Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

Archive for the ‘America’ Category

I Think Britain Was Eyeballing My Crotch

In America on July 4, 2009 at 12:23 am

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Happy Independence Day, You Filthy America Lovers

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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Regarding Obama

In America, Campaign 2008, Obama on November 9, 2008 at 3:08 am

I told you so.

Presidential Rumours

In America, Campaign 2008, Superintelligent sea cucumbers on October 15, 2008 at 7:29 pm

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Barack Obama

  1. Has a child by Ione Skye
  2. Has a substantial collection of Nerf guns
  3. As a young man, founded Slade fan club
  4. In law school, drank one bottle of sloe gin every day for two weeks for a bet; hospitalized
  5. Wife once won skeet shooting medal
  6. Is part Oneida Indian
  7. High school English teacher was Kyra Sedgwick’s mother
  8. Is champion-level horseman
  9. Deathly allergic to sesame seeds
  10. Collects antique glass photo negatives

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John McCain

  1. Was a registered Democrat prior to the Vietnam War
  2. Roommates at prep were gay couple still together today; one was set designer for “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda”
  3. Daughter dated Jay Z
  4. Has planted one cedar in Coronado National Forest for every year spent in confinement
  5. Owns every model of iPod released so far
  6. Survived a four-story fall onto the floor of the Pepsi Center
  7. Right arm is twice as strong as his left arm
  8. Holds pentathalon record for Naval Academy
  9. Great-grandfather was part of the Amana Colonies
  10. Can throw a beer bottle over 6o feet

Why I’m Voting for Obama

In America, Campaign 2008, Obama on February 2, 2008 at 6:01 am

obama obey

If I hear one more truss-wearing boomer media cretin slobber on about what a huge difference Obama’s race makes in an election that has yet to happen, I’m going to hunt him down and beat him to death with his own fucking lava lamp. I can’t count the number of times in the last month that I’ve actually heard a reporter (or what passes for one) ask a hapless, and usually baffled, would-be voter, “Do you think America is ready for a black president?”

The goal in asking this idiotic and bell-bottomed question is clearly twofold.

On one hand, it’s to create drama where there isn’t any. These folks seem to have come of age during a time when having a bong hit with a “black dude” turned you into a hip moral giant named “Not My Parents.” They can’t quite come to grips with the fact that there are people their age, like my parents, who never had the chemically-assisted self-awareness and family-funded leisure time necessary to congratulate themselves for sitting next to a black person without panicking. People like my father were helped to get over the very racism the boomers told each other they were fighting (well, you know, metaphorically speaking) by the tender ministrations of the US Military, in fruitful conjunction with the Vietnamese, who condescended to shoot at black and white both, with a refreshing lack of discrimination.

And of course there are those of us who came along much later and grew up together and so never hit on the idea that our lack of discomfort was a virtue when we, first, played together and, later, felt each other up and, in some cases, subsequently married each other. Neither of these two groups, see, and they are far more numerous, if less represented in the traditional media than the other group, make decisions, either pro or con based on race.

So, my point is, there are an awful lot of people, especially (though not exclusively) those my age and younger (and anymore, my age is no longer really young) who are going to vote for Obama, myself included, and the overwhelming majority of these people are not going to do so because he’s black. I mean, you know, good for him, that he is and everything? But we just didn’t get around to thinking about it until after we thought of things like, “Is this guy going to screw us to the fucking wall on another mid-life crisis of a war?” and “Is this guy smart enough to figure out the difference between the gross national product and the gross domestic product and if so, is he going to be able to do anything about either of them?” and “Is this guy going to nail some chick half his age on the desk in the Oval Office and make us all look like tools again?” and “Is this guy un-stupid enough to use the word ‘blog’ without following it with ‘pajamas’ thinking he’s going to get a big laugh and a knowing nod?”

We ask these questions, instead of “is America ready for a black president?” not because we’re moral giants. It’s because it never occurred to us to waste our vote on proving we’re broad-minded. That’s what fucking bumper stickers are for.

And guess what? There is also going to be a huge group of people who vote for others besides Obama, not because “the country isn’t ready for a black president,” but because they don’t think Obama can do what Clinton or McCain can do. (And a little “as if” I think would be salutary at this point.)

