city.

Bully! A symbolic measure that harms very few for the benefit of the many! By the way Hugo has not weighed in on the issue.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bobby Z Acussed of Plagiarism

Did Bob Dylan "borrow" Civil War poet Henry Timrod's lyrics?
Other accusations and a discussion, apologia?

Calling the Kettle

Pope "I can't remember what I did during WWII" Benedict quotes another poobah as saying Mohamed brought only "evil and inhuman" things to the world. True, but this from a guy who represents an organization that shared power with almost every venal European empire and government for at least 1400 years, spearheaded a conquest or Crusade that killed thousands,

opposed any scientific inquiry and independent thinking stunting human development for hundreds of years, owned much of the land of Europe while millions toiled and died of starvation while a rapacious ruling elite lived like....well kings, including Popes, bishops and other rogues, spearheaded a pogrom called the Inquisition, condoned colonialism, perpetuated the idea of the murder of their god (Jesus), or at least a third of it, was killed by Jews and thus helping create the viscous pogroms that climaxed in the Holocaust; which the church remained silent on during key moments during WWI, has continued (until only a few months ago) its, dare I say immoral, position on contraception that has sentenced millions to an excrutiating death by complications from the AIDS virus,

has maintained the position of the "immoral" nature of oral, anal and any other sex not sanctioned by the celibate ones creating conditions for LBGT people and women dominated by pious men that has led to third class citizenship and violence against the majority......

Here's the text of the speech.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Anatomy of a Smear

Here's an article that ran on the BBC website. I think it needs some annotation.

Could Nicaragua's former leftist revolutionary leader, Daniel Ortega once again become president of his country? Mr Ortega's Sandinista party led Nicaragua in the 1980s with strong US opposition.

Mr Ortega still enjoys public support
I had travelled to Nicaragua with a vague promise of an interview with a legendary figure of the Cold War era.

Those commies are always vague.

He is a hero of the left, whose name some say should have long faded into the past. But Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinista revolution, and thorn in America's side, is still alive and kicking - 16 years after being voted out of office.

Why exactly it should it have faded away?, we're not sure but something sinister is in the air with these vague Nicaraguans of the Cold War era

Back in Washington, Ortega's wife Rosario, the power behind the throne, had assured me that he wanted to talk to the BBC.

Hmmm, let's challenge his manhood why don't we, is he a mama's boy also?

Now in Managua, though, the doubts set in. It was proving hard to nail down a time or a place.

See how they are? Not to be trusted. How about nailing down a time before you left town big guy?

I had been told that Mr Ortega would be holding a political meeting on Saturday night. Now we were informed that it would happen in the morning.
The venue - one of Managua's more exclusive hotels, seemed a bit odd, too. It is hardly the choice of a self-proclaimed champion of the poor and man of the people.

A little left wing critique here. Is this guy a commie?

I had been hoping more for a mass rally near a Managuan slum.

Is this where you usually hang out?

But, yes, there in this conference room of a four star hotel with its own casino, was "El Comandante" - the commander of the Sandinista revolution.
The military fatigues have been dispensed with long ago. The Marxist rhetoric has softened. A few of his supporters wore Che Guevara T-shirts, but there was little else to suggest this was a revolutionaries' meeting.

More left wing out flanking. Is this guy in the Spartacists?
And there was still no sign that I would be getting the interview.

The one constant from the era of the revolution seemed to be the Sandinista love of long political discourse.

God, I hate commies, they are so long winded and analytical, can't they just give me a sound bite so I can get back to the people's struggle in the Managua and London working class neighborhoods?

The conference room, I was told, had been booked until five o'clock. There was a long list of speakers. Mr Ortega, it seemed, was intent on listening to every word and embracing each speaker when they had finally stopped talking.

Booooring! I am going to the bar.

I decided to cut my losses and come back later.

In other words, not do any reporting just believe....

Anyway I had a previous engagement to interview the US ambassador.

Ohhhhh? ....what the US ambassador has to say. Is this story about the US or Daniel Ortega or the Nicaraguan election? It's really hard to tell.

