Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Appropos Chinese Imperialism below...

The BBC reports about Africom, the new organisation responsible for all US military operations in Africa.......Chinese apologists, and recipients of Chinese largesse, are "accusing" the US of trying to counter Chinese influence in Africa.....the plot thickens.....

Beautiful Design from the old Eastern Europe

This beautiful coffee set, designed by Lubomir Tomaszewski in 1961, can be seen at London's Victoria and Albert Museum's new exhibit Cold War Modern: Design 1945-70. The review in the FT's House & Home, this past weekend, is worth reading...and those going to London are in for a treat! It is interesting to compare these items to the also lovely designs by Eva Zeisel,
who designs for Crate&Barrel, the American contemporary housewares and furniture shop.
Ms. Zeisel, born in Hungary in 1906, trained in the Soviet Union, before escaping to the USA in 1938. "Zeisel’s career in design continued to develop in the United States. In addition to designing for companies such as General Mills, Rosenthal China, Castelton China, Zeisel taught one of the first courses in industrial design at the Pratt Institute in New York. In 1946, Zeisel had the first one-woman show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York." (Wikipedia)

Horror: Haiti and Dominican Republic

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat. All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell. The first two books are about the Dominican and Haitian diasporas: what people left behind and what/who they found when they came to USA. The third book is about the only successful slave uprising in the Western Hemisphere (it occurred in the 18th century), essentially setting the scenes for what was to come in the Diaz and Danticat books. The horror, pain, and suffering described in these books, inflicted by one group of humans on another, is barely bearable to read; how people survive is beyond comprehension. And yet, these horrors and this suffering continues all over the world.
Other contemporary Caribbean authors to explore are: Jamaica Kincaid, Caryl Phillips, VS Naipaul

Monday, September 29, 2008

PNB, Twyla Tharp, and NYT

Today's NYT dance review by Gia Kourlas gave plenty of kudos to PNB in the All Tharp program mentioned in Saturday's blog entry. I liked Kourlas' description of "Opus 111" as having an Isadora Duncan feel and I am also pleased she gave such prominent mention to Mark Zappone and Randall Chiarelli: these two artists have been instrumental in PNB successes for many years.

Chinese Imperialism in Africa

Thanks to friend Al who sent an article by Peter Hitchins on the dire situation in many African countries caused by the presence of Chinese investors and government sponsored resource extraction and infrasturcture development projects: I have been pointing out for several years now the billions of dollars China has been pouring into many African nations for "development" projects. Then, Chinese entrepreneurs come in to provide support (food, goods) to the Chinese workers (managers), so not only are the locals only employed in menial labour and not only is there no further managerial training (promised by the Chinese to the local politicians as a way to get the projects in....plus bribes), but local businesses get screwed too. Note that the Chinese also paid all expenses for Ethiopian journalists (and how many others?) to attend the Beijing Olympics. The Mail & Guardian ran a similarly worrisome story in August 2008 on this very issue. These resource and infrastructure projects are all over the continent from Algeria all the way through South Africa.

The only other thing more worrying than the Chinese moving in, are the Muslim evangelicals moving into deep rural areas in Southern Africa (maybe other places too, I just don't know), setting up schools (madrasses) and businesses, and only hiring people if they convert.....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Make a Donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name....

New York Times
September 26, 2008, 7:49 pm

Cashing In on a G.O.P. Star

“Make a donation to Planned Parenthood,” the anonymous e-mail message urged. “Of any amount. In Sarah Palin’s name.”

The message, which began circulating widely on the Internet last week, had one more instruction: request that the personalized thank-you card from Planned Parenthood be sent to Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee and a vocal opponent of abortion, at the McCain-Palin campaign headquarters in Virginia.

So far, the scheme seems to be getting a strong response. As of Friday, Planned Parenthood had taken in $802,678 in donations from 31,313 people, said a spokesman for the organization, Tait Sye. More than two-thirds of the individuals are first-time donors to Planned Parenthood, Mr. Sye said, and money came in from all 50 states.

Ms. Palin’s status as a fund-raising draw for Planned Parenthood puts her in the company of President Bush, who was the target of a similar scheme in 2001, said Patt Morrison, a columnist for The Los Angeles Times who took credit for the idea.