So, come on, you bunch of myopic temporally-compromised geezers. Both those of you whose salad days took place to the embarrassingly histrionic soundtrack of Jefferson Airplane and the gut-twirling smell of crappy weed and those of you who spent that same time shopping for horn-rimmed glasses and developing your “hard-headed realism” (you’re all hippies to me):

Cleanse yourself a little of those cheap, easy questions with their pre-fab answers that just so happen to make it easier to get your story in under deadline — and do your damned jobs.

Open Letter to Loic

In America, Egypt, Entrepreneurship, France, Free speech, Human rights, Jailed bloggers, Social media on June 2, 2007 at 5:57 pm

Parisianwigglers
Parisian wigglers at a bar in the Bastille, by S.

Dear Loic:

We don’t know each other well, having done nothing more than exchange a few emails over the years. But one of the benefits of being a participant in the wide world of social media is a shamelessness and a willingness to dialogue publicly, qualities the world’s leaders would do well to emulate.

So when, this morning, I read an op-ed about newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy, I decided to use this forum to ask you a couple of favors and give you, and through you Sarko, a couple of pieces of unsolicited advice.

First, let me congratulate you on your candidate winning. Although I don’t wish to give you too much credit for that win, it would be equally specious to pretend your activities played no part at all. From your introduction of the then-candidates at LeWeb3, however poorly received, to your mediating public conversations, to your advising him on communications issues, he listened to you to good effect. I have no doubt he will continue to do so. I’d like to ask you, then, to pass on to him ideas that have come up in the course of thinking about three issues: U.S.-French relations, immigration and online freedom.

Regarding the relations between our two countries, let me start by saying Bush is on his way out. Considering the mood in my country regarding his actions and those of his allies, I believe it unlikely that his ideological legacy will continue, at least not be actively continued by a new administration of either party. Although part of the rift between France and America is clearly a function of the arrogance, entitlement and ignorance of the current U.S. administration, not all of it is. What I found most irritating on the part of Europeans over the past few years is the hypocrisy. During and around World War I, Americans were constantly belittled by the “Great Powers” for their “parochial” concerns, including a belief in self-determination. Wilson was considered a foolish little school teacher and Europeans ridiculed him for his ignorance of international politics as a “blood sport.”

Well, we learned. We looked up “realpolitik” in a dictionary and, not being a people who do things in half-measures, we committed to the notion. Once we had done so, of course, we were berated, by the French loudest of all, for our Machiavellian cynicism. This is just another example of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” that Americans feel they’ve had to endure, especially from Europe, since that day in July back in 1776.

Is it any wonder that some Americans found comfort in the Bush administration’s promise to no longer consult with the very Europeans who refused to do anything about anything on every little step we took? I don’t think it was a wise move. I don’t think it’s ever wise to stop talking. But I do understand the impulse that drove the support for the war at the beginning. And Sarko would do well to understand it as well. In other words, though no country, least of all my own, is above or should be above criticism, don’t be a dick about it. And in return, we’ll ask you for your thoughts, your input, your participation and your advice and we’ll actually listen to what you say; and we’ll ask you to do the same. (At least this is what I’ll be pressuring my new president to do.)

Our two countries have a long, complex history of mutual interdependence. Americans love France almost as much as we love to make fun of it. And the French seem almost as fascinated by America as they are intent on criticizing it. So let’s stop looking away every time the other looks up from his or her newspaper.

Immigration. When my wife and I visited Paris in 2004, at the end of a very long, emotionally challenging trip through Britain, Holland, Latvia and Germany (Paris was our reward), I was shocked at the change in the make up of the French people, in fact, of all Europe. I was slightly distressed at the change, but I was hopeful that it signaled the beginning of a Europe made of countries whose citizens were bound together less by ethnicity and history and more by a devotion to creating the future. On Bastille Day, however, those thoughts were laid to rest by the most astonishing series of altercations. We saw almost a dozen violent battles between young Muslims and others. I wrote about it. A year later, I saw these clashes as the quiet preface to the horrible Parisian riots.

Even at the time I remember thinking how the unrealistic approach to your immigrants (and ethnic minorities) was. Give immigrants everything they want and nothing they need and whitewash it all with slogans and expect not to see your capital explode? Who’s the Pollyanna now? Subsidizing housing, giving out free food, allowing people to rule themselves based on the extreme version of their religious ideology and refusing to allow them to take the responsibility for their own actions, these and other such “humanitarian” efforts will never overcome the abiding belief that the millions of people around you aren’t really as good as you, aren’t really capable of being Frenchmen, a belief that disallows these same men and women from work, from becoming self-sufficient and learning how to dialogue with those around them.

