Monthly Archives: August 2008

Books August 2008


Amongst other things during the month of August, including replenishing my supplies, I read the following four books and have just started The Confederacy of Dunces:

Here is my very short and quick review of each: Continue reading



Filed under Literature

The Schizophrenia of the VP Choice


The old pick the young. The rookie picks the veteran. The Hawiian picks the continental, and the continental picks the Alaskan. The black canidate picks the white guy, the man picks the woman. The dark hair picks the white hair, and the white the dark.

Is it all a lack of creativity? The need for balance? The realization that two old white guys on the same ticket is political suicide? Contrast to blur any contrast as we merge into one monotone stain of meaningless political nihilism. I suppose if there is a bright light for everyone — both Republican and Democats would prefer worlds in which the opposing party’s VPs ruled rather than their foe’s front runners.


Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Brooks and A Little Balance to My Obamaism


To give a little balance to my forthright Obama support, I recommend you read conservative (yet extremely balanced) New York Times columnist David Brook’s satirical piece today entitled “A Speech to Delegates“.

He does a great job of poking fun at how ridiculous and over-the-top the DNC Convention and the speeches have been (even though I did see him at one point during the NewsHour’s live coverage in total awe of Michelle Obama). While I do think this particular line from the article is very funny,

No, this country cannot afford to elect John Bushmccain. Under Republican rule, locusts have stripped the land, adults wear crocs in public and M&M’s have lost their flavor. We must instead ride to the uplands of hope!

and I think he is totally correct to highlight the holes in the blind hope movement, there is nothing funny about what has happened to the country under Republican rule. There is no way around the facts.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Dear Spain, We are Not Caricatures


After the infantile expression of how the Spanish define and theoretically honor Asians, and after receiving comment after comment by my Spanish friends blindly defending such characterizations, I come once again upon an example of how the Spanish media reduces all things foreign to childish diminutives.

In today’s El Mundo article by Luis María Anson entitled “Carta de la ministra al presidente del COI”, ironically in the name of equality and in defense of women’s rights, Jesse Owens is referred as that “negrito” (little black man) who confronted Hitler. Yes, I know that (1) bringing up Owens’ memory is supposed to honor him and (2) Spanish people mean no harm by using the diminutive suffix “ito” when describing other ethnicities. How the use of “ito” would promote equality is anyone’s guess.

Such patronizing is childish at a minimum, offensive in the extreme, and overall tiresome. We no longer live in a time when Cola Cao commercials mocking Africans as little savages all too happy to be exploited in the fields should be considered acceptable. We are more than Chinitos with slanted eyes, or negritos, or moritos or sudacas or gringuitos who need to be condescended to. We are not caricatures, but people — live, breathing, multi-faceted and unique individuals.

Would it honor Nadal were he to be called the “Españolito” or “Mallorquinito who finally won Wimbledon?” Or to call Indurain the “Navarrito who dominated the Tour de France”? How about calling Athletic Bilbao the “equipito vasco”?

Racist speech is not only about intentionally and wilfully insulting a person or group of people based on their race or ethnicity, rather it is also about how we further stereotypes, generalizations and otherwise discriminate against those different from us through language – language that ultimately limits us as individuals. It can be subtle and it can be subconscious. It is often, as in these instances, furthered simply and unintentionally by lessening the value assigned to a set of people through a diminutive suffix or by summarizing them based on a single physical characteristic.

I am not saying that Spaniards or El Mundo are racist. Rather that it is time to reevaluate the way in which Spaniards discuss, define, and view others.


Filed under Essays, Living la vida española

Bob Marley, Burning Spear and Old Marcus Garvey

The other day I was talking about Burning Spear with my brother and about how he must see the old time Reggae great in concert this week in New York. After Bob Marley, Winston Rodney (aka”Burning Spear”) is one of the central most important figures in the history of Reggae, and one of the foremost proponents of Roots Reggae and the Rastafari movement.

Garvey’s Ghost

In the early 1970s, Burning Spear released Marcus Garvey, his signature LP dedicated to the Jamaican Pan-Africanist. While discussing the importance of this LP, Burning Spear’s unmistakable sound, and his role in the music, it hit me that no where in Bob Marley’s lyrics or discography is Marcus Garvey given any relevance. Bob Marley’s music was firmly grounded in Rastafarianism, yet strangely he makes no mention whatsoever of the prophetic Garvey. On the other hand, Garvey was consistently a major theme throughout 1970s Roots Reggae.

It would seem, in reference to Burning Spear’s song — that Bob Marley did not remember Old Marcus Garvey.


Filed under Digressions

Bill Can Speak


I have never hid the fact the I both admire Bill Clinton’s great political gifts and despise how he wastes those gifts with his divisive antics. I also have to admit that the Democratic Convention, and I am sure the Republican one will be the same, is a load of over-the-top only-in-America trash. Having said this, Bill Clinton reminded us last night of what an amazing orator he is. He might truly believe what he said, he might not. He’s Bill Clinton, and he’s as good an actor as Ronald Reagan ever was, plus he’s also a lawyer, and last night he sure looked like he was missing being the country’s head hauncho.

Love him or hate him, Bill made the compelling argument of why the U.S. cannot afford another Republican term in the White House. Another Bill — Bill Moyers — in the same vain made a similar argument in last week’s Journal:

As wages stagnate, prices are soaring. Economists call this pain the “misery index.” It’s a combination of the unemployment and inflation rates, and it’s what politicians have in mind when they ask, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Well, the misery index is the highest it’s been since George Bush’s father became president, seventeen years ago.