“I envisioned a scene out of ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ” Ms. Morrison wrote on The Huffington Post last week, “sacks and sacks of thank-you cards from Planned Parenthood, delivered to Bush in the Oval Office.”

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, called the response “phenomenal,” and said she wanted to personally thank the “tens of thousands of individuals who responded to this call to action.”

Planned Parenthood said it would begin mailing the thank-you cards next week. The McCain campaign declined to comment.

Pacific Northwest Ballet & Twyla Tharp

This photograph, by the incredible ballet photographer Angela Sterling, is of Charlie Neshyba-Hodges, Kaori Nakamura, and Olivier Wevers in Afternoon Ball, a world premiere by Twyla Tharp. The dancing was stunning, the music by Vladimir Martynov was haunting, spiraling, and tension-inducing (like a Philip Glass tone poem or Arvo Part meditation), the costumes by Mark Zappone were just perfect. And of course, all of this only went to support Tharp's amazing talent as a choreographer. What struck me most about the piece was her insight...she must be a keen observer of people in their everyday lives; she must have empathy and sympathy for those whose lives are less than easy; and to translate that onto the stage takes a lifetime of experience. R.M. Campbell's review in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was generally spot on. However, what he saw at the end was certainly not what several of us saw. He describes the end as: "...... the blissful woman, alone and in a change of costume -- a long white dress, with a very, very long, train -- arrives upstage and sweeps the street tough, now shivering, perhaps withdrawing from a drug, into her arms. He is redeemed, I guess." We saw the "blissful woman" as the Angel of Death, providing succour and comfort. The lighting by Randall Chiarelli was amazing. We are very fortunate to have Peter Boal here to bring such freshness and inspiration to PNB.

Horror of horrors....where is the outrage?

Where was John McCain's American flag lapel pin during the debate last night? Did Fox News not see fit to comment on that? No one in the blogosphere either? Just because McCain says he is confident enough (what does that mean? in what?) that he does not need to wear one? Could we possibly have a double standard where only Democrats are accused of a lack of patriotism when they don't wear patriotic schlock?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rovian tactics again

Read this story in The Washington Post political blog to see just how slimy those Republicans are: an internet ad was posted while McCain was still avoiding the debate claiming that he had won the debate! Yet another case of if you repeat it three times it must be true.
For a reasonable analysis of the debate form a non-US source, see this FT link.

In search of evidence of a civil society....

For those interested in civil debate, this website will be a welcome relief: Debatepedia. If anyone has any other evidence, please share and perhaps we can begin moving away from soundbites and shouting as a way to engage in sharing and understanding ideas, regardless of personal opinion.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is it the glasses?

For Word Lovers Everywhere...

In the letters section of today's FT, the following offers us as much insight as any into the current crisis:

A new lexicon for the credit crunch generation...

Published: September 25 2008 03:00 | Last updated: September 25 2008 03:00

From Mr Aidan Kennedy.

Sir, I enjoyed Brian Groom’s Notebook item “Xmas comes early” (Ft.com, September 23). Grim financial news would surely have seemed more palatable if it had been delivered with the natural exuberance of the late Liverpool footballer Emlyn Hughes – for example, “The FTSE done fell 100 points early doors” or “Andy Hornby is literally as sick as a parrot”.

Rather than borrowing the syntax of football, it might be time for the credit crunch generation to develop its own lexicon and I propose the following to set the ball rolling (so to speak):

To AIG disgracefully: to casually take out an enormous loan.

To applegarth: to let ambition get the better of you.

To fuld: to prevaricate fatally.

To greenspan: to conveniently forget your errors.

To paulson: to screw your former competitor.

To thain: to get out while the going’s good.

To bernanke: to suffer from recurring nausea. For example, “My stomach’s a bit bernanke this morning.”

Finally, a proverb: “Beware of Greeks bearing stearns” which means you may be forced to gazump yourself.

Knowing your love of lists, you might want to build on the above.

Aidan Kennedy,
London SW11, UK

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If the world could vote for US President.....

