Friday, June 26, 2009

Migration, Displacement, & Climate Change

As the House debates the climate change bill today and the whiners from the rabid-right make fatuous quips about 'cap & tax' and how this bill will result in job losses and the government controlling our lives, let's put this in perspective: real life changes, disruptions, devastation, and human tragedies. An article in the Weekend FT of 20/21 June, the feature article is titled 'The Human Tsunami' by Sam Knight. The sub headline reads:"By 2050, hundreds of millions of people could be forced from their lands by climate change. Where will they go, how will the host communities cope and can we learn from other migrations, past and present?" With immigrants in various potential host countries already under fire, with nationalism on the rise in many parts of the world, this issue has huge implications for world peace, budgets, and immigration policies. The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) has been doing excellent work in this area and holds very good workshops for those who live in the D.C area. The MPI website is an invaluable information resource and worth visiting, and supporting, on a regular bases.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Difficult reading and thinking

Homecoming Homecoming by Bernhard Schlink

Like his earlier book, The Reader, the story takes place through several time periods with several subtexts...this book being more complex in that there is also a thorough review of The Odyssey and Odysseus' homecoming. The story is a vehicle for looking at good and evil, choice-making, deconstruction and the law & literature. It is not enjoyable reading because the material is difficult, thought-provoking, and uncomfortable to read/contemplate, bu the story is compelling and tension inducing enough to be a page turner.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More info on reactionary forces in Lithuania

Another article in the Baltic Review about the history of and discrimination against the Roma (did you know that one who studies the Roma is a romologist! and that there are such things as ethnonyms! who knew?) in the Baltic region. Also, an article in IPS on anti-gay legislation in Lithuania (thanks Andrew for these).

Three more photographs from Andrew Miksys' collection called BAXT.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We Should Be Scared, Very, Very Scared

The rumblings from the right are getting bombastic. Since I don't watch rabid-right TV or listen to rabid-right radio, I feel as though I have lulled into a false sense of security since Obama's election. Somehow, reading about it in Europe, as awful as that is, it seemed, well, over there. But the 'over there' is 'over here' and together they make for one living nightmare for many people. So, here is what we have to be very afraid of: Italian nationalists have been rooting out Roma and denying them benefits, education access, jobs. Italian nationalists and French nationalists have been scare-mongering around African immigrants and economic refugees. British nationalists (this is their actual website) won seats in EU elections and want to keep "Britain for the British and those who accept our values". Hungarian nationalists support British nationalists in wanting to keep closed borders and gave them campaign support in the EU elections. Northern Irish young thugs, with nothing better to do now that there is 'peace' in Northern Ireland, attacked Roma in their homes and threatened their lives. Intolerance seems to be rising all over Europe: to quote photographer Andrew Miksys (currently in Lithuania and whose photograph is posted here, with permission) "well, things are just getting worse and worse here too. don't know what it is. seems like lithuanians went from being very open after independence to increasing intolerance. i've kinda lost my patience. people here seem to have no empathy for anyone outside there immediate circle or clan. stupid and quite boring culturally too. been having a lot of conversations about this recently. my friend, dovid katz, at the vilnius yiddish institute wrote this recent editorial for the irish times. And now we come home to Frank Rich's op-ed piece in Sunday's NYT about the "Obama haters".
This photograph, by Andrew Miksys, is titled Reda and Alexander, Lithuania, 2004. It is part of a series on Lithuanian Roma.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Duwamish Tribe Just Keeps Getting Screwed

The Duwamish Tribe, the First People of Seattle, have been screwed out of their inheritance as well as subsequent atonements by the Federal Government, through broken treaties, broken promises, and being stabbed in back by other tribes who feel threatened/jealous of their leadership role. Chief Seattle, after whom Seattle is proudly named, had negotiated in faith for the future of his people. At the end of the Clinton Administration, the Duwamish were finally granted Federal recognition, which would allow them to be eligible for benefits from Indian Health Service and other resources allocated to recognised tribes. One of the first acts of the Bush Administration was revoke this decision. The Duwamish legal fund is still in need of help to fight for Federal recognition. If you can help, go to their website, do what you can.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Ottomans, Eva Zeisel, Chihuly, oh my!

This last weekend's Weekend FT featured three of my favourite topics...each with a new twist. Jancis Robinson, the FT's wine guru, featured the wines and grapes of Turkey. The old Ottoman winemaking traditions suffered (disappeared?) when the Greeks and Armenians fled in the 1920's. Read the article for new information, insights, and maybe travel ideas. Complementing this, is an article by Nicholas Lander on the dining delights of Istanbul.....definitely worth adding to a travel itinerary! Next, in the FT House and Home section, is a feature on antique and modern textiles. Eva Zeisel, of porcelain fame, has a rug featured that is intriguing..this artist is 102 and still creating! And finally, in the section on Collecting, is an article about the emergence of glass as an art, "worthy" of auctions, and not just a craft. Given the prices that Dale Chihuly, chandelier below
and William Morris, reliquary vessel below, fetch in the US, it was shocking the provincial attitude taken by the British collectors...wish I had been there to snap up some real bargains!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Reading

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, getting sucked right in from the beginning. Gaiman has successfully created a great alternative, parallel world. While plot driven, it is also character driven. This book is the first selection of Open Salon. Those wishing to read the book and join the discussion, should read chapters 1-4 and be ready to converse on 10 June.

Readers should consider also reading Summerland by Michael Chabon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Same old, same old or is this different enough?

The White Tiger The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was interesting, but it is not clear to me why it was a Booker winner. The device of the white tiger was insightful and the experience of the protagonist possibly believable, probably more allegorical.