. . .

This year oil hit a record high – $147 a barrel when last year, it was less than half that – around $68. A loaf of bread is up 14% from last year, a dozen eggs is up 33%, and pizza makers have seen the cost of their cheese soar from $1.30 to $1.76. Flour used to make the dough has tripled in price. As these prices soar, the value of homes is sinking. One in three home buyers since 2003 now owe more than their property’s estimated worth. Not only has home equity plummeted, so has the value of other holdings, like stocks and bonds and pensions, the investments families count on as a cushion during hard times.

Has the Bush Admininstration done anything that was not destructive?

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Bill Gets Dissed

 Bill Gets Dissed

A lot will be written (mostly today) about how Hillary’s speech, although well delivered, was merely a half-hearted praisal of Obama. Richard Cohen called it “when you can’t say something nice“. But can anyone really be surprised about Hillary making it all about herself? She talked about herself, her issues, her campaign, her outfits, and the women who supported her. Some are saying that Hillary dissed Obama. Nevertheless, Hillary was just being her self-loving self, but what I found more surprising was her strongest dis.

Hillary started out her speech, introducing herself . . . “I am a proud mother . . .” At that moment, I looked at my own mother and said, “Mom, watch and see what she does not say, what she does not say she’s proud to be”.

I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.

That’s right! Curiously absent was a declaration of being “a proud wife”. She was a proud supporter of Barack and mother to Chelsea, but her husband — making his stupid condescending faces — was the real one to get dissed. Go girl.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

The Press, Obama and McCain


As I have mentioned previously, the press may talk more about Obama than McCain, but they are easier on McCain. Regardless of the evidence, it is always Obama who has problems with women, white men, and is fairing poorly in the polls. Obama is an unknown entity, and we all know exactly what McCains thinks and/or will do as president. As Frank Rich writes today in the New York Times,

What we have learned this summer is this: McCain’s trigger-happy temperament and reactionary policies offer worse than no change. He is an unstable bridge back not just to Bush policies but to an increasingly distant 20th-century America that is still fighting Red China in Vietnam and the Soviet Union in the cold war. As the country tries to navigate the fast-moving changes of the 21st century, McCain would put America on hold.

What Obama also should have learned by now is that the press is not his friend. Of course, he gets more ink and airtime than McCain; he’s sexier news. But as George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs documented in its study of six weeks of TV news reports this summer, Obama’s coverage was 28 percent positive, 72 percent negative. (For McCain, the split was 43/57.) Even McCain’s most blatant confusions, memory lapses and outright lies still barely cause a ripple, whether he’s railing against a piece of pork he in fact voted for, as he did at the Saddleback Church pseudodebate last weekend, or falsifying crucial details of his marital history in his memoirs, as The Los Angeles Times uncovered in court records last month.

. . .

Is a man who is just discovering the Internet qualified to lead a restoration of America’s economic and educational infrastructures? Is the leader of a virtually all-white political party America’s best salesman and moral avatar in the age of globalization? Does a bellicose Vietnam veteran who rushed to hitch his star to the self-immolating overreaches of Ahmad Chalabi, Pervez Musharraf and Mikheil Saakashvili have the judgment to keep America safe?

And then there is the POW card that McCain plays, as Maureen Dowd, explains Continue reading

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Humming Birds, Flowers, Eric Dolphy and More

Conversations is not the easiest Eric Dolphy LP to get your hands on. Iron Man, recorded at the same time, is much more accessible. Nevertheless, Conversations is a very interesting Dolphy recording, with great performances by a wide range of artists. For example, the song in this video, “Music Matador”, features Dolphy alongside Prince Lasha (flute), Sonny Simmons (alto), Clifford Jordan (soprano), Richard Davis (bass), and Charles Moffet (drums). There is also an interesting bass clarinet and bass duet, “Alone Together”.

I wanted to share this music with something else interesting as well, so I combined it with video footage of a Maryland garden full of Black-eyed Susans, Gold Finches, and even a Humming Bird. Enjoy the eclectic randomness of it all.

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Filed under Digressions, Jazz

Dazed and Confused

I just read, finally, a great op-ed by Frank Rich called “The Candidate We Still Don’t Know” that addresses the very point I have been making for a long time: the media is playing it easy on John McCain. No one is pressing him on his George W. Bush-like mental agility and missteps, his extremist friends and voting records, his policy changes for political convenience, and they seem to be trying to keep this race as close as possible.

McCain is a war veteran and former POW, but that is all we hear about him. No one mentions that he can’t use a computer or email, he often sounds  confused, or how Corsi (the guy who just wrote the anti-Obama book published by a famous Republican pundit) has also alleged that McCain has  financial ties to al Qaeda and Arizona mafia. And while the press questions Michelle Obama, we haven’t learned about Cindy McCain’s vast wealth and lobby connections.

What has recently irked me immensely, though, was John McCain’s speech the other day about the conflict in Georgia and Russia. McCain announced that he had spoken with the president of Georgia and said, “I told him that I know I speak for every American when I said to him, today, we are all Georgians.” Does John McCain or Barack Obama, at this point, have the right to speak for American people? Sorry, buddy, but you don’t speak for me.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08