The Economist magazine is offering anyone in the world the opportunity to express their choice for US President if they could vote. Go to the link in the previous sentence, sign up for The Economist .com (anyone can) and cast your vote.....it is being conducted like the Electoral College and is being called the Global Electoral College. So far, the only country in the world where McCain is ahead (52%) is....Bulgaria! An update: Bulgaria is now in the Obama camp, and it is Slovakia leaning to McCain. The electoral map is updated every 3 hours, so keep checking in.
For a reasonable analysis, see this FT link.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Love those Crows

Another poster from the Anti-Palin rally in Anchorage...1500 people attended..that's a lot of people by Alaska standards.
Crows play an important role in the mythology of most cultures, and it is no different here in the Pacific Northwest. Crows are important teachers and companions in the stories of the Native Peoples of this region. A wonderful book, In the Company of Crows and Ravens, by John Marzluff and Tony Angell, is a must-read for those interested in these so-human-like birds.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The story on PRI's The World about the Alutiiq masks housed in a museum in France for the last ~130 years and the 6 year effort to send these masks back to the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Alaska on loan was so moving. The Alutiiq artists went to France to see the masks and other artifacts that were unknown to their people for generations. This mask on the lower left reminded me of the incredible jewelry and sculpture
of Denise and Samuel Wallace. The mask on the upper left, called Woman-in-the-Moon can be found in the form of earrings, brooches, belts. To see more of the Wallace's incredible art, a recent book Arctic Transformations: The Jewelry of Denise & Samuel Wallace by Lois Sherr Dubin is well worth searching out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday revist to Oregon Wines and BHL

In the Travel Section of Sunday's Seattle Times/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Carol Pucci has an article on travel to McMinville, Oregon. She does a nice description of a few wineries and some eateries in McMinville. For a more extensive list of the more interesting wineries and wine makers, see the blog entry below on 30 August. Pucci makes passing mention of The Joel Palmer House and The Painted Lady (our favourite restaurant on the trip), but neglects mentioning Bistro Maison, La Rambla, or Nick's...the last three being in McMinville itself. On neither Pucci's trip nor ours did we visit Eyrie Vinyards...a big mistake it seems! On today's show of The Splendid Table, Lynne Rossetto Kasper interviews David and Jason Lett, father and son founder/owners of one of the oldest wineries in the Willamette Valley. David Lett's description of how to make outstanding pinot noir is worth listening to: Says Casper, "In the 1960s the idea of Oregon wine was laughable. But winemaker David Lett knew better when he planted the first Pinot Noir grapes in the state's Willamette Valley. Some 40 years later his Eyrie Vineyards are legendary."

There is an excellent review in today's New York Times Book Review by Christopher Hitchins of the Bernard-Henri Lévy book mentioned in the blog entry below.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So, Mbeki is out.....

This sculpture of Mbeki (all other political figures past and present are also similarly skewered) is in the town of Darling, north of Cape Town at Pieter Dirk Uys' political satire museum and restaurant....a must see for all who enjoy commentary on the antics of our politicians!

Where are Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale when we need them?
Be sure to read commentary in Mail & Guardian, Financial Times of London, and All Africa. What this means for the financial security of the country is clearly a worry, but Trevor Manuel has made it clear that he is staying on, at least for the meantime. Commentary on from the Washington Post found on Silobreaker indicates that there is reason for concern: " A senior Zuma ally recently told the Financial Times that his camp, once in power, would seek "a complete review of the conservative strategies we've pursued -- all of them." Zuma, however, has tried to reassure investors that he is committed to growth and the private sector."

Sarah's Freudian Slip

From Michael Cooper's NYT Political blog covering McCain-Palin in Grand Rapids, MI, Palin at one point says: “Sometimes my running mate is a bit too humble,’’ she said. “We need to remember who it was who pushed for and supported and risked much for the strategy that is working in Iraq, and that is the surge. He is the one who pushed for it.’’
It is customary for the top of the ticket to refer to the bottom of the ticket as "my running mate" and not the other way round! This was not the first time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Washington Wines expansion needs infrastructure

A request is being sent to Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington State to support highway development and expansion that will facilitate tourism growth in Washington's prestigious grape growing region, Red Mountain. Ed Shaw, who represents wine grape growers on Red Mountain, said that project is essential to the area's vintners.

"In the next 10 to 15 years, we expect to have up to 40 wineries and 1 million wine visitors to Red Mountain every year. We need access to the freeway," he said. "... The interchange at Benton City absolutely needs to be improved."