The only way to turn your vast immigrant population into real citizens is to require and allow. Require your immigrants to work–and then allow them the opportunities to do so. (As an entrepreneur yourself, I have no doubt you understand the appeal of such a course of action.) Require your immigrants take responsibility for their own actions–and then allow them a place at the national table. Stop excusing the encouragement by a fierce minority of anti-French values with one hand while slapping them with the other. (And you may want to ask your friend if he thinks calling them “scum” is the most helpful idea.) Require them to take part in French life–and allow them to debate what it is.

It would try the belief of any knowledgeable person to assert that my country has immigration figured out (!). But it would be equally preposterous to maintain there is another country on Earth who handles immigrants better. We are among the richest and most powerful countries on the planet as a direct result of our policy toward immigration, immigrants and citizenship.

Entrepreneurialism is the key to a thriving France. Encourage and allow innovation on the part not just of the ethnically, historically French but of those immigrants who can help create the new France, and you have a chance at creating something admirable. I understand Sarkozy is pro-entrepreneurial. You certainly are. Lean on him. There will be, as you know better than I, no end of people pushing back. It’s not that I am a proponent of capitalism without restrictions, it’s just that I am not a proponent of restrictions without capitalism.

Finally, online freedom. I doubt very much you need me to induce you to encourage Sarko to keep this issue in front of him. For one thing, in an increasingly borderless world, you can’t have a self-perpetuating economy without free inquiry and you can’t have free inquiry without an unfettered internet. First on our agenda must be keeping the Internet free at home–you take France, I’ll take the U.S. But it’s very important to pursue this internationally as well. What good is it if France is an island of online freedom in a sea of closed mouths? Strongly encourage Sarkozy to put pressure on, publicly criticize, indict China and Iran and Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and all the other countries of the world who use the Internet as a tool of control.

This is not a matter, as the governments of these countries often claim, of extending our “Western European values” to a place we have no business doing anything but business. These are human values and human rights and we are charged — by human reason and divine will — with the promotion and defense of this spiritual necessity. It doesn’t matter if we agree or disagree with what is being said. What matters is that we act, in whatever small way is open to us, in assisting our brothers and sisters in removing the deforming bars of every prison that agents of control succeed in erecting.

Just to make sure that I don’t wind up wallowing in adorable generalities, I would like to ask you to convince Sarko to do one thing that is nothing if not tangible. Namely, to agitate publicly, and in his position of the leader of his country, for the release of Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman from prison in Egypt. Kareem was sentenced to four years in prison for criticizing Islam and the leadership of Egypt on his blog.

Abdul Monem Mahmood, a blogger and member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, defended Kareem on his blog and spent time in prison because of it. If a man who thinks the things Kareem said are rubbish is willing to defend him with his body, can the President of the Republic do less?

I hope this letter offers a little value for the money. I hope you read it in the same spirit I wrote it, respect, affection and excitement for the possibilities of the future. Of course, this being the “blogosphere” as you kids call it, if you don’t like it, you could always just, er, bring it ON motherfucker!

I remain, stridently, your American friend,

Curt

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Trading Posts

In America on December 3, 2006 at 1:23 am

Hubbell Trading Post
Hubbell Trading Post

One thing I’ve noticed dealing with a lot of Europeans, and no small number of especially East Coast Americans, is the belief that long ago, Indians died off. It was tragic, cowboys are bad, etc. News of their mortality always comes as something of a surprise to members of the 300+ extant tribes in the United States. I’ve always been interested in Indian cultures because, as a Northwesterner, they’ve always been part of my life, not as history, but as a present-day aspect.

I’ve also for a long time been fascinated by trading posts, especially those on Indian land in the Southwest. One reason is that, unlike the Northwest, those in the Southwest still in large part exist, not as museums, though those exist too, but as active elements of the cultural and economic life of the region.

I’m not sure why I was surprised to find that trading posts, like so many other elements of modern life, are beginning to find their own relationship to electronic communications. A number of them have websites. I thought it would be interesting to assemble a list of trading post sites here. If you know of others, please let me know in the comment field or by emailing me at [blogdinetah at gmail dot com].