Washington is alarmed by Mr Ortega's political comeback and there is plenty of bad blood. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration had illegally funded the "Contras" to oust Ortega from power. Then it was the fear of creeping Soviet influence. Now Washington worries about interference from the confrontational Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez wants Mr Ortega to win. But the Americans, too, are now openly voicing their support for other candidates. I wanted the ambassador to explain Washington's continuing animosity towards Mr Ortega. But, just as I was drawing up to the US embassy, a colleague called to say that Mr Ortega would do the interview in 20 minutes. Inconvenient, but still a sense of relief.

Actually I didn't really talk to the US Ambassador but I know they hate Chavez. Notice no critique of the US digs, oh yeah, he didn't make it to the interview.

Mr Ortega's many critics charge him with behaving like a dictator and I was beginning to see why. Sandinistas who have challenged him have been expelled from the party.

Did you see an example of this in your interview? Where is the evidence for this "dictatorial behavior?"

His opponents accuse him of political manipulation.

You mean like claiming Iraq had links with Al-Queda or had nukes and WMD? Where is your evidence Johnny Bull?

I asked him if he was still a revolutionary. He replied with an unequivocal yes.

You mean like Jefferson, Washington and Adams?

His minders said they would meet us at our hotel later. This time they proved true to their word.

This time............

They picked us up and drove us through the streets of Managua. For a visitor the city is virtually impossible to navigate. There is no real centre and few if any street signs. In 1972 an earthquake levelled the city. Managua's chaos can be blamed on the forces of nature - but the country's political troubles are more a man made disaster.

Did the FSLN do this? They have been out of power for 16 years!

We were eventually taken to what turned out to be the Ortega compound. After another short wait we were ushered into a room decorated in bright colours.

Garish aren't they, and commies too!

There we were warmly received Rosario. She was responsible, I was told, for the new colour scheme of the Sandinista movement - a garish pink. Seconds later Daniel appeared. We sat down for the interview in purple wicker chairs.

I had finally got my interview with the Sandinista leader.

His waistline was a little wider, his hair a little thinner - and still suspiciously dark. But there was still mischief in his eyes and strong anti-American rhetoric.

Fat and balding, what does this have to do with anything? Mischief makers. Like education, health care and subisdized electricity I am sure.

I asked him if he was still a revolutionary. He replied with an unequivocal yes.

Didn't he say this already? Is this guy drunk? Maybe too much time at the bar?

In the past he said he had fought a revolution with arms, but now Nicaragua had entered a new chapter. This time he was defending the revolutionary project with the vote.

Daniel Ortega talked for more than 40 minutes.

And? Does he give one quote? No. But he is still around. Maybe forever...

In the end my wait had been worth it. But the question now, will his own patience, endurance and careful political manoeuvring finally pay off? Will Daniel Ortega - the marathon man of Nicaraguan politics - once again become president of his country?

Here's the original article.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Akron/Family to release new album and tour. Not to be missed! Anyone want to meet in Toronto? I may have a frequent flyer companion.

Zimbabwe: Can Things Get Worse?

A telling statistic as Zimbabwe's main trade union leader is beaten and arrested.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary Day

Primary day here in Wisconsin. Not to many interesting races given that the parties cede seats all the time now, particularly in priimaries. In November the Republicans could lose the House. Here are the key Senate, House, and Governer's races.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/11 Crackpot Theories

Here's the BEST response to the 9/11 crank theorists that I have seen so far.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kim Il Cookoo

This picture says it all. Would you trust this family to rule your society for 60 years?

Thomas Frietrademan on Free Trade

Check out the corporate shill Thom Friedman in an interview with Tim Russert (no follow-up of course):

"We got this free market, and I admit, I was speaking out in Minnesota--my hometown, in fact, and guy stood up in the audience, said, `Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade agreement you'd oppose?' I said, `No, absolutely not.' I said, `You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade."

Here's a link to a discussion of the Liberal one.