Views from elsewhere......but available in Seattle

From PRI's The World:
Marco Werman speaks with French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy about his views on the American presidential race...and how the French view the candidates.
Listen to the interview...This discussion of the candidates and Americans and the economy is very thought provoking. Lévy's new book is "Left in Dark Times"
Bernard-Henri Lévy will be speaking in Seattle, Monday night 22 Sept. at Town Hall

Also featured on this show is the Zimbabwean musician Chiwoniso. She is touring the US and encouraging engagement in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe, especially the lives of the children. Her album is available through the PRI Global Hit website and the program benefits from the purchase.

The Friday Reprieve...time for a little frothiness

Hemlines are supposed to predict/reflect the economy & stock market.....here is a snapshot of the current situation: up and down, serious and fluffy........

Below: Carlos Miele
Above: Graeme Black

And be sure to check out Portland fashion designer Leanne Marshall's fabulous clothes seen recently at Project Runway in NY.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First there is Reality, then there is What if.....

The new issue of the LRB has a continuation of Perry Anderson's "Kemalism" (see blog entry of; the current essay is "After Kemal". Also check out an archival essay in the LRB of an 18 Aug 2005 review by Slavoj Zizek of the book What Might Have Been: Imaginary History from 12 Leading Historians edited by Andrew Robert

CEO salaries.....the new definition of obscene

USA Today has an interactive chart on CEO salaries. While it is not new news that CEO's, particularly American ones, have been paid outrageous compensation, it is even more galling that they rake in the bucks even as they exit a company with their tails between their legs. The full article can be read at this link. The AFL-CIO has their own focus on this story. And Wikipedia has a nice tutorial explaining the how/what of CEO compensation. For the British viewpoint, see the FT. And on the European front, this FT link.

Timothy Egan, contributor to the NYT , native Northwesterner, and author of The Worst Hard Time, has an online opinion piece today entitled "Moo", about Palin and crony capitalism. "What these critics [of Palin] don’t understand is that crony capitalism is how things are done in Alaska. They reward failure in the Last Frontier state. In that sense, it’s not unlike like Wall Street’s treatment of C.E.O.’s who run companies into the ground." Be sure to read the comments at the end of the article.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maureen Dowd is a must read....as usual

Maureen Dowd's column in today's NYT is a must read on Palin. The whole column is devastating, but the last paragraph says it all. Dowd says : R. D. Levno, a retired school principal, flew in from Fairbanks. “She’s a child, inexperienced and simplistic,” she said of Sarah. “It’s taking us back to junior high school. She’s one of the popular girls, but one of the mean girls. She is seductive, but she is invented.”

Detritus and Despair...twin fallouts from the Reagan years

The current world economic crisis partly has its roots in the mad-happy days of Reaganomics, where deregulation was de rigueur, markets were encouraged to follow their gut instincts (you know, that reptilian response where you shoot first and think later, maybe), and all things good flowed downhill (remember..trickle-down), with the left-overs to be lapped up by the masses. We can read Kevin Phillips to educate ourselves further on this issue.

What is not often discussed is the impact Reagan had on mental health care; while the system was not perfect before, it was sure better that what is out there now. Aside from the issues surrounding voluntary/involuntary commitment of the mentally ill to receive institutional care (note the number of murders recently by people whose families could not commit them involuntarily), is the problem of little funding for residential care. This became especially problematic for children with severe social/mental issues. Residential care is expensive (~$60/child/year), but generally effective both for the child as well as the families of these children. When Reagan refused to federally fund residential care through block grants sent to cities and counties, most of these children had to be seen in outpatient services. Suddenly, counselors who had case loads of level 1 and 2 children, were now serving children classified at levels 3 and 4, sometimes level 5. These children then took up the time and allocated dollars and the 1's and 2's began receiving less care. You can imagine how this impacted schools, families, communities for over 20 years. And we wonder why we have ailing schools, teachers overwhelmed, everyone complaining. And now we, in Seattle, have Mayor Nickels wanting to throw $9M at the youth problem with inadequate planning, coordination of agencies and schools and parents. Until we have wrap-around planning and care, all we will be doing is patting ourselves on the back for being do-gooders.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Rushdie Effect

There is an excellent discussion in the FT of 13 Sept by John Lloyd called The Rushdie Effect on the role The Satanic Verses played, when the book was published on 26 Sept 1988, in bringing to the fore the clash of cultures in Britain between Muslims and mainstream society and what has happened in the intervening years. If you have never read The Satanic Verses, or any other books by Salman Rushdie, now would be a good time.