Cameron Trading Post
Foutz Trading Post
Goulding’s Trading Post
Hubbell Trading Post
Ice Cave Trading Post
Notah Dineh
Oljato Trading Post
Richardson Trading Post
Shiprock Trading Post
Toadlena Trading Post
Tobe Turpen’s Trading Post
Twin Rocks Trading Post

A project and site called Traders, is quite interesting. It is a collaboration between Northern Arizona University and the United Indian Traders Association to collect materials related to “the traders’ rich and sometimes controversial history” is fascinating reading.

According to the Traders site, “In 1973, the Federal Trade Commission conducted a study of the trading post system on the Navajo reservation to help determine the extent of unfair trade practices by reservation traders. Following the report issued by the FTC, the Bureau of Indian Affairs came out with new regulations that changed the face of trading on the reservations.”

It makes you wonder if there will be any service-oriented trading posts on or near Indian land in another decade. Most of those that are thriving look to be antique and Indian arts dealers, really. I really hope traditional traders, if they exist at all in any numbers, can survive.

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Don’t forget to check out my BlogDinetah Navajo blog aggregator or subscribe to the BlogDinetah feed.

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Jeffersonian Chitter-Chatter

In America, Writers on July 17, 2006 at 5:46 pm


Jeffersonian Chitter-Chatter
Originally uploaded by Blogswana.

“I tremble for my nation when I reflect that God is just.”

To see the Jefferson memorial is to see the promise. The injustice of slavery compromised the message of the country’s promise. You have to see the Lincoln memorial to see that wrong rectified, though Abe was, let’s face facts, really truly not in the same league as Jefferson as a thinker or especially a writer. But I guess he didn’t need to be. He had a pretty fat mark to swing at.

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Washington Monument at Night

In America on July 17, 2006 at 5:36 pm


Washington Monument at Night
Originally uploaded by Blogswana.

Eerie and sublime, the afterglow of delicious and nutritious liberty. Kelvin took me around to the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. Hilarious and nearly inspiring. A very r-o-c-k in the U-S-A x ebony-and-ivory type of experience.

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Kelvin in DC

In America, Friends on July 17, 2006 at 5:32 pm


Kelvin in DC
Originally uploaded by Blogswana.

Absolute Zero insisting on the continued rocking in or about the free world.

Castle Garden Southwest

In America on June 26, 2006 at 5:49 pm

A professor of mine from the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon, Frances Cogan, is writing a new book on the Castle Garden Immigration Station, the precursor to Ellis Island.

Castle Garden was a hallmark of what Cogan calls “pragmatic idealism.” It was based on both an aknowledgment of the reality of immigration and a desire to do good by both the country and the people coming to it. Given the frothy gibberish that characterizes the current immigration debate, anything pragmatic should be welcomed by those not satisfied by political foam.

So, inspired by this radical contrast to the current thinking about immigration, Francie wrote a proposal for a new series of immigration stations in the Southwest built on the Castle Garden model. She sent the proposal toSenator John McCain. One of his field officers let Francie know that the senator was very, very not interested.

Since the proposal is interesting (and the lightning rejection by a politician of McCain’s stature is like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for interesting ideas), I thought I would offer the proposal for download here. Thanks to Marshall for hosting the documents and Francie for writing them.

From Francie’s abstract:

The most practical plan to solve the illegal immigration problem along the Southwest border is to build a series of eight small immigration stations across California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The key to both national security and cost is to entice potential illegal immigrants to cross legally using a series of incentives which would make crossing at the border and being registered for a renewable green card a much better option than hazarding an illegal crossing through the desert. Enticements would include: granting a one year green card ID and work permit (renewable to five years, but with a yearly personal or signed renewal request); an immigrant’s five year portable group health insurance plan with nominal monthly premiums; use of an official labor exchange for jobs; a place to stay with food and shelter while waiting to get the job; and free transportation to the immigrant station and to bus station or airports to help the immigrants on their way.

The pilot program suggested throughout this report envisions the future particulars of such a single station, located in Nogales, AZ. Questions of operation, security, and humanitarian concerns, as well as possible financing possibilities, are included, as well as the scope of the problem of illegal immigration today and the solution. The plan described is based on the highly successful New York City Castle Garden Immigrant Depot, and accoutrements and policies when processing eight million immigrants arriving in the U.S. between 1855 and 1890.

Dowload the proposal here:

Castle Garden Southwest proposal

Castle Garden Southwest appendix

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