"First Dude"?

Salon has a story by Mike Madden on Sarah Palin's "First Dude"....the sub-heading is "Todd Palin has exerted unusual influence on his wife's Alaska government. In Washington, their methods would do Bush and Cheney proud." Well, this is a little creepy. Be sure to checkout The Huffington Post for a story on conservatives turning against the Mini Me and Mama campaign.

Monday, September 15, 2008

News from Cayuse

There is a new candidate for office....for some political relief, check out the Frog Files.
These photos are from the Cayuse vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington, a delightful part of the country to taste wine, attend college (Whitman College), and explore the Palouse.

Alaskan Women Against Palin

Be sure to check out "Mudflats: Tiptoeing Through the Muck of Alaskan Politics". This was sent to me by veteran journalist Andy Reynolds and certainly made me feel slightly less pessimistic.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Machiavelli and Karl Gollum Rove

Frank Rich's column in today's NYT, titled "The Palin-Whatshisname Ticket", on the sub-texts of the Palin message, is truly frightening. Karl-the-Gollum-Smeagol-Rove
is evolving into the worst nightmare Machiavelli could ever have imagined and is giving that thoughtful pragmatist and philosopher a truly bad name. It may be a good time to re-read The Prince as well as a good biographical sketch of Machiavelli. Good political works of fiction recommended for this election season by NPR's Dick Meyer:
Advise and Consent by Allen Drury, Shelley's Heart by Charles McCarry, and Roscoe by William Kennedy.

Be sure to check out....

the beautiful baskets featured in the right hand column down the page. I will be adding more soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Political ads viewed in the privacy of your home

Friend Barbara provided this link to political ads for campaigns dating back to 1952! It is very instructive...the ads can be viewed by candidate, year, issue, etc. The first ad on the right was run by the Democrats and is titled "Platform Double Talk" and the second is Nixon speaking on corruption.

Friday, September 12, 2008


With USA in political la-la-land, Russia on the couch, South Africa in the looney bin, where does that leave poor Zimbabwe? Chaos theory and the law of Entropy hardly begin to explain the mess that has been made of the lives and minds of Zimbabweans. We can only hope that Mugabe will soon rest in peace and that Morgan Tsvangirai has ample grace period to begin to rebuild a country that is beyond the brink of disaster..it is in the chasm of chaos. See both Mail & Guardian and NYT.

South Africa in the looney bin

You just gotta love lawyers and judges! When we really need them, they just fail us left, right, and center because of "procedural grounds". Jacob Zuma's charges have been dismissed on just such "procedural grounds" and so we are about to get ourselves another leader of disturbing moral character, who is whining about being left "a wounded warrior"! The article in the Mail & Guardian
would be funny if the consequences were not so dire. The NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) is considering appealing the ruling...perhaps they ought to have done a better job in the first place. There is also a report in the NYT.

Russia on the Couch

So now, Putin (whatever happened to Medvedev?) is asking the West to please try and understand his plight and realise just how stuck Russia is between a rock and a hard place. This would be pathetic, and possibly plausible, if it were not coming out of the mouth of the KGB. Today's NYT reports "For three and a half hours on Thursday, in tones that were alternately pugilistic and needy, Vladimir V. Putin tried to explain himself.......“What else could we do?” the Interfax news agency reported him as saying. “Do you think we should have wiped the bloody snot away and hung our heads?”
And check out this headline in the Mail & Guardian: "Medvedev likens Georgia attack to 9/11"
The Putin Playbook is so eerily similar to the Rove Playbook, it gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Disgraceful, Dishonorable, Distraction, Diversion

Strong words from E.J. Dionne Jr, commentator at The Washington Post: "The campaign is a blur of flying pieces of junk, lipstick and gutter-style attacks. John McCain's deceptions about Barack Obama's views and Sarah Palin's flip-flopping suggest an unedifying scuffle over a city council seat."

"The media bear a heavy responsibility because "balance" does not require giving equal time to truth and lies. So does McCain, who is running a disgraceful, dishonorable campaign of distraction and diversion."

When will the media start seriously calling out these people on the lies...this is not just 'political behaviour' or stretching the truth: this is out and out lying, which when repeated once, twice, thrice becomes reality...just like the advertisers who know that it works every time.

This says it all

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This story on All Things Considered today....

Made me cry.
Does Race Matter In '08? The View From York, Pa.

All Things Considered,
September 11, 2008 · This is the second report in a series of conversations NPR is having with voters in York, Pa., about race and its role in the 2008 presidential election. Steve Inskeep and Michele Norris plan to meet with a group of 13 voters — a mix of whites, blacks and Latinos — from this swing state several times this fall to dig a little bit deeper than election polls.
Most voters say they won't decide between Barack Obama and John McCain on the basis of race. But, in a question that is more subtle than the standard questions in a poll, can a decision be based on the racial experience of the voter?

Of the 13 voters interviewed by
Morning Edition and All Things Considered, many said this election had them thinking about race in new ways.

Please take the opportunity to listen to this segment on NPR, it is most instructive, and quite distressing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Russia's Hubris....it will come back to haunt them

Today's NYT headlines that "Russia's Recognition of Georgian Areas Raises Hopes of Its Own Separatists". Back in the day, with the breakup of the USSR, Yeltsin encouraged regions to assume sovereignty. Many of these regions seized this opportunity. Unfortunately (initially for the new Russia, but ultimately for the regions themselves), these areas contained mineral wealth that the new Russia wanted/needed and when Putin materialised out of the KGB and onto the national stage, he squashed these budding independents with ferocity (think Chechnya). Many of these areas are now taking courage from the Russian support of Ossetia and Abkhazia to make moves to separation. As one voice of opposition noted, that while Russia can try to squash these movements, ultimately, "The seeds of self-destruction are built into the authoritarian system. It is Moscow's mistake".
And if this does not do Russia in, then alcoholism and smoking surely will. The Russian government does not dare to put limits on smoking (see NYT) because The People like their nicotine and booze...numbs the effects of contemplating their corrupt and strong-arming politicians. So, they have the 4th highest per capita smoking rate in the world, their males have a life expectancy of 60....maybe, those who don't have lung or liver cancer get strung out on heroin, and, don't even mention the AIDS epidemic!

David Horsey is spot on again....

Women Say No to Sarah Palin

*Say no to Palin*
Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,
We are writing to you because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate that has a real possibility of becoming fact.
Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms. Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present or future daughters. To education, birth control, the pro-choice platform, environmental protection, alternative energy development, freedom of speech (as mayor she wanted to ban books and attempted to fire the librarian who stood against her), gun control, the separation of church and state, and polar bears. To say nothing of her complete lack of real preparation to become the second-most-powerful
person on the planet.
We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and altogether devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from.
First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.
Therefore, we invite you to reply here
with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.
Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and place of residence. We will post your responses on a blog called "Women Against Sarah Palin," which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience. The greater the
volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.
Thank you for your time and action.
Quinn Latimer and Lyra Kilston
New York, NY

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Man Booker Shortlist announced

The Man Booker Prize 2008 shortlisted novels are:

Aravind Adiga The White Tiger (Atlantic)
Sebastian Barry The Secret Scripture (Faber and Faber)
Amitav Ghosh Sea of Poppies (John Murray)
Linda Grant The Clothes on Their Backs (Virago)
Philip Hensher The Northern Clemency (Fourth Estate)
Steve Toltz A Fraction of the Whole (Hamish Hamilton)

Monday, September 8, 2008

The New York Review of Books

The current issue of the NYRB, Vol 55 No 14, has at least three articles of interest, given my previous post:
Obama: The Price of Being Black
By Andrew Hacker
Georgia and the Balance of Power
By George Friedman
The Perilous Price of Oil
By George Soros
Official American Sadism
By Anthony Lewis

The Russians ad nauseum

Today's New York Times has three articles on the Russians: the first regards the Georgian/Russian/Ossetian problem with intermarriage (same problem as in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq). The second article discusses the European mission to Moscow to discuss Georgia; and finally, a report from Caracas, on a Chavez-Medvedev plan for joint military exercises in the Caribbean. This is a worrying pattern of behaviour by the Russians, and combined with China and it's efforts at securing support in Africa, can make even a mild mannered liberal paranoid. The Chinese have not only been investing in infrastructure in all the developing economies in Africa (and which ones are not?!), but they are engaging in cultural bribes such as paying all expenses for Ethiopian journalists to cover the Beijing Olympics. So, now we have two of the three traditional (20th century) superpowers bolstering their popularity and influence in very large geopolitical spheres. This, then, begs the question of what is the third traditional superpower up to...that is "us". We have frittered away our moral superiority platform on this ill-conceived and atrocious adventure in the Middle East; our Republican no-tax-but-spend-on-private contractors government has cut budgets for all our positive cultural expenditures overseas (Voice of America, USAID, etc), and created a climate of Orwellian double-speak and lies that would horrify Orwell. And most chilling of all, is the depth of deception that this government has sunk to and is believed, hook-line-and-sinker by the unthinking right-wing cheerleaders. I am appalled. This Republican administration has become as bad as the worst of the Soviet Union and the new Russia....is that what Bush meant when he said he could see into the soul of Putin and declared him a blood brother?..horror of horrors.
On an interesting note, listen to Slavoj Zizek on today's Weekday on KUOW...it will get you thinking.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Summary

The Undertoad. In John Irving's book, The World According to Garp, the Undertoad is a mood setter, a theme, a lurking, brooding, fearful presence. Garp and his children live on the coast and as they learn to swim, he cautions them about the tides and the under tow. Only, they hear this as 'undertoad'. And once this fear is named, Garp begins to realise that the Undertoad can appear when one is not being vigilant and careful. And, sure enough, the Undertoad pounces at the most unlikely of times. It seems, that many of us are anticipating the arrival of the Undertoad on 4 November 2008, Election Day in the USA.
Barbara's garden, on the tour today, was a bright spot and maybe her cat, Gus (above), will keep guard against the Undertoad.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hmm....The Ottomans

I have long been interested in the Ottomans, not only for themselves, but for the influence the Ottoman Empire has had on the literature of the Balkans. Rebecca West, in her incredible book 'Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia', describes regions and peoples so filled with melancholy, what Orhan Pamuk, in his memoir 'Istanbul' calls "huzun". This Balkan melancholy pervades these novels like the fogs of Istanbul: read Ismail Kadare, Vladimir Bartol, Ivo Andric, or Milorad Pavic, to name a few.
And then, just this week, the Ottomans arrive at my door from two very distinct sources: a new exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum called Oasis: Western Dreams of the Ottoman Empire and the new issue of the London Review of Books:
Kemalism by Perry Anderson.

And speaking of Who Knew?........

At the Republican Convention, an area was set aside/cordoned off for demonstrators and protesters...a location that did not allow for the intersection of convention attendees and demonstrators. This sounds very much like what the Chinese government did at the Olympics...how creepy is that!

Who knew?.............The Paralympics

In today's edition of the Mail and Guardian, the front page stories include coverage of the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing of the Paralympics and the Miss Confidence competition in South Africa...a beauty pageant for women with disabilities. The winner of the latter will serve as an ambassador for the disabled community for a year. Unfortunately, they held the competition in a venue that was not handicapped-friendly! The only Beijing coverage in the New York Times centered on paralympians suing the US Olympic Committee for more support.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tears of Joy for Seattleites...

The author and professor, Charles Johnson, has written such a beautiful piece in the September 2008 issue of The Smithsonian, on living in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest...it is a good reminder to those who constantly complain about 1) the weather 2) the Seattle process 3) the arts 4) the fashions, 5) the distance, that living in an alternative center of the universe is a wonderful thing.

Aaah, the Republican Convention

Andy Reynolds shared with me a clip from The Daily Show regarding Sarah Palin and the Gender Card. Sarah Palin seems to be channeling Phyllis Shlafly: I guess if you're a Republican woman, you can have your cake and eat it too. Be sure to check out other convention coverage by Jon Stewart and the Daily Show folks, it helps put things in perspective.
Here is a link to the email Anne Kilkenny of Wasilla, AK wrote to friends about the Sarah Palin she knows only too well.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The New York Times, Art Review, on 2 September was about a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called 'Provocative Visions: Race and Identity'. The mask sculpture on the left was created out of shoes. "Seven contemporary African-American artists brings to light an intriguing dichotomy between the visual and the verbal" (Ken Jonson). One of the artists is Kara Walker, whose silhouettes have been seen at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington as well as the Seattle Art Museum.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Visible Man

Check out John Ridley's Visible Man column on NPR...it will help you understand "Palinguage" and get through the GOP convention without totally gagging.

Books of Interest

Tobias Wolfe has a new collection of stories out, reverentially reviewed in the FT's Weekend section the last weekend in August. Also reviewed in the same issue is a book by Bernadine Evaristo, a new author to me, called Blonde Roots, about an imagined scenario where Africans imported European slaves. Sounds worth reading.

From textiles to cars to robots...in the culture of Cute

This morning on the BBC's Business Daily,one of the stories was about the history of Toyota...its transformation from a textile company into an automobile manufacturer. A major component of factory work is its robotic division, both for the manufacture of automobiles and more importantly into other uses. The company's other divisions include Housing, Financial Activities, Marine, Biotech & Afforestation, and New Business Enterprises. A major focus of the robotic group has been to develop robot assistants for the elderly. Not only is Japan's workforce aging, but this is exacerbated by a significant portion of its youth entering into terminal adolescence through the Culture of Cute. This led me to think about other island nations and/or cultures that are characterised as being 'reserved', e.g. Great Britain. Kazuo Ishiguro explored this in The Remains of the Day. But I began thinking about whether the Carnaby Street culture of the 1960's was Britain's version of "cute" and whether this then portends hope or despair for Japan....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

For You Gardeners Out There...

You may not be aware of an unlikely source of delightful garden commentary...the Financial Times of London. Robin Lane Fox writes a weekly column, currently in the FT Weekend House and Home section. I began reading him in 1980 on the advice of Bob Wedgwood and have been a fan since. In his other life he is an historian. His joy in uncovering new gardens to share with us, unusual designs, simple delights in everyday spaces and all written in such vivid, clear essays.
The New York Times correspondent in Paris is Alan Riding and his article on secret gardens in Paris should go on everyone's list of things-to-do on their next trip to Paris.

Monday, September 1, 2008

At Least Someone Defended Doris Lessing!

"New York Times Book Review
August 31, 2008
Defending Doris Lessing

To the Editor:
Your review of “Alfred and Emily” (Aug. 10) says that some people think of Doris Lessing as a “one-book wonder” or a “literary version of a crazy bag lady.” What about the Children of Violence series, the adventures of Martha Quest, which chronicled the awakening of one of our most powerful feminist and anticolonialist writers? Most of these five novels preceded “The Golden Notebook,” which seemed to me their logical outcome and crowning achievement. They were so vivid and moving that 40 or 50 years after reading them whole scenes still burn in my memory. And what about “The Summer Before the Dark” and “The Memoirs of a Survivor” and “Briefing for a Descent Into Hell”?
I realize that there is a generation gap here and that much of Lessing's later work does not stand up to her earlier books, but still it is infuriating to see the Book Review condescend to a great artist.
Naomi Barko
Stamford, Conn."

I would like to add to the letter above: even work that was, perhaps, not as strong, showed great insight into and commentary about our society. I do not believe that generational differences played any role. I have found something to enjoy and learn from in all her works...and I have read them all. She was one of the first writers to tell us about the suffering and dangers faced by Afghan women in her book The Wind Blows Away Their Words.

The Russians.....again

So, the Russians continue in their bullying ways, making threats, being intimidating, killing off their home-grown critics. Medvedev's announcement that Russia is entitled to control a sphere of influence of it's own making, whether those in the sphere like it or not, and that the USA and the world will be sorry if they continue to criticize Russia, is preposterous and predictable. The Balts and Central Europeans are well versed in Russian bellicosity and I only hope the rest of the West stands firmly behind them as they remind us of the horrors of Russia and the Soviet Union. As John said in a letter to the New York Times, "you can take the man out of the KGB, but you cannot take the KGB out of the man"